Monday, April 2, 2012

Thermador product failure

We purchased a Thermador Professional, PRO-GRAND, gas range, (purchase docs below),  in September of 2007.  It was first serviced in July 2008, 10 months after initial purchase (receipt below) because the oven intermittently failed to ignite. While the service technician pronounced the range "operating normally" after the July '08 call, from then on the oven operated in what might best be described as a quirky manner, sometime requiring restart, sometime shutting down, sometime functioning okay. As empty nesters for many years there are only two of us, we tend both to eat out and travel frequently and consequently use the oven part of the range infrequently, less than once per month.  Having a Miele steam oven, microwave and warming drawer in our kitchen, we tended to overlook the irregular performance characteristics of the Thermador oven especially once the one-year warranty expired.   Without any real warning the oven ceased functioning altogether in mid-December 2010, three years and two months after purchase, two years and four months after the July '08 service call.  At that point in time the oven had been used no more than a couple of dozen times since purchase. Service technicians diagnosed the problem as a faulty "motherboard", and suggested a replacement motherboard at approximately $1,700 installed.  We then called Thermador at their Contact 800 number in March '11 and reviewed the facts of our purchase with a representative who informed us the case would be further reviewed by a committee and that we would be advised of their findings shortly.  Several days later we were advised in a brief voice message that the review committee disallowed our claim and the case was closed.

To review the facts:  We owned a $7,000 Thermador range that malfunctioned after 10 months requiring a major service repair.  The oven performed in a quirky manner until it failed completely three years and two months after initial purchase, and two years and five months after its initial major service repair.  Our claim to Thermador was disallowed after a "review" by a company committee.

A letter below letter to Reid's Appliances, from whom we purchased the faulty Thermador range provides additional context for this issue. Here is a link to Consumer Affairs website which lists nearly two hundred complaints about Thermador products, many about the same oven series as ours.  Clearly product failure is common to our oven series and Thermador is consciously ignoring it, possibly dealing with customers in a cynical manner.  Of particular interest among these many complaints is this one from a software engineer:
As a software engineer, I can tell that all these problems are from poorly written software. The behavior is characteristic of inexperienced developers and poor error handling. I contacted the Western US distributor director and suggested that he contact me if he wanted some objective feedback on the oven problems.
I had a conference call with Thermador engineers and they truly had no idea how an oven controller is supposed to work. They claimed that the oven knew better what temperature to use than the user and as such it never got hot enough. Apparently, it second-guesses the cook and decides on some other temperature based on a combination of sensor readings.
It is shameful for a large, successful consumer products company to not stand behind its products.

Letter to Thermador Review Committee
Letter to retailer

Service invoice

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