Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Planned obsolescence aka Crappy GE Appliances

Piece of $#!^ GE ProfileDo you remember my fridge that I was complaining about years ago? Well, let me remind you. We bought it when we first moved into our house 6 years ago.

Back then we bought a fancy new Energy Star GE Profile stainless steel refrigerator with french doors. Let me tell you it was not cheap. I'm wishing we had gotten a cheapo Kenmore instead because it's not worth the cost. About three and a half years ago a little plastic hinge thingy snapped off the door. This little piece of plastic is what ensures that the door remains closed. For the most part it stays closed without it, but when you close the other door, the pressure pops the "broken" door back open. So, you have to be extra vigilant about making sure both sides are closed.

Why don't we get it fixed so that we don't accidentally refrigerate the entire kitchen? Well, because in order to fix this tiny plastic piece, we need a new door. For $800. Needless to say, GE changed the way they manufacture this style and no longer puts such a stupid plastic piece on it because we aren't the only people having this problem.

About a year and a half ago the freezer ice cube tray broke. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but another large chunk of plastic came off and I think it's another one of those "one piece" deals that can't be replaced. Half the time our ice is somewhat melty, but we make do.

Well, last week the thermometer for both the fridge and freezer no longer displays. It's some digital job that lets you adjust the temperature of both units as well as tells you what the current temps are. We had to go out and buy a fridge thermometer to make sure it's still holding the temperature properly.

So, after a little over 6 years, we are proud owners of a fridge that is limping along. I wonder what will break on it next. But, I tell you the next time we buy a fridge I'm going to get one of those old-skool metal tanks with minimal working parts.

Who designs a several thousand dollar appliance that's designed to not last 5 years? Pretty much everyone these days. This planned osolescence crap is chapping my hide.

Do you have any recommendations for a replacement (and I'm not listening to you, Greenpa!)?


Always Learning said...

We go to Craiglist and buy an older model that hasn't been used much with all metal parts. They definitely don't make them like they use to. We just had to replace our dryer that was overb40 years old!!! I heard in Europe, they still build them to last. Wish we could buy them here.

Anonymous said...

When we bought our house almost eight years ago we didn't have much extra cash. We purchased a used fridge on Craigslist with the bottom freezer for $300. Eight years later it's still going strong. I figure as things have gotten newer, they've gotten junkier too. Ouch on your fridge. I'm betting you can score a brand new one on CL for 75% off.

Erica/Northwest Edible Life said...

Well, not Viking, unless you want to go thru the same thing and take out another mortgage. We've had the same kind of drama with our fridge. I just hate it. Repairs, recalls, broken ice maker, broken hinges, broken doors...crap, crap, crap. When I get really woked up I think about registering "" as a url and spewing my anger to the world wide web.

Sarah said...

I have a basic fridge with no freezer that is still chugging along being more energy efficient than a regular fridge 15 years after we bought it.
However don't get me started on our stupid 4 year old KItchenAid range. Grrrrrrrrrr.

Anna @ Blue Dirt said...

My dad used to be an appliance repairman. He refers to GE as "Generally Expensive". Even if you buy the cheapest model out there it will break and cost more than the initial investment to fix. I won't even buy a toaster from them. That said, we bought an Amana frige 7 years ago and love it. My only complaint is that the stickers are starting to peel off the crisper drawer. Oh and, skip ice makers they're always trouble.

Lynn from said...

I am so with you on this one, Deanna. In my arsenal of unwritten posts is one about the Montgomery Ward stove that came with the house we bought. It must have been circa 1973. We finally got rid of it two weeks ago when we were down to one burner! The expected life of our new stove? Six years. It is maddening.

Jenn, Pint-sized Pioneering said...

We have mostly Kenmore appliances. They may be inexpensive in comparison but "cheapo" they are not. We haven't had to put a penny in repairs or upkeep into either the gas range or the run-of-the-mill fridge with a freezer on top.

You've learned the hard way that the more bells & whistles that come on an appliance, the more things that can - and will - break. The old fridges from the 50s are still functional because they were so basic: no moving parts, no thermometers, no electronics, no fancy doors, heck, no shelves on the doors.

koolchicken said...

I hate the GE fridges, I had the exact one you're complaining about. They were widely installed throughout the complex I live in and EVERYONE has had issues with them. For the most part they leak and don't stay cool enough. I stayed in one of the units here and the fridge would periodically stop working altogether. I don't find it funny to come home to a fridge/freezer full of melted food when a gallon of milk alone cost about $8. This happened more than once. It also used to run constantly and the floor around it would be hot! And did I mention that our electric bill was over $300 every month just because of this fridge?

I finally bought my own unit and the first thing I did was sell all the old appliances (buyers were warned beforehand). I bought electrolux for my range, dishwasher, washer/dryer, and microwave. For my fridge I bought a samsung and couldn't be happier. It was expensive but I figured I'm going to be living with these things for a very long time so I better like them. And any appliance that can cut down on energy usage is worth it in my book.

Katy @ The Non-Consumer Advocate said...

I always try and always buy appliances with as few bells and whistles as possible. Knobs on stove instead of electronic readout, etc. We bought the cheapest sealed burner stove we could find around 7 years ago, and it works great. It is very unimpressive looking, but I have produced some spectacular meals from it. Also, when it needed a repair, my husband was easily able to do it.

I know this is unrelated to planned obsolescence, but I have a theory about the inverse relationship between the amount of money spent on a kitchen and actual meals that get made in them.

Chef Matt said...

I use commercial hobart reach-ins, one cooler and one freezer. Zero bells and whistles, built simple and tough.

Robj98168 said...

Crunchy... I feel your pain...
I also have a GE Profile Energy Star... have had it for 6 years and no problems (OK the reefeer part quit working for a week and I lived like Greenpa, but it was an easy fix)... but the garage fridge I just retired was a Maytag no frills model that didn't last 5 years. Planned obsolescence is just the way the man sticks it to us. BTW my word verification is smorr, which is what you should relax and eat! :P

Kate said...

You know, I would recommend you write a letter to GE customer relations. Write it out by hand, on lined paper, put it in the mail. Detail what you've been happy with, as well as your frustrations. Put in some details about you too, such as your resistance to planned obsolescence or mindless spending. Tell them you believed you were buying a high quality durable good that would last a decade at the very least. It may not hurt to mention any other GE products you've used and had good experiences with, or the fact that you write a very popular blog.

Be detailed, sincere, and complain politely. I can't promise anything of course, but you may be amazed at the results.

Anisa said...

can't recommend a thing - I've been shopping CL for a real ice box. ;)

e4 said...

We had a basic Amana bottom freezer model for at least a decade. When we relocated, we left it behind. The new place had a fridge, but it died after a few months.

What we bought to replace it was a GE, but not a GE Profile. It has no ice maker, no bells or whistles of any kind.

What I like about it is that it's WAAAY down there on the Energy Star ratings - like off the bottom of the chart. The doors are literally three inches thick. Functionally, it does what we want - keep stuff cold.

We took the same approach when our range croaked. The new stove has a clock, and a timer - that's it. No digital temperature display, no specialty burners. Hell, it doesn't even tell me when the oven is preheated. It does one thing - make stuff hot.

Working with technology every day has taught me that the more features something has, the more things can (will) go wrong.

I used to fall into the more-is-better trap when it came to features. Look, this gadget can replace five other things! Then when it breaks, you might not be able to do any of those five things. So I've gradually moved from one end of the spectrum to the other - from being a gadget nerd to being excited that we found a used minivan without automatic doors - yaay, one less thing to break!

Anonymous said...

We've had a base model Whirlpool side by side for about 7 years now. The only problem we've had is that the ice maker has gone out, but we suspect that a hose is clogged somewhere in the system, so I'm not sure if you can really blame that on the fridge. The seal is fantastic on the doors and it's always kept things cold. I agree with the other readers to choose the least amount of bells and whistles possible - it will be that much easier to deal with in the long run.

Greenpa said...

"Do you have any recommendations for a replacement (and I'm not listening to you, Greenpa!)?"

lol. Ha! So you say! But my stance seems to have established a permanent place in your awareness!

Seriously, I wasn't going to nudge for the fridge-free life in this current post; I don't have the time today to make a serious effort there.

But- I AM going to raise a different topic here; which is "The Energy Star" program- I hate to tell ya; but it's a scam; from the beginning, and still ongoing. A big, fat, Official US Energy Dept. scam.

Multiple reports from Inspectors General, from the EPA to the Govt. Accountability Office, come to the same conclusion- fraud is widespread in the program, and dead easy- and nobody in the Gov't is actually watching or requiring truth.

Google "Energy Star Inspector General" and you will find zillions of actual reports, and the press that followed (and disappeared quickly).

Truth- fraud is not only widespread; the program was set up - BY THE APPLIANCE INDUSTRY - to work that way. Yep- it's an official government certification program- conceived, set up, and run- by the industry.

Why would industry set this up? Because the Gummint was threatening to actually test and regulate, and set standards for performance. Boy, we can't have that. So the big sweet industry stepped up, and said "Oh, gosh, let us regulate ourselves! We'll do it right, you know!"

When you read the information on the outside of the box- just be aware- those numbers were put there- to sell you what's in the box; and NOBODY has checked to see if those numbers are in any way true.

Consumer Reports will get you much closer to truth; but they traditionally have tested for function and durability; paying little attention to energy consumption, or embedded energy. Still. Better than nothing.

Panamamama said...

You might check used appliance stores in your area and ask them to keep a look out for that part. It's a long shot I know, but you might get lucky! We have one of the first GE front loader washer and dryer sets (before they had a thing on the front to clean the filter out of the washer.) I kept having to call the service guy to come fix it because it would leak til he told me "Just leave the front panel off and clean it once a month." My clothes constantly smell like mold still. Won't go with GE for washer/dryer again, even if it did cut my water bill in half. Got to be something better.

TechChik said...

Why not convert a chest freezer into a fridge? It's about as energy efficient as you can get, (0.1 kwh/day) and there are very few parts that can be broken. It's also pretty darn cheap.

Google "chest freezer fridge conversion" or check out

Julie said...

It's hard to let go of the dream of having a beautiful, shiny, gleaming kitchen with lovely purring appliances that do everything short of peeling potatoes for you. But yes hanging on to simple old appliances is the best way to go. It saves you money in initial cost and repairs(although you have to watch out for stuff so old there are no parts for it) and most important it saves our dear planet from one more pretty much unnecessary appliance being created and then junked to satisfy our need for that bloody shiny new kitchen ;-)
(By the way Katy, some of the best meals I ever ate were made with a wok on a hibachi out of the back of my car.)

Greenpa said...

TekChik and converting freezers; I looked at the links, and read the "entire" pdf.

This is something I attempted to do myself, 10 years ago. We bought a freezer designed for off-grid efficiency, intending to make it a refrigerator for the business, for seed storage.

I gave up. Long stories- if people read that pdf, though; they can learn why; the conversion is actually NOT simple, nor the problems necessarily obvious.

BUT - that guy has a way better handle on it than I did at the time; and his guidelines are good. The thermostats he uses weren't available when I was trying- if people know what they're doing; it can be worth a shot.

steve c said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Sunfrost. Check it out. No defrost cycle, very simple design, and very eficient. With no defrost sucking water out, veggies stay fresh and crisp much longer, and you can adjust the freezer temp separate from the fridge section. We are quite pleased with ours.
They are a bit expensive, like many things that save in the long run.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Steve - We spent a bit of time looking at Sunfrost last night. We haven't made any decisions and will keep our old one until it totally dies, but Sunfrost is on our radar.

Robj98168 said...

I have to give up a "yay" to greenpa- while not going to go reefer less, I myself have a few questions on energy star ratings. Case in point, i just bought a new freezer, inpart to retire the old fridge in the garage. A small (5 cubic feet- more than enought for me)freezer the runs on 240Kwh per year The closest energy star model I could find was a huge 14.9 Cubic foot model, that cast 4 times as much and uses 357 Kwh per year to run. Now while I am not say Energy Star is a scam, they do not seem to take into consideration everyone's uses. Although the Energy star model uses40 Kwh per year than a comparable model that is the same size. So I guess I go energy star when it makes sense. But Grennpa does make a point.

andrea said...

Planned obsolescence gets me mighty worked up, too. I remember reading about the effort that goes into making something break as soon as possible yet not so soon as to lose consumer confidence. I feel like we all need to make a bigger stink to the companies, on the internet (awesome to see you addressing it here), and to anyone who will listen. The manufacturers need to get the message that we are on to them and they need to respond to our product requirements (work, last, and be able to be repaired).

We really need companies to be responsible for the full costs of the products they make including production and eventual disposal. They would pass these costs on to the buyer, but maybe these higher costs would create enough outrage to finally make people speak up about the insanity of planned obsolescence.

Elizabeth said...

My one year old fridge's vegetable crisper was a little stuck when I tried to open it and I gave it a little harder than average tug and suddenly I had the handle and a large chunk of plastic drawer front in my hand.
I think I stared at it in disbelief for a full minute.

Betsy Escandon said...

We bought a used fridge when we moved into our current rental just over a year ago. The deli drawer was broken, but other than that I don't see too many parts that could break and make it obsolete. It is a pretty cheapy fridge that has temperature issues (if freezer is sufficiently cold, stuff in the back of the fridge freezes, etc.).

My current battle is my toaster oven. I can't live w/o a toaster oven and mine is on the fritz - having electrical issues. I was just over at my friend's house and she has this dinky little toaster oven -- same brand (Oster) -- she tells me she got as a hand-me-down when she got married SEVEN YEARS AGO. They don't make em like they used to. I wish I knew somewhere to get my current one repaired. I haven't bought a new one yet b/c I'm having too much green guilt about it.

Unknown said...

Ditto on Chef Matt. I have 6 kids and a 2000 sq ft garden so I need a LOT of fridge space. We went with an Arctic Air Commercial fridge-all metal shelves and the door locks (reduces midnight raids;-) Our freezer is separate and has to be defrosted but the energy savings are worth it. Then again, I have a lot of free labor. Go to a used restaurant supply store--they're everywhere, restaurants go out of business all the time, and pick out what suits you. Our Arctic Air has been going strong over a decade. You don't need new--you just need quality.

Jody said...

I recommend finding a donor or using craigslist. We have 1 fridge and two freezers... lots of homegrown storage. 2 of them were donated by friends and the 3rd cost $250. They work fine. Our electric bill is not high.

There's just no way we could justify $2,000 on a fridge when we're trying to save a fraction of that amount on our food bill each year by growing our own food.

Although I have to admit. Those big fridges with bottom shelf freezer space are very attractive. I'll bet we end up buying one in the long run. For now, what we have is adequate.

Vikki said...

Hi, this is Vikki with GE. I regret to hear of the difficulties you have experienced with your GE refrigerator. Please email the details to us at and we will be happy to try and assist you.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Hi Vikki,

We've had a GE repairman come out in the past (when the door broke). I really don't want to go down the road with a generic email address trying to resolve this issue.

We will be calling customer service to try to fix the thermometer issue, but unless GE wants to front us a new fridge, I'm not sure what we are going to gain besides a $1,000 charge.

Anonymous said...

You could email Vikki and tell them you will stop complaining about GE appliances if they buy you a non-GE replacement!

lisa said...

Something to keep in mind...

Rachel said...

Let me tell you, Maytag ain't much better. We had one that lasted a whopping 7 years before some tiny part broke - one that apparently breaks regularly and that Maytag/Whirlpool decided they should no longer make. Nothing worse than getting up on a Saturday morning and realizing that you no longer have a fridge and no one will deliver until the following week.

Wendy said...

Well, you got their attention :).

On this issue, I'm with Greenpa. I'd opt to keep my freezer, because we store a lot of the meat we raise, but if I could convince my husband, we'd toss the 3kwh/day-eating fridge and build a cold closet.

That said, we've had our fridge for fourteen years. We had to replace the compressor or the motor or something a few years ago, but otherwise, it's still running as it should - it just uses a lot of energy I feel could be better used elsewhere.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

I totally agree with you about the planned obsolescence-- it makes me nuts! I have a plumber in my basement right now replacing our 10 year old water heater. Apparently, I was "lucky" it lasted that long. (Wasn't feeling so lucky when I was mopping up 40 gallons of water in my basement last night though.)

About 7 years ago, we replaced a huge beast of a refrigerator from the 1970s with a Kenmore. It has no bells and whistles and we haven't had any problems. (Knock wood.)

Geomom said...

We bought a Frigidaire "fridge only" when we built our house 5 years ago. 1.5 years later we had to replace it. It had been repaired 3+ times. The coolant all escaped, the welds were bad,and a copper-aluminum fitting direct from the factory was the last to fail (those two metals corrode each other). We bought a Whirlpool fridge only with an extended warranty this time. We've had repair people out more times than I can count--3 times this summer. Coolant also leaked out on this one. Runs constantly. What a waste.

Greenpa said...

As we watch our economic system turn to crumbs before our very eyes, and watch the ants come and carry the crumbs off- it's interesting to try to conceive some other pathway.

One business model that has occurred to me, and which I'm hoping to see adopted soon- is the "lifetime contract."

You don't buy a fridge. You buy a lifetime service, of a working refrigerator. The company that makes the fridge now suddenly has an incentive to -gasp! - build a fridge that doesn't break. Because, when it does, the contract says, the company will show up on your door within 6 hours of your phonecall, and put in a brand new fridge, today. For life.

And you pay them a bit, every month; which when everyone does the math; turns out probably to be just a tiny bit more expensive than the appliance roulette we now play- vastly less wasteful in discarded appliances, and vastly less stressful for the appliance owner.

Any entrepreneurs out there? :-)

Anonymous said...

I love my Maytag. Very plain top-freezer kind; closest I can find at Sears these days is . Liked it so much we bought it twice, once in 2000 to replace an old energy hog, and once in 2003 after moving to a new house with no fridge.

Uses about 400kwh/yr, no maintenance problems since we bought it 8 years ago. Has a couple really simple, clever features that make it a joy to use: a drawer/basket in the freezer and a tilt-out basket in the freezer door. In the fridge, one shelf can be adjusted up or down with one hand if you suddenly need that shelf just an inch higher.

VHMPrincess said...

Our GE Profile dishwasher lasted 4 years. Sounds like 6 is a bargain! I won't buy GE/Kenmore anymore.

Anonymous said...

I'm late to the party, I know, please forgive. I have to take issue, Greenpa- converting a chest freezer into a fridge is not difficult. At all. You plug the freezer into the thermostat ($60), then plug the thermostat into the outlet. Then adjust the temp to somewhere above 32F. That's it. It's much easier than putting up Christmas lights or using a vacuum. It's slightly more difficult than using an extension cord, but if you can read this, you can read the thermometer, so you should have no problems. If you want a DC fridge, plug the thermostat into an inverter (big boxes like Lowe's or Home depot have small ones that cost about $30) and then plug the inverter in.
We have three chests at our house- two fridges and a freezer. All three units together use about 0.5 kWh per day. The big chest freezer (17 cu ft) cost $400 new. The 12 cu ft freezer-turned-fridge was a freebie. The 7 cu ft freezer-turned-fridge cost $150, but we sold our old upright for $150, so our net cost was $0. Plus $120 on two thermostats, we spent $550 on 29 cubic feet of super efficient chilled space. Tough to beat.

Hindy said...

Well, let me chime in. I bought what I thought was a mid to top of the line GE side-by-side refrigerator/freezer some 5 years ago. What a bunch of crap**.

First, the defrost mechanism, a flimsy glass tube more suited to lighting a fishtank, failed — twice! What’s up with that? Ah, the planned obsolescence kicked in, just in time — out of a very short (even extended) warranty. Even with the overpriced “extended warranty”, the parts failed JUST AFTER expiration of all warranties.

Second. The electronic panel that runs practically everything, failed — again, twice! This $250 piece (without labor!) had a picture perfect solder connection melted through the bottom of the circuit board. My repairman, who incidentally will not suggest or buy ANY GE product ever again (same experience as hundreds, perhaps thousands of other consumers) continually apologized for the problem even though he had nothing to do with it. He was just sorry that I had been duped into buying such American crap. Wait, aren’t most GE fridges made in Mexico or Canada? He, too, remembered the day when one bought a fridge, or a washer, or an oven, etc. from an American company because it “would last forever”.

Third but not the last, the icemaker failed. Failed miserably, including flooding my entire kitchen along with leaving a frozen waterfall (pretty, but only during winter in the Rockies). Just more crap from GE.

Lastly, but certainly not the last of my GE product failures, my GE wall oven has this quirky hitch of displaying “F7” which I have come to find out just means that there is some sort to failure going on, but it doesn’t know what! Once F7 is displayed, nothing can be done, no heat, clean, broil, etc. Even the kitchen timer can’t be used to “time” the duration of the malfunction. I searched the Internet and found out that amazingly hundreds of other had the same problem. Go figure, more GE planned obsolescence?

Bottom line — I will never, ever, buy ANY GE appliance — not a toaster, fridge, washing machine, oven, blender, etc. Nothing, nada, never. I will in all my powers of persuasion never, ever, ever let any of my loved ones make such a lame purchase of ANY GE item. I will recommend GE stuff to all my enemies. Perhaps the Chinese will start exporting refrigerators. At least they will label them “Made in China”. Also, when a Chinese manufacturer makes such an inferior product that it embarrasses the Chinese government, the head of the plant losses his head!

Can you tell that I am frustrated? Perhaps they will just sue me for libel or slander. At least then my lawyers would demand discovery of all their junk engineering along with their internal emails and memos laughing at the American public for continually buying their crap — bought with absolutely no recourse by thousands of duped consumers.
**crap |krap| vulgar slang
1 something that is of extremely poor quality.
• nonsense.
• rubbish; junk.
2 excrement.
• [in sing. ] an act of defecation.
verb ( crapped , crapping ) [ intrans. ]defecate.

Anonymous said...

My Father golfs with a guy that was an exec for a electronics co. that built the circut boards for GE. In the mid-early 90's GE required that they build curcut boards that would fail shortly after a warrantee period. These F's should be castrated for such practices. No wonder this country is going to S.