The recall process
When I worked for Hamilton Sundstrand between 2000 and 2009, I was very involved in their recall process for all of their aftermarket airline parts. I understand that you have to have significant costs and risks associated with leaving products in the market to prompt a recall, as I wrote about in the 12 steps to performing a product recall. When companies fail to promptly recall their products, they face scorn from their consumers as Toyota did earlier this year.
The reason I am writing this is that it burns me that there is no recall on the Kenmore Smooth Top Ultra Bake Self Cleaning Super Capacity oven yet.
Here’s my story and some contact numbers if you have experienced the same issues. If you haven’t had problems yet, be forewarned. There are a lot of people who have.
Bake to Broil without any human intervention
Last week my mom was staying at my house taking care of me after major surgery. I was supposed to be relaxing and so I was lying on the couch while she was in my kitchen making blueberry muffins. She was following a recipe we had found on the internet called Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins and the first batch of muffins came out awesome.
She put the second batch of muffins in the oven and was doing some dishes when I first noticed the smoke billowing out of the stove. Not long after that the fire alarms in the house went off. We made a joke that that only happens when I’m cooking but when she opened the oven door, I could see from where I was that the broiler element, and not the baking element, was bright red. She ran around opening windows and doors.
I got off the couch to check to see how that had happened. I thought maybe she had accidently hit something not being familiar with my stove, but to my surprise the electronic control on the stove top still said that the oven was set to bake although clearly the oven was broiling and not baking. I made a joke that the oven was possessed and we shut it off.
She tried to salvage the muffins that had only been in the oven five minutes and was surprised to find that they were cooked all the way through – the oven had been very hot!
About 10 minutes later, I went by the oven and realized that it wasn’t getting any cooler, and in fact, it still felt pretty darn hot.
Oven won’t shut off even though control says power is off
We opened the oven door and to our chagrin, we saw that the broiler element was still raging bright red even though we had shut the stove off. Rather than taking a chance of a house fire, I instructed mom to go to the basement and flip the breaker switch so that we could be assured the power was off.
When my daughter got home about an hour later she walked by the stove and insisted that the wall was so hot that it was a fire hazard and so she pulled the stove away from the wall. The other side of the wall was also warm and we realized had we not been home, we might have had an even bigger problem. I’ve left the house on many occasions to run to the store with the oven still going but not anymore. I no longer felt safe with the stove because off didn’t necessarily mean off.
Since I wasn’t feeling that well, I decided to let my husband deal with the issue when he got home from work. My mom and I decided she would be creative and use an electric fry pan and the microwave to cook dinner instead of us using the stove again.
When my husband got home, he tried to trouble-shoot the problem. He plugged the oven in and sure enough, after flipping the circuit breaker back on and using the oven control to turn the oven on again, he too realized it wouldn’t shut off and that the broiler was running at the same time as the bake element. He was forced to trip the circuit breaker again in order for the oven to power off.
Looking on the internet, we found several cases where people had had similar problems with Kenmore and Frigidaire ovens, and in fact, NBC news had highlighted a consumer report that said 200,000 stoves had been recalled. This was clearly a manufacturer’s defect – a fire hazard – and not anything to do with our misuse of the product. I asked my husband to “handle it”.
As he pursued the recall, we learned that our stove model wasn’t on the list. The recall that was being performed was dealing with the top of the stoves not turning off or turning on all by themselves in the middle of the night – not the ovens. Some people had had house fires and one lady was accused of leaving the stove on when she went to bed, even after she had insisted she hadn’t done that. Another lady awoke in the middle of the night to find that the left burner on the top of her stove was blazing all on its own.
We found several instances of frustrated people reporting the same issues with the ovens on the internet that we had had and yet the manufacturer was only honoring problems with the stove tops and not the ovens.
So I called Sears customer service hotline at 800-449-9810 and reported the problem and told them I thought they should add the oven defect to their recall since the control was the same one that was defective for the stove part. The lady was nice enough but said she couldn’t do anything to help me.
Consumer Product Safety Board
I then called the Consumer Products Safety board at 800-638-2772 and reported the issue stating that there should be a recall on this product as it is a fire hazard and if the same controller that is responsible for the top of the stove is also responsible for the oven, then our model should be included.
The lady that took my call there recommended that I do not use the oven until it is fixed. She thanked me for reporting the problem and stated that if the manufacturer did decide to issue a recall, we could be compensated for the money we spent on the repair after the fact.
I told her the stove was unplugged and pulled away from the wall as I did not feel comfortable using it anymore. It was clearly a fire-hazard and I thanked her for her assistance.
Through additional internet research to find replacement parts we discovered that there were a bunch of people who had reported the problems, gotten new electronic oven controls and the replacements were also defective. That being the case, we have decided that since Sears and Kenmore don’t seem to be responding to the complaints in a manner that is responsible we decided we will look for a new stove with a different manufacturer.
Kenmore 665.95822003 stove is defective
Just so you know, the Kenmore stove that is not on the recall list but that should be, is the Ultra Bake Self Cleaning Super capacity, Model #665.95822003 Serial #: RM 3713518.
Maytag Dishwasher recall handled with finesse, Kenmore should learn something from them
As an aside, our Maytag dishwasher recently underwent a recall and I’m pleased to say I was very happy with the service we received. Not only did Maytag issue the recall right away, they sent a service tech out in a few days to fix the problem. So now we are now looking at replacing our Kenmore stove with a Maytag because at least Maytag stands by their products if they discover a defect.