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.