It's definitely true. I've had to replace a number of household white-goods items recently - dishwasher, oven and washing machine - which all failed due to bad design. As someone who once did design consumer goods for a living, it was easy to see where the failures had been either engineered in, or negligently ignored.
The washing machine failed due to intermittent contact between the spinning drum and the plastic casing that enclosed it (only a perfectly balanced load would avoid this contact, a rarity in practice). Eventually this wore through, allowing water to be ejected under pressure straight onto the back of the bare PCB that controlled the machine.
The dishwasher failed because the relay that controlled the main heater was underrated for the current draw of the element, leading to heavy contact wear and eventual failure. The PCB tracks connecting the same relay were also undersized and showed signs of delamination from the substrate due to heat. Which failed first was a matter of luck, but one of them definitely would, but after a period of working (3 years in my case).
The oven was the worst. The casing was so badly engineered that hot air from the back of the oven was fan-forced through a gap directly onto the back of the electronics controlling the timer functions, display, etc. This was gradually cooked to the point where the plastic surround that supported the PCB became depolymerised and so it just fell apart one day when the front panel buttons were pressed. The entire PCB was carbonised but somehow still did function, but as the mountings were now disintegrated (not even glueable), it was unrepairable.
It really annoys me that these things are made this way. It's not even cost-cutting, because the faults were not due to reducing costs of materials or construction, it was designed that way. In other words designed to fail. And the problem is people are now brainwashed into believing that five years lifespan for goods like this is OK, even 'doing well'. It's NOT! These things should last 20 years or more. I would definitely buy a brand that could be shown that it was engineered right, and that brand would surely clean up by having a much stronger reputation.