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Kitchenaid Oven Buyer Beware

I am the owner of two Kitchenaid True Convect ovens, and when they are working, you cannot ask for a better baking outcome. One oven is an oven/microwave built-in and the other is a double oven. I loved the first one so much that when I planned my commercial kitchen, I opted for a residential double oven instead of a commercial oven. I was

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familiar with the quality of baking and wanted my bakery to have the same results as the recipes developed in my home kitchen before I opened the shop.

To begin, I bought the first oven when we remodeled my kitchen three years ago. It worked perfectly for a few months. Then I noticed that the calibration seemed off. Cakes weren’t getting done in the middle which causes sinking. This was also an issue with yeast breads like sticky buns. The repairman came out and replaced the motherboard. It worked perfectly again. For two years. I want to note that the first oven was purchased from an appliance dealer, Spicher’s Appliances in Hagerstown, MD. The repairman was informative and helpful, as Spicher’s reps have always been in the past.

In February of this year, I purchased my second Kitchenaid oven to accompany other ovens already in use in the bakery. It was installed several months later. I used it for about two weeks and the motherboard went out on this one. The repairman from Sears came out. We used Sears this time because they offer incentives with their credit card purchases. He proceeded to tell me that the oven was working properly and that a swing in temperature of 25 degrees above and below the desired temperature was standard. He was rude and told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about.

Being a professional scratch baker, I am well aware of the problems of ovens being out of calibration. Because this can happen at any time, I always bake with an independent thermometer in the ovens. When the motherboards are working correctly, the dial version thermometer barely moves, even though the oven is constantly turning on and off to maintain the desired temperature. When the motherboards go out, these dials will register a swing of up to 75 degrees, and this is on slow response. Who knows how much temperature swing is really taking place? Well, we can’t know, and here is why.

I have had two digital thermometers used for cooking, basting, and roasting. I thought that if it went bad, the screen would just go blank. I had some trouble with some ice cream base I was cooking and decided to check the calibration of my digital thermometer. It was off by twelve degrees. This is critical in pastry creams, egg safety, and sugar work, all of which require specific temperatures for success. I checked both of my digital thermometers and the other was off by seven degrees. A thermometer can be checked by placing it in boiling water. The temperature should read 212 degrees. If a tube thermometer with the red liquid center is off, it is usually due to the tube not being in the correct position on the metal casing. But if it is off, it will always be off the exact same amount, so it can be used correctly. In my experiments with the digital thermometers, each test showed a different result, making it impossible to even guess at an accurate reading.

I finally convinced the Sears repairman to order my part. He did call my husband and tell him that essentially, I was nuts. I think I almost had him in tears, so I guess I deserved it. But it was sad that I knew more than he did about how an oven was supposed to operate.

Two days later the part came in and another Sears repairman came to replace it. He really knew about appliances and we had a good talk about the oven. He informed me that Sears hardly ever calibrated their digital thermometers used in the repair work. The one he was using had not been calibrated in more than two years. So every day, Sears sends out repairmen to deal with customers who have oven issues and they don’t even care that they may not be accurately correcting the problem. But that is another story and we all know what happened to Sears.

The second repairman replaced the motherboard. We used his digital thermometer and three independent dial thermometers to test the new board. His thermometer was off. The three independents registered a swing of about 12 to 15 degrees each way, with the target temperature remaining in the middle of the variance. I baked cakes, buns, cookies… all with the perfect results that I loved. The repairman was kind enough to explain how the board actually works. From what I can remember, there is a delicate relay that turns the oven on and off to keep it close to the desired temperature. Sometimes you just get a bad one that may have been jostled in manufacturing and delivery, but once the new one is in place, it should be good for life. With the first oven, this had been my experience. And after the second oven had a new board, this seemed to be the case. But now, both have broken again. I don’t know exactly when the first oven went out, as I rarely bake in it. Roasting a chicken is not near as precise a science as baking and variations from a recipe will still produce the desired results.

My mom had a stroke and I slowed my business during her recovery. When I started baking again about three weeks ago, I noticed sinking middles in my cakes… an indicator that the motherboard was broken again. And sure enough, I had checked the temperature in the oven as I preheated and when I put the cakes in the oven, but I had not been watching the temperature during baking. As I watched the temperature that should have been 340 degrees, I saw it go as high as 375 degrees and then hover fatally, at least for the cake, at 300 degrees before it started to climb again. I decided to try the oven on the conventional baking mode, but this one was all over the place too. I was in the process of developing my sticky bun recipe, so it wasn’t for sale. I decided to use my personal oven for the experiments. And guess what? This one was out of calibration again. Not quite a bad of a swing in temperature, but enough to require constant monitoring, standing by the stove and manually adjusting the temperature to turn the element on and off.

Today I decided to get it fixed. I called Sears and asked for an emergency repair and they refused. The last time they did come out right away. So I decided to call Kitchenaid. They proceeded to tell me that because I used it commercially for those few weeks, that my warranty was voided. Sears certainly didn’t tell me that when I bought it, knowing full well what I was using it for. They even tried to sell me the extended warranty.

Basically, I told Kitchenaid that I was more concerned about the fact that I had over $5000.00 in ovens and that four motherboards had malfunctioned, three of them in a matter of weeks. The repair is only about $400.00, so at this point, I was more concerned about the problem than the cost. How many of these $400.00 boards will I be replacing in the future? She said that she could not help me . Too bad for me.

I then called Whirlpool, and again, they were not concerned about the number of times that the motherboard had malfunctioned. They were sorry I had the problem, but were not interested in finding out the core of the problem and were not interested in helping me in any way. They also refused to give me any technical support cotacts so that I could express my concern. In essence, they are not only not standing by their product, they don’t even care that the problem exists, nor do they want to have any feedback to possibly correct the problem in the future.

By the way, I contacted Kitchenaid directly by email from their site when the problem began and did not receive even a standard reply that they got the email. They never responded. I emailed them today again. We will see if they respond.

I have praised this oven many times on a worldwide cake forum with over one million viewers and members. I must recant my earlier praises to an opinion of not only a faulty product, but in this age of consumer feedback reaching multitudes, the poorest customer service I have encountered in recent years. Please understand, I was looking for a resolution. I was willing to pay for the repair, but with no end game or plan, the repair may have been worthless. Not even being allowed to talk to a tech was unbelievable.

For as many times as I have sung the praises of Kitchenaid ovens, I will take every opportunity to warn the public of the inferior part that runs the entire temperature system and the total lack of concern for a resolution of the problem. Yes, Kitchenaid will back the part for the warranty period, but it will still keep going bad, long after the warranty expires. And as for the extended warranty, the part is only about $250.00 and it is the most expensive component. As with most extended warranties, the price of the warranty far exceeds the cost of the repair if it does go bad.

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