Tuesday, January 30, 2007

How Many Repair Guys Does It Take to Change a LIGHTBULB?

Back in November, the lightbulb in our four year old built-in KitchenAid microwave burned out. We looked in the microwave and there did not seem to be a way to get to the lightbulb. So we took out the manual and looked through it. We couldn't find instructions for changing the lightbulb. So we called KitchenAid Customer Service.

Them: The lightbulb has to be changed by a repairman.
Me: What??? You are kidding, aren't you? Can you say POOR engineering design?
Them: "Would you like to make an appointment for a service call, or not?"

We made the appointment and called KitchenAid back several times, each time speaking to a higher level of Customer Service. Nothing doing, they can't help us and they certainly weren't admitting to a design problem.

Repair guy shows up.

Me: Where's the lightbulb?
Him: Oh, I don't have that lightbulb with me, it's a special order.
Me: So why did you come if you don't have the lightbulb? I gave them the model number and told them we needed a new lightbulb.
Him: Oh, I have to check to make sure it's really the lightbulb that needs changing and not something else wrong.

I watch him as he opens the microwave door, looks into it, then closes the door.

Him: Yep, it's the bulb, I'll have to order one and come back. Lightbulb and labor will be $175. How would you like to pay for that?
Me: WHAT??? $175? To change a lightbulb? I'll get back to you.

So I called KitchenAid again. I was livid that I would have to pay $175 to change the lightbulb every few years. No satisfaction. I got the name and address of the president for KitchenAid so I could send a letter of complaint. Then I called to reschedule the follow-up appointment.

Me: The file on this repair is still open. The lightbulb needs to be ordered and then I need an appointment for the repairman to install it.
Them: Okay. How's January 27th?
Me: When? That's a month away! Fine, I'll take it. Can I request a morning appointment? Don't forget, the lightbulb needs to be ordered. I don't want to waste another day just to have a lightbulb replaced.
Them: Okay. I'll put you down for morning, but the repairman can come anytime between 8 am and 5 pm.
Me: Okay, but don't forget the lightbulb needs to be ordered. Please let me know if the lightbulb does not arrive in time so we can reschedule the appointment.

So January 27th rolls around and my husband and I are waiting for our morning appointment. The repairman finally shows up at 2 pm.

Us: (in unison) Where's the lightbulb?
Him: I don't have the lightbulb. I have to check to make sure that's what the problem really is.
Us: (in unison) But someone was already here to do that!
Him: They were? Let me check the microwave, maybe I have the right lightbulb in my truck.

We watch him as he opens the microwave door, looks into it, then closes the door. Déjà vu?

Him: Nope, I don't have that bulb, it's a special order.
Us: (in unison - now we are starting to sound like the chorus of a Greek tragedy) So this is going to take $175 and THREE visits to change a #%*&#@ lightbulb??? How soon can this be fixed?
Him: I can come back on February 10th.

So the saga continues. . .

Just for the record, I will be videotaping this lightbulb replacement so that I can do it MYSELF, next time. Maybe I will learn how to use YouTube, so I can share the secret of the lightbulb changing with other poor souls.

Oh - by the way did I mention that KitchenAid is the name of the company that engineered this poorly designed product?


MamaLee said...

And WHY do people not believe us when we tell them what the problem is? Like me are morons. Um, I need a new roof to my house because, oh, I don't know, I can see the sky when I lie flat on my couch, and I DON'T have a skylight?

I remember having a similar discussion with some chicky on the phone about our dishwasher's heating element last year. "Yup, I'm SURE. Order the part. I'm looking at it right now, and the darn thing is snapped in HALF. Yes, I looked at the diagram in the owner's manual, so I KNOW it's the element. For some odd reason I think it would stop the dishwasher from working properly." Hm.


Hopefully you'll get your light soon. UGH!

Sunil said...

That is too funny and is also symptomatic of the current level of customer service that we get for our consumer durables... I have faced variations on this theme at our home and I completely understand how you feel. You must learn the process on UTUBE - all it takes is a bit of publicity on some of these foul ups and the company will jump through hoops to correct it.....

Mark said...

What does it matter if Kitchen Aid does not make you a happy customer?

Can't have too much impact on there company, can it?

Not too much, now how many of hundreds of people have read your Kitchen Aid story. Tons of impact by not making you happy!

Believe me in the end, you have cost Kitchen Aid 100 times the $175.00 dollars they are charging you!

Jackie said...

Oh, my God, Sunflower - that is funny. Well, maybe not ha ha funny, but you know what I mean. I think I'd just buy a new microwave! I've been known to cut off my nose to spite my face! :-)

Marion said...

Sunflower, great post...KitchenAid has egg on their face, for sure.

Can't wait to find out if on Feb.10, they actually bring a lightbulb!

Sunflower Optimism said...

Mamalee, I think they are all robots who have to follow a script. They are not paid to think. Not any of them. Good luck with the dishwasher!


So, Sunil, you think it's funny, huh? Well, you can either cry or laugh (or go through a lot of curse words, LOL) I guess it's best for my blood pressure to laugh.


Mark - you flatter me! My readership is NOT that widespread! Now if everyone mentions me on their blogs . . .


Yeah, thanks Jackie - only this is a built-in - WITH an oven, so it would mean replacing both. They've got us pretty much over the proverbial barrel. At least the oven lightbulb can be replaced by mere humans!


Me too Marion! I'll let you know on the 10th, LOL.

BobCiz said...

Same problem, different brand. When the light bulb went out on our Sharp microwave we learned that a service call would be necessary to change it. The cost would have been more than the microwave was worth, so now the stuff in it gets nuked in the dark. Still tastes the same.

Kat said...

Well I know what kind of microwave I WONT be buying. That is so ridiculous Sunflower! Do you have one of those consumer watchdog groups with your local news? You should call them, it would be a great story for them to chase.

Desiree said...

So are you going to order the light bulb yourself this time. I mean it sounds like that is the only way you'll really get one!!! Maybe you should just buy a flash light and shine it in the microwave LOL

Well really if that were not so frustrating it would be hilarious! Good Luck!

Incidentally, I actually work for a national Part's Department if you want to send me an email with the make and model number of your microwave I'd be more than happy to look it up at work when I go back next week and give you a price on that bulb.

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

This would be funny if it weren't so hopeless! Of course, me, the non- engineer, would solve the problem another way. After all, just how badly do we REALLY need a light in the microwave? Which is why we cook in the dark - it actually explains alot about my house!

The Artist said...

Talk about inbuilt obsolescence. I would have collapsed when they quoted me the service charge. There should be laws for governing such practices. Good design is in everyones interests, best wishes, The Artist.

QUASAR9 said...

Hi Sunflower,
wouldn't wish to deny you the fun of creating what may well turn out to be a prize winning 'comic' youtube video.

But, I must ask
1) How much is the microwave worth
2) How much would it cost the company to replace the lightbulb

3) I think YouTube are offering a $1000 dollars for best videos. This story definitely has the potential for a prize winning YouTube video. I would just film it go for the prize and buy a 'decent' MicroWave - one which allows you to replace the lightbulb without all the pallava

QUASAR9 said...

But what would life be without these moments to laugh at.

PS - Can you not order the lightbulb separately - and have one in stock in case the third repairman turns up without a lightbulb - lol!

Dr.John said...

$ 175 buy a new microwave.

Velvet Sacks said...

I was going to suggest a flashlight, too, and now I see Desiree beat me to it. I'd invest $10 in a heavy, long-handled flashlight, and if the repairman comes on Feb. 10th without the lightbulb, I'd whack him on the back of the head with it when he leans in to see what's "really" wrong with the microwave.

You wrote about this in a funny, entertaining way, but I know how frustrating situations like this can be. I hope your sense of humor holds out.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Well, Bob, the various programs on this KitchenAid microwave are not the greatest. Sometimes I peek in and have to snatch something out before it stops microwaving so it doesn't burn.

But I'll keep in mind not to get a Sharp now either! My old GE was the best.


Some days you just gotta laugh, Kat. Either that or my blood pressure would be through the roof. Besides, I don't think I want a whole van load of reporters and photographers running through my house, LOL.


Desiree, I was thinking of just using a flashlight, but what a pain. Thanks for the offer - they quoted me $30 something for the bulb - I'm hoping it's been ordered! I'll check with you first next time ;-)


Well Rev. Kate, see answer to Bob, above - also, here's a hot tip for you - don't buy a Sharp microwave either!


You're right, there should be laws, my friend The Artist. I did almost collapse when they quoted me the $175 - that's why I said I'd get back to them - I couldn't believe it!


Quasar, the microwave is a built-in combo with the oven - to replace both would probably be around $1000. The company would charge me $175 to change the lightbulb. Thanks for the info on the YouTube contest! Now I definitely have to learn to do YouTube! ;-)


Wish it were that easy, Dr. John - the micro/oven are built-in together. As goes the micro, so goes the oven. To replace both is a lot more than $175.


Oh, Velvet, you had me in tears - don't know when I last laughed so hard! I can just picture it - "Whack!"

Getting a blog post and lots of laughs out of it was almost worth all the aggravation.

AngelDust said...

Oh dear, oh dear...

There is a site now that takes complaints such as yours and makes this known to he general public.

This IS unacceptable.

I donno... but, what kind of a microwave do you have and what was the original price?

You can get a pretty decent one for $75 Canadian - of course, brand new!

You are too, too patient - bless you both!

All the best

Sun Singer said...

I laughed all the way through your tale of trials and tribulations. I know it was wrong for me to do this. I couldn't help it because we've all been there. The cost of microwaves being what they are, you may come to the point where it's cheaper to buy a new one than to pay for a hundred repairman visits to change a bulb. At that point, may I suggest you get an axe and smash the thing to bits before mailing it off to KitchenAid?!

Jennifer said...

OMG girlfriend... I can't this... well i can but OMG it is unbelievable! So bottom line, if the lightbulb burns out just buy a new microwave! ARRGGHHH!!! Keep breathing K? :-)

goatman said...

Irate customer noted! What a disaster. But, as an engineer, I would have found a way to order the bulb on line and put it in myself. Remember: if someone built it, someone else can take it apart; he/she is not any cleverer than you are, after all. (The only product that I have had a problem with was a japanese power tool which used one-way screws. The kind they use in public bathrooms to keep malcontents from removing the screws. I ground the head of the screws off and replaced them!)
But I will never buy one of their products, thanks for the info.

CreekHiker said...

Sunflower, as it turns out, I need a microwave. ( I got tired of the vent hitting me in the head every time I shut the door. A week ago, when it fell and startled me, I grabbed and whacked it across the sink! That'll teach it, yeah!)

Anyway, Kitchen aid won't be in my kitchen! Good luck!!!

Sunflower Optimism said...

Hi Angeldust - if you have the web site that advertises complaints to the public, I'd love to have it! The problem with replacing this one is that it is a built-in with an oven - I'd have to replace both. Very expensive!


Hi Sun Singer, thanks so much for stopping by! See my answer to Angeldust, above, as to why I simply can't replace micro right now. But that axe idea DOES sound tempting! LOL


Yeah, Jennifer, it'll take worse than this to do me in, LOL. Check out answer to Angeldust, as to why I can't replace right now :-(


Thanks for visiting again, Goatman. I wasn't sure if there were any special tools needed for this or not - it is a built-in unit with an oven. I will certainly be taking notes, along with some video so I can do it myself next time!


Creekhiker, isn't it satisfying to beat up on an offending piece of machinery? LOL I like Sun Singer's idea of smashing it to bits with an axe. . . I can picture it in my mind. . .

Good luck with the new one - did I mention that you shouldn't get a KitchenAid? LOL

Jackie said...

I came back to see if you'd posted about getting that new bulb - and then reread and found it isn't until the 10th! I'm just so anxious to hear "the rest of the story"! :-) I'll keep my fingers crossed that they don't send another guy out just to exam it!

sandy said...

Funny but hair-pulling maddening. Pity you couldn't send the whole thing back to KitchenAid.

And Mark's right, I cerainly wouldn't buy anything from them.
Hope it finally gets changed, sunflower.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Well, Jackie and Sandy - it's certainly not looking good. I called the company to confirm the repair on Saturday. They said the bulb was sent directly to ME for the repairman to install.

I don't have it yet. Why am I not surprised?

Ordinary Janet said...

That's unbelievable. Two different guys came to make sure it wasn't something else? On the other hand, if it was something else, you would be glad.

Sunflower Optimism said...

That's right Janet - and they did nothing more than open the door, see it was dark inside and say "Yep, you need a new lightbulb." GRRRRR!

Sibyl said...

So, I'm on the internet looking for directions on how to change the light bulb that just went out in my Hotpoint Microwave which isn't all that old either, and the first site I find is yours...I think I'm starting to embrace the darkness.

Jim said...

I have the same kitchenaid microwave/oven unit and the same non working light. Did the serviceman come and can a mere mortal change this bulb? I hate to give kitchenaid any more $$. thanks

Sunflower Optimism said...

Sibyl and Jim - yes, finally all done! I have to put an update on my blog. We videotaped the guy changing the bulb - so we will NEVER have to pay for that again!

Give me a chance to get my act together, will post instructions :-)

Jim said...


My wife is really after me to change the bulb in the kitchenaid microwave. any chance you can post the video? thanks.


thatts said...

We have a 'khms147hwh0' model kitchenaid microwave and for that model it was easy to change the lightbulb, there is a top panel which was easy to remove, then the top of lightbulb holder was visible. It was rasy to remove the bulb and got a spare one from home depot and we changed it. Adding this comment as this was the search that helped us to try it out by ourself. I think with different models kitchenaid has different solutions. (in other words for our model we didn't have to pull it out of the cabinet mount).

Cai said...

Interesting to know.

Anonymous said...

We had the same problem with our GE microwave. It too was attached to an oven unit. When we heard the price of the repair, AND realized the age of the unit, we replace the microwave and oven unit. ALL BECAUSE THE LIGHTBULB BLEW OUT. we obviously, will not have another GE product in the house.

Anonymous said...

I should digg your post therefore other people are able to see it, very useful, I had a tough time finding the results searching on the web, thanks.

- Norman

Anonymous said...

I have a kitchen aid khms2050S after about 3 months it just stopped heating. one rapairman comes and says he had to order parts for it and will come back. He installs the new parts and about 3 days later it stops again, another call same repairman says he has to order another part, he comes back installs it 5 days later same story. I call a fourth time different repairman says he needs to take microwave down to rapair it but he doesnt have the parts, so he takes it down and leaves it on my kitchen floor for two weeks comes back, wrong parts. Finally after about 2 months they send out a senior technician and he fixes it. Now the halogen light bulbs underneath have to be replaced, you have to be magician to slide the two bulbs back in the tiny slots and space allotted for them. we bought kitchen aid refrig, dish washer, stove and micro and would never buy this product again. All are troublesome.