Here’s what a lemon looks like: It’s my KitchenAid dual oven gas range, purchased in 2012 for a princely sum.
It was an appealing purchase at the time. Two ovens are cool and handy. Gas stoves are easier to control, and evoke my grandmother’s kitchen.
Grandma’s gas range worked great. Mine doesn’t.
The problem is technology, a blessing and a curse in the 21st century. When it works great, yay. When it fails, it is complicated and costly to fix.
My grandmother’s stove didn’t have a motherboard. Mine does. Two years ago, it went completely haywire. Pushing buttons to turn on the oven would instead change the time on the clock. Adjusting the temperature upward would sometimes shut the whole thing down.
Because it was under warranty, KitchenAid replaced the motherboard.
Last week, it failed again. This time, the oven won’t heat beyond 170 degrees.
The oven heats, but not enough. The technology is screwing it up, according to the appliance guy who visited this week. He offered to install a new motherboard for $450.
KitchenAid is offering to install a new one for $300, with a one year warranty.
At this rate, I’ll be installing new $300 motherboards every two years into a range that is obviously a lemon. Nice business model, KitchenAid.
Why does a stove / range need a motherboard? Instead of twisting a knob to activate the oven or set the temperature (grandma’s stove), mine has digital readouts and buttons (that aren’t really buttons) that are embedded next to the readouts. Its looks very sleek, very 21st century.
When it works, it works great — but not as great as grandma’s did.
In my business, technology has changed a lot in the last twenty years. We used to edit video on tape machines. Now we do it in computers, and videotape only exists in archives. When video machines failed, a guy with a toot belt would open them up and fix them. When our computers fail, a guy (or two or three) will poke around, scratch their heads and try to decode the problem. They’ve wiped my computer more times than I can count. Each time, I lose all the stuff I’ve stored and all the memory that helps me work faster. (And I can’t count how many failed external hard drives I’ve got in my desk, hoping they’ll reanimate one day.)
I get why TV news technology has advanced. When it works, it’s lighter and faster and more mobile.
But a kitchen appliance doesn’t need to be mobile or faster or lighter. The range needs to get hot when I want it to, without the interference of a very flawed KitchenAid computer motherboard that seems completely superfluous to cooking.
I’ve got a KitchenAid guy coming next week to to replace the motherboard — again — for $300. Maybe I’m behind the times. But it seems a bit outrageous.