Frustrated with Wolf Appliances

Kathy HarringtonAugust 19, 2014

We are building a home and it's getting close to having to finally decide on appliances. I currently live in one area of the country and am building in another region.

I am frustrated with the lack of knowledge and forthrightness of the regional dealers, as well as the differences in attitude when speaking with them.

I went into our regional showroom for Wolf (Houston) and spoke with someone about, 1. Chipping and 2. the new M series Ovens with a removable bottom.
Interesting enough, he hadn't heard about any chipping and could say in his region, there had been no cases of chipping. He also said that while the date for the M series ovens continues to be December, he fully expects that to be late January or February and in all the meetings he had been in no one mentioned the removable bottom.
I insisted that he call and get more information and get back to me. To his credit, he did call promptly, and found out while there has been some chipping, Wolf attributes it to scrubbing and that they have seen it less lately. They also stated that they are considering a removable bottom and will most likely become a feature on the M series Oven, something that he was unaware of and was glad I bought it to his attention.

I also asked him about his builder program and he explained it in detail and was very nice, but also explained that each region had it's own policies.

So I then called the Denver Regional Showroom to speak about a factory certified Installer as the closest one is 2 hours away and then also asked to speak to someone about their builder program. The person with the warranty information told me that even if a factory certified installer installs the appliance, it may still not be covered for the 3 years unless they actually agree to certify it, based on whether all the electricity and water supply is correct in the house. DUHH!!! Can't imagine that someone would install an expensive appliance without the underlying electricity being ok and that Wolf would allow it.

The saleswomen that dealt with the builder incentive program was pleasant enough without giving me any information other than I would have to contact the retailer. Why so secretive and unhelpful????!!!

So here are my problems: 1. It appears that chipping has been a real problem, especially for folks in the Pacific NW, why has there not been a company wide announcement about this problem alerting all employees to keep their eyes open for this sort of problem? If there has been, the people in Houston missed that memo

2. Why the differences in policies between regions and the lack of transparency in some of them?

3. If they really are exploring adding a removable bottom to the M series Oven and in all likelihood going to be a feature available in December, why wouldn't your regional showrooms know about that

So, am I being too picky? Has anyone in the Denver area experienced chipping? Anyone been denied a certified install? Should I still consider Wolf?

Also,FWI, just checked with American Express. If you purchase the appliances with American Express they will extend the 3 year warranty (If you use an certified installer and they certify it) to 4 years.

Thanks for reading this long post

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The salespeople NEVER know about the chipping. They would not be who I'd talk to for more information on it. Rather I'd talk to people who have had the misfortunate experience of having their oven chip and there are plenty of those people on this forum. A quick search will uncover many of threads. Pay special attention to the experience of "wekick" whose range they refused to replace or fix this known issue for a reasonable price. And to answer your question, no I would never buy a Wolf wall oven unless the issue is CONFIRMED resolved. Wolf has sold these defective ovens for years and years without making any attempt to remedy the problem. And when they come out with a new series like this, you'd think that would be the perfect time to try and remedy the issue but no. They're "considering" adding a feature which MAY OR MAY NOT help with the problem. Not exactly confidence inducing.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 1:31PM
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I totally get your frustration! I'd be frustrated too. Part of the problem isn't Wolf so much as the sales game. I've had similar problems buying a car--and none of the trying to accomodate. The car guys just lie and lie and don't know what they're talking about. I finally bought from the one who also didn't know as much as I did about the product, but didn't lie about it.

I only have one Wolf appliance, but had a great response from the company when the problem was my electrician thinking he knew better than the instructions. They were nice as could be and did a thorough check before they told me it wasn't their fault, and where the electrician went wrong (yes, the itty bitty cooktop needs its own circuit--and I had plenty of room on the panel and in the service).

Part of the issue with info about the builder's program is that they're really designed to deal with the trade. If you went into the showroom with your builder or contractor, they might be more forthcoming than speaking over the phone to they know not whom. You could easily be lying about who you are and pumping them for details they like to keep close to the vest.

Different policies between regions might have to do with local laws, or just be an artifact of each growing separately and developing its own policies. Think Federal vs. State rule. :) Frustrating, yes, but it's also why it's a good idea to brush up on local laws when you travel or move. :)

Re knowledge about the chipping, it may be that Wolf themselves don't really know what went wrong. The "scrubbing" thing doesn't sound right, and if the enamel is that easily scratched and shattered there's something wrong with it anyway. That sounds more like a game of telephone where someone said "scratching" (which could be a reason for shattering) and someone down the line changed it to "scrubbing". It's interesting that you've heard it's a PNW thing. Perhaps that means that there was a run that went to the PNW that had a fault? Or perhaps it's just that more people from the PNW are talking about it?

The thing about whether or not there will be a removable bottom in the new model is also understandable. They may not have that firmly nailed down--or loose, in this case. :) It could be in the final testing phase and they're not ready to commit before they're sure it's going to be like that in production.

You're not being too picky. Your frustration is understandable. It's very difficult building from out of state without trying to lock down your appliance choices and having them ooze around instead of staying locked. These are really good appliances. It could be worth taking a deep breath and putting it off until you can be in Denver and talk to the people directly. And perhaps your build will be far enough along to have your services inspected and certified. You might need to show a surge protection system that handles lightning issues (which you probably need anyway).

You might also look at Miele and Gaggenau if you don't mind German. Electrolux (Swedish) is a bit less expensive and also has some fans here. Most of us choose individual appliances rather than a suite. Many places have contractors' discounts that apply to your whole purchase rather than being brand specific. If you stick with Wolf, however, I think it'll all work out in the end.

If you can find an up and comer at the appliance showroom in Denver who will advocate for you and run down answers to all your questions, that'll help too. I bought from a place that's within a half hour drive of me, so was able to visit often, but I did that. We had many calls and e-mails, and when I was having issues getting the accessories I wanted, she got a rep to come in and track them down for me. Sometimes that's all it takes--someone good watching out for you on the other end of the line.

Best of luck.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 1:33PM
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I'm a DIY engineer. Fortunately for us, I am able, and installed all our appliances myself: Viking range, hood, Miele DW, and Viking Fridge.

I'm generally disgusted with most sales people: car salesmen, appliance salesmen, realtors. Most know nothing - add no value - I don't know why they are there.

Many times these 'certified installers / repair' - have installed so few of these highend appliances - that IMO you are just as well off finding a tradesperson who is intelligent and can read.

That's how I installed mine - just read the specs.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 3:49PM
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The best info is not at a dealer. It is at the showroom. Here is the link to the Wolf showroom in Houston. Make an appointment. Let them sell to you and answer all your questions.

But first, I would search on this forum for all the Wolf oven threads. People have ended up with pieces of the oven lining in their fingers. You may want to print them out. One poster loved her Wolf oven but after the third replacement and being told she didn't use the ovens "normally" that was it.

But then I would look at Miele, Gaggenau, Electrolux and compare.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wolf Showroom

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 6:48PM
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I am one of those Wolf oven owners in the PNW that is on oven #2. I am waiting for the "M" to come out in Dec. or whenever. I have totally given up on the E Series now that I have had 2 of them. The oven really works well if only the porcelain would stay put. If the M does not work out then I am on to another brand. I will keep everyone post on the outcome.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 8:51PM
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Kathy Harrington

Thanks for all the responses. You all make valid points and I have read most of the posts on the oven's chipping.

Also, I did speak with the manager at the Houston Showroom, not just a retailer. As well as speaking directly by phone to the Showroom in Denver. That's why it is so frustrating. The Regional showrooms should be aware and be transparent!

We are also building in a small town in Colorado, where as the Denver showroom put it, there are not enough people there to have a certified installer. So as far as getting Miele or Gaggenau, I checked and the support for these products are less than Wolf in our area.

Despite the statement by the Denver Showroom, I know plenty of people in the small town that have sub zero/Wolf products and they have been happy with their products

So, I'm either taking a chance with the M series or checking out Thermador where there is local support for.

Also, in my research, if you haven't already purchased a Wolf Oven, try and buy it with American Express, they will extend the 3 Year Warranty that covers everything for one additional year up to $10k an item. If I continue with Wolf, I will insist on purchasing the oven, if not all appliances with American Express

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 8:11AM
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harringk - Good luck with your choice of ovens. I used to live in Denver (Wash Park) and have been to Roth Distributors several times, mostly for fundraisers and cooking demos. They were very helpful in my choices. I just wish Wolf would do something about the frustrating porcelain issue. It has nothing to do with "scrubbing". I have a self cleaning oven so I don't "scrub" it. It has everything to do with the the expanding metal and the non-expanding porcelain when the oven heats up. I saw cracks develop after only a few uses.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 11:40AM
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Your plan sounds good.

One note: If there's Thermador support, I wouldn't be surprised if they do Gaggenau as well, being that they're sister companies. We don't see a lot of feedback about Thermador wall ovens, I think, because they're in the middle. If you'd be interested in Gaggenau, you might try talking to the Thermador service near your new home and see what they say. OTOH, if Wolf really has solved the enamel problem, it's otherwise a good oven...

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 1:52PM
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Kathy Harrington

Interesting about the metal expanding and porcelain not as causing the chipping. I thought it was only in the E series ovens, but it would be logical that it would happen with all of them if that was the case.

I'm going to do more thorough checking with the local appliance place to see if they sell and service Gaggenau.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 7:42PM
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Wish I had known about using an AMX card for additional 4th yr. I used a 'certified' wolf installer for the 3rd year warranty. I got him thru sales guy. Prior to coming in to install the stove, i sent installer photos of gas and electric hookup that would be behind range. It was wrong so the contractors had to come back and modify it to within specific height off the floor and so many inches from outside. The installer provided the specifics. Then once it was hooked up, etc, the installer and the sales guy provided wolf with their cert numbers, etc. to wolf. Day of install, DH went online to do stove registration and it wasn't in system. Once sales guy and installer submitted their info to wolf, we received acknowledgement of the additional yr warranty. Now that I think of it, installer did ask in general conversation about how high was hood going to be off the stove and other little 'chit chat' type stuff. No way did he go looking in basement at hookups.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 8:06PM
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Kathy Harrington

An update. The dilemma continues. So the certified installer that is 2 hours away that Wolf gave me his number, informed me that he wouldn't come that far. The place that sells Wolf locally apparently doesn't install. I did call Roth again in Denver and they wanted to give me a number for an installer in Colorado Springs which is over 6 hours away, but when I balked at the distance, offered to contact his local rep in my area to find out if anyone was installing and if they could get them signed up as certified Installers. I appreciate him taking the time to do this, but I'm not holding my breath.

I also just spoke with Sub Zero and asked if they would waive the requirement of certified installer for the additional year warranty and they wouldn't, but insisted the Colorado Springs installer could help me. I called him and he was very nice, but the cost of coming out and installing would be 1500-2000 because it would be an overnight.

Which means I can buy the appliances, have my builder install and take just a 3 year warranty if I can purchase with American Express or if they won't do that, then my warranty is just 2 years. This appears to be the road that most of my neighbors have chosen quite happily.

Of course the other option is to buy a different brand. Called Miele, and they said, "wow, we don't offer service to your area, and the closest service guy is 4 hours away and his charge for coming that distance would be $100 an hour. I would recommend you not buying our product"

Gaggenau, has only one supplier in Colorado, in the Denver area, but they do have a local repair guy which is great. If I buy 5 items, they have a 5 year warranty plus the American Express extra year for a total of 6 years. Plus to drop ship the appliances for my builder to install would only be around $250. But, and this is big but, it's a lot more expensive than even Wolf/Subzero, which is already expensive.

Sorry for the long whine, I'm going to take a closer look at Thermador and gaggenau.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 3:12PM
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I get the appeal of the long warranty, but it shouldn't be that necessary for an oven. The initial warranty, yes, but if you're going to be living there and actually using the oven, any problems that came during manufacture, travel and installation, should shake out in the two years. You're not likely to need any usage related work done during the warranty period, even if it's the longer one, unless you're using it all day every day (i.e., more than most people do).

Maybe it's time to do a spread sheet and see where all the variables fall?

Paying extra for a Gaggenau fridge, unless you really want the stainless steel interior, seems pointless. As far as I know, the dishwasher is Bosch with a Gaggenau badge. I wonder if you could talk them into a mix of Gaggenau and Thermador or Bosch?

I wouldn't spend a grand on 1-2 year's worth of warranty. The option of getting your local installer certified at not-your expense, sounds good. My original plan for my own kitchen was Gaggenau ovens and cooktops, SubZero coolers and KitchenAid dishwasher. I ended up with Gaggenau ovens, Monogram speed oven and warming drawer, Gaggenau and Wolf cooktops, Miele and Marvel coolers, and Monogram dishwasher (replacing Viking). The only warranty calls I've had in 4-5 years is for the Wolf gas, which the electrician messed up by not believing that it needed a dedicated circuit and my Miele freezer, which I had used Super chill on too much and froze the evaporator and fan. They sent someone, but defrosting had already fixed it. So I'm really careful now not to let Super run until its automatic shutoff. :)

I'm not saying you won't need warranty work. You might. But in some ways it might be pound foolish to focus so much on getting the best warranty. Try seeing if you can get a store discount for getting all your appliances together, or the contractor's discount, and get what you want.

This post was edited by plllog on Thu, Aug 21, 14 at 19:54

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 7:53PM
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Kathy Harrington

Wise message Pillog and exactly what I was thinking once I took a step away and let go of my frustration. I'm going to take a few days to process all the information and take a good look at what I really want. My decisions need to be made by September 1 approximately, so will let you all know my final outcome. Thanks again to everyone who weighed in on this!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 9:49AM
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