I agree about Sears -- they seem to think they can cruise on their name, without really taking care of the customer at all. You'd think they would have learned from Montogmery Ward's mistakes.Consumer Reports
is a great idea! And it should provide information on who actually manufactures what brand names, too... we were looking at washers recently, too, and discovered that many of the names are just labels with no proprietary manufacturing facility behind them at all. A lot like the problem with pet food, actually!
By the way -- my mom was all set to spend $600 on a new washing machine, but I diagnosed the problem: a bad solenoid in the water inlet valve. I successfully installed a new valve in my own machine years ago, so I begged her to let me fix hers, but she wouldn't trust me. She called a repairman, he confirmed my diagnosis, and put in the $25 valve... for $175.
Coulda saved you $150, Mom! Shoulda trusted me!