Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Memo to GE

To: Jeff Immelt, CEO GE
cc: Keith McLoughlin, CEO Electrolux 

This post was going to begin with the sentence:
GE, your appliances suck,
but thought that would be too abrupt, forthright, and unprofessional.

Instead I will objectively, straightforwardly, and without emotion overcoming my better judgment, relate the saga of our microwave/convection oven.

The short version:
It died. For the third time in four years.

The longer story:
We bought a GE microwave/convection oven in May 2010. The appliance died two years later. We replaced it with another GE. A mistake, we realized even then, but the price was right and, when the appliance worked, it worked well.

That oven died a year later (immediately after the warranty expired). Because it broke down early in our ownership cycle, GE covered the cost of parts. We paid for labor.

And now, one year and two weeks after purchase (and two weeks after the warranty on the new parts elapsed), the machine died again.

GE has a long, distinguished track record of manufacturing appliances. The esteemed corporation traces its origins back to Thomas Alva Edison, who established the Edison General Electric Company in 1890. The first appliance manufactured by the company was an electric fan in the 1890s. Cooking appliances appeared soon after the turn of the 20th century. The 1920s brought huge strides, including the refrigerator and dishwasher, leading the way to today’s modern kitchens.

Somewhere along the line I believe greed overtook a desire for top-notch performance.

Or maybe the giant conglomerate neglected a small division. After all, the appliance division contributes just under 6% of GE’s total revenue.

Or perhaps the desire to unload the division brought about cost-cutting measures in an effort to make it appear as profit-generating as possible. Those belt-tightening measures eventually negatively impacted appliance performance.

Whatever the reason, Mr. Immelt, your microwave-convection ovens underperform.

Or, more accurately, our two microwaves underperformed and failed. Disappointment does not adequately convey our feelings.

If I was emotional, I would use a lot more colorful language.

And the machines are not cheap. More important in the long run, GE appliances are costly to repair.

Our repairmen do not recommend GE because when appliances break down replacement parts must be purchased through GE at a high price. And then there is the cost of labor…

Our poor-performing microwave/convection ovens generated a dismal track record and cost the consumer, a.k.a. the appliance owner, a.k.a. hub and I - $$$.

I realize I am only one of millions of consumers. I hope the vast majority have better luck with their GE purchases. Maybe we were the unlucky recipients of lemons. Hopefully there are not too many out there.

Our appliance repairman was contacted – we are on friendly terms now, since he has become a regular at our house. Then we contacted GE customer service directly.

Their computer was down (really).

Goodbye, farewell, sayonara GE.

No more GE appliances for us.


I cc’d the CEO of Electrolux because the scuttlebutt is that the company is interested in purchasing GE’s appliance division.

A note to Electrolux:
Beware. As the owner of iconic brands Frigidaire, Westinghouse, and Eureka, if you can improve on the performance of certain GE underperforming appliances, go for it. Otherwise…

And now it is time to shop for another microwave/convection oven. We briefly considered replacing the combo with a cheaper microwave-only unit, but the convection oven is used often at our house. It is big enough to cook complete meals for the two of us, and is more energy efficient than firing up the oven for a small casserole.

I am not happy about the broken appliance, am not pleased about taking the time, effort and energy to research and shop for a new one, and am especially unhappy that we have to pay for a new unit again.

We can only hope the new one lasts a long, long time.

And if anyone can recommend a brand other than GE, I look forward to hearing from you. 


  1. There aren't may appliances that last years and years, but 2 years is ridiculous. Good luck finding a new manufacturer.

  2. Uh-oh. I don't have a recommendation because I have a GE convection/microwave. Nothing is built to last these days as far as I can tell. Respected brand names mean nothing these days I am afraid. Or maybe I am cynical and bitter from my own appliance wars.

  3. I have never had a combination microwave/convection oven, but I just bought a new microwave only. It was inexpensive and replaces the Sharp that lasted 15 years before seeming to heat stuff less well but still worked. We bought an Emerson because that's all they had at the store. Please let me know what brand you finally end up buying.

  4. Oh no. I just bought a GE microwave and a GE convection oven earlier this year. Now I'm worried. They weren't cheap by any means. I'll be interested to see how you resolve this problem.

  5. You go girl! These corporations think they can trade on their old reputation as 'reputable' manufacturers. They underpay workers in China and elsewhere, and get what they pay for. I'm sticking to items sold by Japanese firms. Mostly, they work pretty well. And many of them are made in the USA.

  6. I wish I had a recommendation for you. Instead I have another story. Well, not much of a story. We have a GE electric cooktop. Less than two years old. And we just noticed a crack in the glass top -- form the heat? -- we don't know, but we certainly haven't mistreated the thing. (Our old cooktop came with the house when we bought it, and we only replaced it after five years because we getting all new appliances). We're gonna call GE; but don't expect much.

  7. Yep, I have one of their equally bad stoves. The control panel melted from the heat of the stovetop. Gee, did they not test for that before going into production?