Appliance Hell: GE Refrigerator & Samsung Microwave

Recently, we have been experiencing a bit of appliance stupidity in our house.

Replacement parts for our refrigerator seem to be a major profit center for GE and our microwave was clearly designed by jackasses.

Read on for many too many details.

Our GE Profile Refrigerator’s freezer section stopped reaching 0, hovering at 10 to 28 degrees, depending on how hot the day was.

At 2.5 years old, it is out of warranty.

One $69 service call later revealed that the compressor fan wasn’t running. Cost for the relatively small, plastic fan and cheap-ass electric motor? $179. But that isn’t all that needs to be replaced.

Several years ago, GE redesigned the Profile such that it uses a “main board” — a little embedded controller — to control the various fans, pumps, etc… And when the compressor fan stops working, it either takes out the main board’s compressor fan control subsection or the main board’s compressor fan control subsection already failed and the dead compressor fan is the result.

Main board? Yeah — GE wants $250 for that. So, with labor, GE wants $520 to fix a 2.5 year old refrigerator that didn’t cost that much more than $520.

A quick search on the internet reveals dozens and dozens of similar failures. GE screwed up the design and their replacement part program is either intentionally or inadvertently a profit center.

A call to the service # yielded zero sympathy or clue. “That will be $99 to visit your refrigerator and you’ll have to talk with the [likely competent, but completely powerless, front line service guy] about not charging you to fix our screwed up product.”. Uh, no. That isn’t acceptable. I’ll be speaking to GE’s customer relations next week.

Ball is in their court. If GE makes good on fixing something that — evidence on the net and exorbitant parts quote — is clearly their problem, I might consider their products in the future. As it stands, not so much.

Update: GE didn’t care. During our remodel, we ended up sticking the refrigerator in the atrium — our make-do kitchen — with a box fan behind it. Kept the temperature stable on all but the hottest days for about 5 months until our new Kitchen Aid refrigerator was delivered and installed.

GE appliances are now on our blacklist.

The second issue is sort of funny if it weren’t actually downright dangerous.

We have a Samsung microwave that is more than a decade old. Nice enough device with the typical overly complex UI. Once you ignore all the gee-gaws and extraneous buttons, it is actually possible to program the microwave to nuke a bit of food — like, say, melt some butter — for a given amount of time at some given power level.

It goes like this:

  • Insert food into ‘wave and close door
  • Type a time
  • Hit power level button
  • Type a number from 1 to 6 (no UI indication of range), microwave will show that 10x that number (for no apparent reason).
  • Hit Start button.

Now, say, you:

  • Open door to check if butter is melting, stir it slightly (microwave, of course, stops nuking)
  • Close door
  • Hit Start button.

Beyond continuing the nuking process with the remaining time left, would you expect the microwave to also (a)continue to use the same power setting or (b)revert to full power with no indication that any change to power settings has occurred?

For whatever reason, the microwave does (b). So, if you are melting butter, this means that the microwave goes from power level 3 (which seems to work well) to power level 11 (whatever the maximum is, which seems to be beyond what you can set when you use the power level button in the first place).

This, in turn, renders the butter into a molten pool of lava like fat in a matter of seconds, shortly after which it explodes all over the inside of the microwave.

Awesome user experience, folks.

Nothing like reaching into the microwave to grab what is left of the lava butter only to have a big splat of lava butter fall off the roof of the microwave and land on the back of your hand.

30 Responses to “Appliance Hell: GE Refrigerator & Samsung Microwave”

  1. Aaron Burghardt says:

    It’s too late for you now, but I had a similar scenario with a 5-year-old Whirlpool frig. I called Sears and learned they have a fixed-price service plan that will includes the trip, parts, and an additional warranty (so basically it’s an extended warranty that they will sell you even knowing the product is broke, but before diagnosis). Of course, the plan was something like $400, which could easily be more than the cost of the repair.

  2. bbum says:

    I don’t want to pay $400 for an “extended warranty” to cover for faulty designed coupled with outrageous replacement part costs. $179 for a little fan that isn’t much different from the cheap as hell variable speed fans that can be had for $15 at Target? I don’t think so.

  3. Papa Joe says:

    do not fret son, Papa Joe will be out next week and i will take care of the fridge problem.
    microwave problem will right itself once u get a gas fired stove or you leave the butter out overnight.

    have to remember to bring my steel tipped boots for the fridge repair.

  4. Amie says:

    At least you didn’t buy it at Best Buy. I bought a cheap laptop there 4 years ago, and paid out the nose for the extended warranty/service plan with them. Shortly after buying it, the hinge started cracking right above the battery. It didn’t affect the use of the computer, so I ignored it for about a month. Eventually, it got so bad the laptop lid wouldn’t stay up. So–I take it back to Best Buy, they wouldn’t honor my warranty saying I obviously abused the machine. Um–I checked online and this hairline crack above the battery issue was all over the net. The machine didn’t even travel. And most of the time wasn’t even opened and closed, just sat open on the dining room table, where I worked while watching the baby in the next room.

    Gotta love stupid design flaws. Not.

  5. CJ says:

    Our GE fridge/freezer from 2001 is similar – incredibly over-complicated. Has needed service about once a year, always with a different sub-system. Only once have I been able to diagnose and perform the repair myself. Cripes, there’s a circuit board to control the water dispenser! I am fortunate to have a great independent repair man who moonlights from his day job as a Sears repairman.

  6. John C. Randolph says:

    I recommend KitchenAid and Sub-Zero. Never had any trouble with either of those vendors.


  7. Ellen says:

    Hate GE appliances. I live in my third home that was brand new construction and all of them came with GE appliances. Didn’t have problems with my first home, but that was over 20 years ago. Second home – washer needed a new transmission three months after purchase. The stove clock went nuts about a year or so after moving in and the dishwasher had to be replaced after 3 years. In my current home, the dishwasher went after a year and a half – of course just after the warranty expired.

    Since the builders put the cheapest appliances in new construction and I don’t trust them with upgrading, I chose to replace them. Basically, the flat charge for service is usually about half what the appliance cost. So I would rather put that money into a good replacement. Unfortunately, I bought a high end Kitchen Aid D/W and have had to buy a contract since the cheap plastic parts keep breaking!

    On the flip side, I’ve had my Amana fridg for 18 years with only one service call to find out that it would cost more to replace the gasket than the fridge is worth. So I will probably replace it with another Amana.

  8. Jeffrey J Hoover says:

    Oooh. One of our favorite rants! One problem is that there are relatively few manufacturers of appliances. Often one or two who then OEM them to others.

    I don’t remember which ones are which, but basically, MayTag = Whirlpool = Fridgedair = Samsung.

    Old stoves work better & longer, but are less efficient. Old fridges are similar, but they are a lot less efficient.

    What’s a reasonable person to do? (OK, reasonable, but can’t afford to remodel with all high-end, reliable appliances?)

    Heck, I’m still lusting after Karl Elvis’s washer/dryer…

  9. annbb says:

    Do not even get me started on repairs, warranties, or anything if that ilk! It just makes me MAD!

  10. n[ate]vw says:

    Even the best computer company in the world can’t get the first story straight. Either you pay big bucks for their extended warranty racket, or twice that for a new part that may well have failed because of designed-in thermal stress.

    I wish more companies would shine like Seagate. Their 5-year warranty plus Moore’s law pretty much guarantees you will have N gigabytes of storage until same is dirt cheap anyway. That tells me they have confidence in what they sell.

  11. GE Profile Refrigerator » Blog Archive » Appliance Hell: GE Refrigerator & Samsung Microwave says:

    […] pilot found this at posted on Jul 20 from topix: Recently, we have been experiencing a bit of appliance stupidity in […]

  12. Chris E . says:

    Same thing is happening to us on the fan for the profile refrigerator. Just replaced it for the second time and still doesn’t work. Not even three years old and of course not under warranty anymore. Will never purchase a GE appliance again. Had better luck with the old Whirlpool one.

  13. Floyd Asbury says:

    GE Proflie products stink!!!
    The root of all our problems rests in the GE design for obsolescence program. I know they have this in place otherwise no one could be stupid enough to implement the designs they have.

    A refrigerator that pukes out ice cubes or water anytime it so desires; without human intervention or control.

    A dishwasher that shorts out and fizzles, not one but two; I must have been in my moron phase for replacing the first bad dishwasher with it’s clone.

    Complaints to GE customer service is a blach hole, they do not respond…….

  14. bbum’s weblog-o-mat » Blog Archive » Hole in Pipe? Remodel 1/2 the House! says:

    […] are living in the rest of the house. Our kitchen, including our piece of crap GE refrigerator with a box fan behind it to keep it cool reside within the […]

  15. B Fox says:

    Lots of negative comments, but does anyone know who the few manufacturers of all these brands are?

  16. fisherwidow says:

    Just had the same problem with GE Profile frig/freezer side by side circuit board needing replacement. Only 3 years old. I didn’t get extended warranty, but repairman (NOT SEARS) told me it was still under warranty by GE because it was a common problem and we didn’t have to pay anything. Over the phone, GE people said if it was a compressor problem, it would be covered, but when repairman came, it was not a compressor problem, the circuit board caused the compressor to stop. So even though I could have been ripped off, he was honest enough to le me know it was still covered by GE. Make sure you don’t get ripped off either!!!!!

  17. Rex Hamilton says:

    We have a 1 1/2 year old GE refrigerator that has a very annoying design flaw. Prior to the freezer defrosting, the system was designed to sub cool the freezer to -9 degrees. It is impossible to get ice cream out of the container at -9. We have been around and around with GE and they will not admit that there is anything wrong with this design. This sub cooling occurs at least twice a week during the dinner hour. I asked GE why, if this extreme sub cooling is absolutely necessary, the computer was not programed to have the sub cooling take place at say 2 AM. That way the customer could serve ice cream without using a hammer and chisel. Also, during defrosting, all the packages in the freezer are covered with heavy frost.

    Now we have discovered that our GE dishwasher has a cracked housing, the one piece enclosure that is essentially the entire dishwasher, excluding the door. I can imagine what the replacement of that is going to cost. Probably as much as a new dishwasher.

    Many years ago, GE was a good name. Today it is the appliance from Hell!

  18. Robert says:

    Well as with any refrigerator if the condenser fan goes out it will stop cooling effeently. This may cause stress to the compresor as well. How ever it is not true that this will cause the main controle board to fail, nether is it true that you defanately need a compressor. More time than not the over heating and constant overload tripping the compresor brought on by no cooling condenser fan, all that needs replaced is the compresor relay and over load. The condensor fan moter can be bought at your local appliance parts store or on lione from a site like mine. Too many “Appliance techs” take advantage of unknowing consumers when it comes to an out of waranty appliance. On the GE profile a main board issue usely shows itself as the despencer door opening and closeing by itself, or the temp display way out of wack or an “E” code in the display when diagnostics are run. More than likely all you need is a new condeser fan moter, and relay for your refrigerator. You can exspect to spend in the area of (if you pay someone) $135.00 to have it repaired. Much cheaper to fix it yourself.

  19. Eileen McDoniels says:

    I’ve been reading all the problems EVERYONE is having with their GE referigerators (as well as other GE appliances). (I have a GE side-by-side that isn’t 4 years old now that has had numerous problems that reoccur. Yes, I’m dealing with a reocurring problem now – whinning noise and fan that continuously cycles on/off). There has to be something we can do collectively. Can we write letters to ask our government to force a recall? Can we file a class action lawsuit? Someone must know what we can legally do so GE doesn’t get away with this gigantic rip off. Why don’t we all spend some time at appliance stores warning people attempting to purchase GE appliances – tell them our story – direct them to do some research and direct them to the various sites on-line! WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING.

  20. Dyson cleaner says:

    It sounds like some people have really had some nightmares!

    [Ed: MMm… Dyson Spam. But.. have to say… the Dyson’s do completely kick ass. We replaced the vacuum in this post with a Dyson and it not only works really well, but has survived a remodel — vacuuming up all kinds of construction dust & debris with aplomb.]

  21. Twatiti Wogi says:

    Just bought GE 12 cu. ft fridge, freezer smoked upon ten minutes of turning it on.(instructions were followed to adjust a degree at a time over a 12 hour period)…. now it won’t cool below 5 degrees celcius, If it does make it that far, the stink of burnt metal comes back??? what happened??
    I would have rather dug a hole and had a cellar instead paying over a thousand dollars for this high buzzing gurgling peice of GE JUNK!!

    BEWARE!!!!! OF THE GBC12GAXSS refrigerator!!!! BEWARE!!!!…….. a bloody dud in the mail is what you’ll get…..

    i’d be a billionaire if I could design an energy efficient fridge that was dead quiet.
    Does anybody have any suggestions?

  22. Brian Papesh says:

    I have to chime in too! Like all you others, GE has robbed me too. I have a GE Profile refrigerator and had temp issues also. Replaced the condensor fan, then the motherboard. That was in August of 07′. Now, once again, it looks as though I need to pay the piper again! It seems GE has designed a unit that keeps on paying themselves. Only a GE electrical engineer could have brewed this scam up. Motherboards burning up every twenty months or so! I think I will place a small CRT fan in place of the crappy overpriced/underpowered energystar condensor fan and run it continuously. Something along the lines of that. It seems the key here is to find a way to get a dependable cooling fan in place to keep the compressor temp under control, so the motherboard (strategecally placed right above) does not overheat and burn up. I’m tired of having to replace motherboards! Which by the way are about $150.00 now.

  23. John Thomas says:

    I have a 3 year old GE side by side and it would not quit running. I went to my site of which I am an affiliate and found that the defroster element was a primary cause of this. The info I found said to check the back wall of the freezer section for frost. Mine had frost almost from top to bottom. The part that needed replaced was the defrost heater element. GE recognized that the single element that originally came with the refrigerator, was of bad design, so they have suggested using a dual element type. The dual element was cheaper than the original one, so I bought it. They recommended pulling the back freezer panel as part of the install process and when I did it was completely frozen over with thick frost and ice. This prevents air flow across the coils so that the cold air can get to the thermostat to satisfy it, and shut the refrigerator off.
    Two days later, I had the new one installed and everything is working like it should. I need to say that I am not a tech or anything like that, but this was an easy fix. In full disclosure, I must say that I do have a website that sells refrigerator parts:
    I hope I have not stepped on any toes here. If so, please let me know

  24. bbum says:

    Nope– no toes squashed. Full disclosure with useful information is fine way of driving traffic to your site. Thanks for posting!

  25. tracey strain says:

    we bought a, ge washer ,dryer,gas range,microwave,dishwasher,and frig. got rid of 15 yr old washer and dryer ge.that worked great. the new on is two years old . and the washer dose not work any more needs nwe motor already!!!!! and ge service tech told us it would be more to fix washer than to buy a new one. this is crap . you know what you try to do the right thing and buy american and keep our country strong and this is what you get. another big corp that dose not care about what they sale you . just take your money and kick you to the curb like a peace of trash!!!!!!!!!!!!! well i for one will never buy any ge appliances ever again, nothing with ge on it or any other brands they owen. and i will tell everone i can come in contact with no to either. ge for got who made them who they are!!!!!!!!!!!!!! people like me , working americans !!!!!!! i hope they go broke !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    tracey strain

  26. Beth Murphy says:

    Same issues here….had motherboard and fan replaced 6 months ago on the GE Profile side by side mfg in 2006. …here we go again. Now the refrigerator and freezer are not keeping up…AGAIN. I found out that there is a letter dated on Nov. 7, 2006 from Richard Zutterman (a GE representative) to GE Customer Care Servicers stating that there is a defect in GE refrigerators made from 2005-2006 with defective motherboards and that consumers should be refunded if they previously paid for this repair to be made. There are TONS of models listed to be repaired at no cost to the consumer. My model is not listed as one of them but I know that it should be. How do we go about getting this information out and demanding that their defective pieces of garbage be fixed???

  27. Rose Shoppach says:

    We just had our GE model GSL25JFPDBS 5 YR OLD refrig keep icing over the freezer. Then the water quit working in the door, and the refrig seems to run alot. Repair man came today and wanted to replace the relay board for $430. We have not let him, but it cost $75 for a 10 min diagnosis. What to do next?

  28. bbum says:

    Rose — Rock to your left, hard place to the right. Keep in mind that you can get a brand new refrigerator/freezer for less than $500 — less than $300. It likely won’t be the best in the world or the most efficient, but — if the chain of comments are any indication — it is going to last longer and perform better than the GE refrigerators from the last few years!

    Heck — you could probably get a $300 refrigerator, pay $100+ for an extended multi-year no questions asked warranty, and end up with a refrigerator that’ll last longer than the GE, even if it does break down.

  29. Eileen McDoniels says:

    This is an update to my comment of 11/24/2008: I began writing GE in February 2009. My first letter went to Ray Graft, Customer Relations Manager, GE Appliances, Appliance Park, AP6, Room 129, Louisville, KY 40225, Thereafter Ms. Kelly Johnson (502-452-4205) from GE called responding to my letter to Ray Graft. She conveyed the following offers from GE to remedy the defective refrigerator I purchased on December 1, 2004: 1. GE would pay 50 percent toward a replacement refrigerator. I was told that a comparable model (GE no longer makes model GSS255QGPH B3) was model GSS25QGTBB, with an estimated retail price of $1449. I would be responsible for $749.89 which would include delivery, setup and taking my current refrigerator. 2. GE would pay for a service call and parts to repair my refrigerator; however, I would be responsible for the labor charges. (Note – I have had this same refrigerator “repaired” by GE numerous times in the past.) These offers were unacceptable for the following reasons: (1) I paid $1000 for my refrigerator and the offer at 50% was near to what I paid without GE’s involvement. If I were going to shell out $750, it wouldn’t be for another GE refrigerato based on history; (2) the labor charge is what ads up when you are dealing with GE.

    On April 21, 2009, I decided to write to the top man: Mr. Jeffrey R. Immelt, Executive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Member of Public Responsibilities Committee, General Electric Co., 3135 Easton Turnpike, Fairfield, Connecticut 06828-0001. Guess who responded to this letter – yep – Kelly Johnson. Ms. Johnson who proceeded to advise that she had my letter to Mr. Emmelt. “Her” offer remained the same: greatly reduced new refrigerator or waiver of service call/parts but I would be responsible for the labor and no warranty. I asked Ms. Johnson if Mr. Emmelt would be responding to my letter or if this was his response. Ms. Johnson indicated “Mr. Emmelt will not be calling you. I take care of correspondence coming to this office.”
    Kelly Johnson was extremely rude and unprofessional.

    Bottom line: We all got ripped off – GE is a horrible company, making defective appliances and does not stand for anything much less their appliances.

  30. T Moninger says:

    I purchased a GE model PSCS5R6XCFSS sn FS420443 side by side, refrigerator ($2000). The unit is 1.5 years old and decided to quit on Thanksgiving day. In the past week the repair folks have replaced both evaporation units (one in freezer and one in refrigeration compartment), new compressor (variable speed hi tec DC unit), the dryer, the diverter (pro-porting valve), and the mother board. And yes after 2 gents worked on it yesterday and one this morning, it is still not working.

    Let’s see: refrigerators are one of the items that have been around for more years than most any living individual, they are not rocket science (compress, evaporate, condense, and do it continuously). GE (either made or purchased) a complex design with a diverter valve that redirects freon on the pressure side to this diverter which sends the “right amount” of freon under pressure toward the evaporators where it “cools” under the watchful eye of mother (the mother board – perhaps social services can help here). Perhaps time to go back to a thermostat with switch to turn the compressor on and off with a timer to defrost regularly and work for years and years without interruption.

    I am certain there are several financial folks at GE thinking they can cut costs, put a product together (I did not say it will work very long) and tell the world how green they are and what a great machine they have and we can own. No doubt a few of the financial folks probably think a refrigerator can be made with a spreadsheet, or for sure, by a consultant with a spreadsheet who once was in the same town as an engineering school. Oh my.

    The purpose here is to say, do your homework well when purchasing any appliance item for an intended use. In this case a refer/freeze, with the intended us to keep food cool or frozen. Currently I have GE Stainless Steel floor model kitchen cabinet (in this case does not match the cherry cabinets) with a plug. I generally do not think Service Contracts are a good idea, but I am reconsidering.

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