The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Warning: Don't buy a Jenn-Air range

Eidetix's picture
Eidetix

Warning: Don't buy a Jenn-Air range

I've been baking bread for about six weeks and loving every minute of it. However, I am now on forced hiatus since the shutdown of my Jenn-Air range.

It is a four-burner gas on gas unit, model number JGS8750ADW. I bought it 8 or 9 years ago for $1,600, then by far the lowest price available for this unit on the local market.

This week it quit on me for the third and final time. Its electronics are prone to failure; I have replaced two membrane switches at a cost of $250 per repair. The bad part does not affect the stove, but it renders the oven inoperable. I will not be putting another $250 into my Jenn-Air. I look forward to dragging this piece of garbage to the curb.

Jenn-Air is manufactured by Maytag. I don't know the history of the brand, but I am guessing that it was once an independent operation that built a reputation for quality before acquisition by an appliance giant. That giant presumably profits from a worthy reputation while compromising quality to cut costs, a sad but common tale in the story of modern manufacturing.

So please, save yourself money and aggravation by steering clear of Jenn-Air.

I ask for Floyd's indulgence in allowing me to bump this thread periodically so my warning gets in front of as many TFL readers as possible. In a related thread, I will ask for your suggestions regarding a range I should look to buy to replace this one.

Bob Ottaviano

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Bob, sorry to hear about your unhappy experience.  We have a Jenn-Air with dual electric ovens and a gas cook-top which has served us very well.  Only maintenance so far has been to replace a burned out heating element in the lower oven.  The membrane switches (so far) are behaving as intended.  Given my experience, I'd highly recommend Jenn-Air to friends.

Paul

foodslut's picture
foodslut

I've been using a Jenn-Air ever since I started baking bread, and the only problem I've had in 3 years was needing to replace the heating element in the oven.  Considering I crank it up to 500+ more than once a week, I'm OK with a little more-than-usual wear on that part.

Also, we paid about $5K Canadian about 4 years ago, so I'm impressed with the price you got your oven for.

Sorry it sucked for you.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

but, like Foodslut, I subject my (electric, with fan-assisted convection) JennAir range to heaviest duty workouts, using it for my home based bakery.

It is 4 years old, and regularly heated up to 550 F. The only thing that sometimes happens is an auto switch off with error message that can be easily fixed by switching the circuit breaker to reset it.

Karin

 

Eidetix's picture
Eidetix

Thanks for the comments. Please keep them coming.

I also ran my Jenn-Air oven at high temps. When it worked, it worked well -- but isn't that what they're supposed to do? That's what I paid a bit extra for. At a premium price, I thought I was buying performance and reliability.

The joke's on me. I wish I was laughing.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

Quote:
Its electronics are prone to failure ...

The very first thing I'd ask, without even knowing the brand of oven or its history, is if you create steam in your oven, and if so how?

If you have any oven with electronic controls, it's much safer to use the cover ("magic bowl") method of steaming. Any method that generates steam throughout your oven (not just under the cover) is likely to make any electronic control go kaput. If your procedure includes anything like open fry pans, open cast iron pans, ice cubes, lava rocks, towels, or a mister, and you have any oven with electronic controls, beware.

Electronic controls are ubiquitous on new electric ovens these days;I don't have a sense of how common they are on gas ovens, but I'm quite suspicious.

Might this explain your experience?

DerekL's picture
DerekL

Three failures in nine years - and you're damming the whole brand?  Methinks your expectations are a wee bit unrealistic.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Not to damn the whole brand, but certainly not "unrealistic expectations" for a major appliance, especially for the price paid, along with the expensive repairs. But I guess it depends on one's perspective.

No experience with these electronically controlled ovens/ranges, but over the last 45 years, this household has only had 2 ovens: both relatively simple GE electric ovens with no electronic controls(microprocessors,etc). Just an occasional(evry 5 years) replacement of the bottom element(which is exposed). Very simple and cheap self repair.

There does seem to be some history of jennaire having problems with the contols being damaged by steam. Even stove top controls sustaining damage from steaming pots on the stovetop. Can't say if this happens any more than other brands of similar type though.

I know I would never look forward to having a home oven that breaks down with the freqency and expense of the op.

Even Rolls Royce probably makes a "lemon" every now and then. The key is the frequency and the support(and cost) going forward.

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

I have to say I'd be P.O.'d too if an inexpensive part repeatedly failed. Cutting corners on already cheap parts is a false economy, and is reason enough to be down on the brand. Any decent switch's mean time between failures should be in the tens of thousands of operations; certainly longer than than the average three year's time the OP experienced.

Were it the thermostat probe, or the light socket that failed, I might think moisture (though that would argue poor design, as ovens are intended for roasting which is a wet cooking), except the switches are not in the oven, and are not subjected to intense heat or moisture.

Rather than toss the appliance, consider a well thought out plan of complaint. There is ample evidence that if you climb the levels one by one, there will finally be that guy who tells his people to fix the problem and don't let him have to  deal with it again.

In my own case, GTE (now Verizon) had my new phone number as unlisted. After nearly six months of trying to get it right,  I phoned the president's office in San Angelo. After telling my sad story to his secretary (they're called personal assistants nowadays), I  got a full refund of my phone bill, though I had only asked for 50%, and directory assistance immediately dropped the unlisted bit. In another example, I ordered some computers from Dell, about $2100 worth. They misapplied my payment and wouldn't fulfill the order. My cleared check didn't seem to matter. I finally realized we were at an impasse. I emailed Michael Dell with all previous correspondence attached, asking him whether he had enough pull to fix things. About 10AM the next morning, the customer service manager, who had been very pleasant but not helpful, phoned to  say the order was shipping that day, that the monitors were complementary, the shipping would be on them, and a discount would be applied on the computers. The order came the next day via UPS, and a check for a little over $600 was received a few days later.

The point is that if you have a legitimate beef, it can be worthwhile to complain in an orderly and rational manner. Escalate the complaint until reaching the brick wall, then pull out the big guns. Mail the boss.  There are websites that even give the top dogs' phone numbers; others that neatly discuss effective tactics to make your gripe heard where it matters.

An oven is not a toaster or a Mr Coffee to be trash canned when it gives up the go. If all you get from JennAir is one more repair, that's another three or four years for budgeting a new oven. If you get zip, you're no worse off than before.

cheers,

gary

Eidetix's picture
Eidetix

Once more, contributors' two cents worth is much appreciated.

I learned about the hazards of steam to electronics after my oven crapped out. When baking bread, my steam pan was always on the top shelf just inside the door (and directly under the "brains" of the slide-in unit). It had to be, for safe and easy access. Would it be unreasonable to expect a prominently featured warning on the oven about this not uncommon practice? I guess you'd have to ask the folks who make Jenn-Air ranges.

Just the same, no one was steaming the oven when the same switch failed twice previously in the last 8 years. I'd like to ask the manufacturer about that history as well.

I am grateful for Mr. Frost's good advice about ovens without electronics. I am technologically backward, but I am pretty sure that stove and oven design is relatively simple. I would be willing to sacrifice some efficiency or precision in exchange for design that is basic enough to limit the number and types of parts that are more likely to go bad.

And I thank Gary for his suggestions about pursuing customer satisfaction. It's always a good idea to weigh options and their costs and benefits before reaching for the sledgehammer or the hand truck when trouble comes and anger boils.

That said, I am unfortunately old enough to remember the days when a decent dollar bought an appliance that performed as advertised for a lifetime. That kind of quality seems to have gone the way of the rotary telephone. (I sound like the universal grandfather now, don't I?)

And maybe I'm irrational, but I would hesitate to take another Jenn-Air range if you gave it to me.

Please keep the comments coming. Has anybody had comparable experiences with their Jenn-Air equipment?

Thanks again.

Bob

bnom's picture
bnom

Bob, as you say, in the old days they built for quality to last a lifetime.  You're right. Maybe you should think about getting an old range. I have a double oven GE hotpoint range that is from the late 50s.  Sometimes a burner goes out and it's a simple enough procedure for someone like me to fix myself.  I've cranked up this range to 525 for bread baking for 17 years and only once had to call in someone to repair it...cost $75.  Another big benefit is that one of my ovens is wide enough to make long baguettes.

 

Mary Clare's picture
Mary Clare

I have a 13 year old Jenn-Air oven, so I can't speak about their new products.  But we have spent more on repairs in this oven than on the oven itself, and it would be even more if I didn't have a handy husband.  I used to have a GE Profile oven that was great.  I loved the snap-out element that made replacement easy.  The Jenn-Air (and maybe all others now) makes replacing an element in a wall oven a big project.  Most of the other money went to fix the computer stuff, located right over the vents.

Another thing.... I will never get another white oven, even though all my other appliances are white.  It has a window (I LIKE a window, I know not all want one...) but the white speckles on the window reflect light and make it impossible to make any useful observation  on the state of the food inside.  

Happy Thanksgiving!