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Whirlpool replaces defective self-cleaning oven

Q: Last August, we bought a 30-inch Whirlpool electric range that cost $747 from Orville's Home Appliance store on North Bailey Avenue in Amherst. We've had a lot of problems with the oven since it was delivered Aug. 21.

After it was installed, we discovered the oven door was defective and the stove top was scratched. Orville's arranged for both of those problems to be corrected.

After a few weeks, I tried the self-cleaning feature and had only baked potatoes in the oven up to that point. The self-cleaning mechanism came on for three hours, as it was supposed to, but instead of coming clean, it left a stain. I also have baked an apple pie in it, which bubbled over some, and the self-clean did not take care of it.

I called Orville's and a service call was arranged. The technician tried to clean the spill on the oven floor. Since there also was a burner problem, Orville's arranged another service call and that technician also called Whirlpool about the failure of the self-cleaning feature. In mid-December, the technician called us to say that Whirlpool told him they wouldn't do anything about the problem, because the self-cleaning mechanism cannot be repaired.

On Dec. 12, another technician replaced the defective burner control, and while in my home, he called Whirlpool about the oven problem. He also was told the oven would not be replaced and it cannot be fixed. It was suggested that I use 'Easy Off' for self-cleaning ovens.

I have not complained about the latest problem: Another burner is not working; it takes 15 minutes to boil water and a long time to do eggs.

Please help.

-- Helen C. Sloan, Williamsville.

A: You have every right to be frustrated, based on what you paid for the oven, which has had quite a history of problems for being so new.

Resolving the self-cleaning issue was a bit complicated. Whirlpool demanded a detailed e-mail from us before responding a week later. In the meantime, we contacted Orville's.

Store manager Bob Mathiebe stressed to us that self-cleaning ovens don't always look perfect when the process is done. "All self-cleaning does is get extremely hot inside. You do have to wipe [the oven] out ahead of time, depending on what spilled."

"Maybe it's beyond what self-cleaning can do," Mathiebe said, noting that your Dec. 26 letter to News Power was the first time he'd heard of your problem.

Meanwhile, a Whirlpool customer service representative contacted you on Dec. 29 and said the company would be shipping you a bottom part of the range by Wednesday that you could have installed. As you indicated to us, that made little sense: "Shipping me half a stove is useless. I don't think it could be the right part."

Orville's promised to look into the matter further, which it did. Mathiebe told us Tuesday that Orville's was willing to exchange your oven for the same model, or have you select any other oven you would like. If it cost more than what you paid, you could pay the difference. Mathiebe also said that the manufacturer's booklet from Whirlpool states that it is not a stain-free product.

We contacted you later Tuesday to inform you of the offer to exchange the oven and you were thrilled.

Mathiebe told us Thursday that you had been in to pick out another oven and selected the same model. He said it was scheduled to be delivered and installed on Friday, and that the one old would be removed.

"I think she'll be happy and I told our delivery department to make sure everything is perfect," Mathiebe said. "Every time she had a problem, we tried to fix it."

Sloan said she was pleased with the exchange offer and said Mathiebe told her to expect some discoloration to be involved with self-cleaning. "I can hardly believe I'm getting a new stove" she told us.

Whirlpool Corp. called us back Friday to say that you were getting a replacement stove. ". . . I wanted to let you know that we took care of that cost," said Monica Teague, Whirlpool's manager of media relations, in a detailed voice message. "We regret that they had any issues with the oven and we pride ourselves in resolving customer care issues as quickly as possible."

Overall, Teague termed the issues with the oven an "isolated incident."

Happy cooking and cleaning with your new oven!

Have a consumer problem? Send a letter summarizing your problem to News Power, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y., 14240. Attention: Karen Robinson. Please include a phone number. Or e-mail:

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