When I complained to the store (Sears) they said that all washing machines are made that way now [90's]
That's a really dumb justification for suckage. "Sure, we suck, but so do our competitors now." I see now it's not just limited to telecoms and presidential candidates.
I suppose the appliance makers could argue that power-saving regulations limit their ability to make the "big iron" washers you talk about. Some of the older stuff from say the 50's were tough, stable, lasting, and easy to repair, but were also power-hogs.
By the way, our semi-old washer only has that problem if you wash big items like winter blankets or jackets. One has to be home to monitor it during such, else it dances around the garage. Being in a warmer region, it's usually not a problem.