Help! Has Wolf abandoned me?

ginnys_2010September 15, 2010

Sorry, I'm brand new to this forum, but I've got a BIG problem! I absolutely love my Wolf! I bought my house in 1998 and if the Wolf wasn't part of the deal, then there was no deal (smile). Any-who, in 2003 I paid a certified service company to come out and rebuild the entire stove. The stove was originally built in 1986, and is built like a Sherman tank! To try and make a long story a little shorter (hopefully), my service Tech (last night) told me Wolf has abandoned me. Here is the email I sent to Wolf last night

I have a 4 burner w/grill range built in 1986 with an igniter module that has died. In 2003 I had the module replace by an authorized service company - module cost $123. I had the same service company come out now, but they have told me (1) you (Wolf) no longer support pre-2000 models, (2) you have no repair parts available, and (3) you cannot provide wiring specs for pre-2000 ranges...basically you have abandoned all pre-2000 residential stoves. I love my Wolf and would buy another, but need a little time to save the money to get one considering this is the end of the year when all the expenses come due (property taxes, etc.). However, finding out you have totally walked away from any form of support for your pre-2000 models causes me a great concern of even thinking about buying another Wolf. The Tech said he talked to you (Wolf) and you recommended a 3rd party for the part, he said he contacted them and was told they only sell retail (no discounts to authorized dealers or service companies) (module would be $312 plus shipping) with no guarantees that it would work and no returns. This alternative is playing Russian roulette - if the first module doesn't work, buy another module and keep your fingers crossed or buy a third, etc.

So my question is - is the Tech trying to rip-me-off or have you really abandoned all your pre-2000 stove owners and everything he has told me is the truth?

My question to this forum is - Has any one heard about this, and has Wolf abandoned their older stoves? HELP! Granted, nothing lasts forever and I have to be nearing the death of my stove. But heck (with the pre-2000 announcement from the Tech) I expect a stove to last more than 10 years! A 1986 stove isn't hi-tech (the reason I love it). According to the Tech, Wolf considers my stove more commercial than residential. My baby is a dream - you can literally pull every part out of it to clean (burners, vents, etc.), all edges are welded, it's all open burners, only electronics are the igniters - I'm gonna hate to give it a RIP. Plus 'cause of the electronic igniter death no oven. Call me an ol' fart, but gone are the days when you could stick a match in the oven to light it (sigh).

Plus the Tech told me there were lawsuits with LG and Wolf for creating monopolies on the part business for their stoves.

So am I being 'played' by the Tech (authorized or not - even though he is from an authorized service company), and has Wolf abandoned their pre-2000 customers? If this is true, then beware Wolf owners. I (personally) will be looking for a company that supports their product beyond 10 years on my next range. I don't care what their rating is on JD Edwards - a 10 yr obsolescence is not acceptable (based on the Tech's reported Wolf's 2000 cut-off date) - a 'stove/range' shouldn't be considered hi-tech (minus the electonics and bells-and whistles they are introducing now).

Please! - someone tell me this is a 'rip-off' by the Tech! I love my Wolf and it appears my only alternative stoves right now are BlueStar and Capital (sigh).I love open burners.

HELP!!!!! (Plus sorry for being so long winded on my first post (sigh)) I'm just so 'knocked out' by the info the Tech gave me last night, and need some help, info or suggestions right now.

Plus, THANKS! in advance for any info, advice or suggestions any of you can provide (and putting up with my long winded story). Currently I'm down $150 for the Tech to come out, look at the stove, and say 'Yup, your igniter module has died' (BIG sigh and DUH!) that's what I told you when I made the service call!).

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And you didn't wait for a reply from Wolf before posting because ..........................?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 7:48AM
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..........because she loves her Wolf and is hoping someone here might have some suggestions to offer. Isn't that what this forum is for?

If the tech is correct Wolf might just say 'sorry' we can't help or if she's lucky they'll offer her a possible solution. So while she's waiting she's exploring other options.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 8:23AM
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There is absolutely no need to panic, here. There are plenty of spark modules on the market. It may take some splicing but a good tech can put a new module in for you that should work fine. Most of the time, ignition modules are made by a few OEM suppliers, (robertshaw, white-rogers, etc.) not custom built by the range manufacturer. Take the model number of your Wolf range and then do a search for ignition modules with that number. You will probably find the part yourself. Also, always look on ebay. There is ALWAYS somebody on there selling some NOS parts for appliances on there. You might get lucky and find what you are looking for for really cheap.

Anyway, a good, resourceful, tech can get you back up and running fine.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 8:52AM
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Depending on where you live, local parts dealers and service companies often have replacement spark modules that will work with just about any range. If your current service person does not know how to install a generic spark module then I'd suggest looking for another service company or person. This should be relatively simple. Wolf ranges from the late 80s when they first entered the residential market are built more like commercial ranges. That means they are usually very simple to repair. Another warning sign is that your repair tech needs a wiring diagram. Wolf ranges from pre Sub Zero days are very simple. The spark module and ignitors are the only real electronic (if you can even call it that) so not sure why he'd need a manual or diagram.

So, short answer is Wolf probably has discontinued service on your range. I'm surprised it's all pre-2000. Maybe pre-1990 but not supporting a range that's only 10 years old seems unreasonable. Get a second opinion from another tech. Forget about finding an "authorized" repair center.
A good appliance repair person can/would/will find a replacement spark module and make it work. Period.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 10:42AM
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If you can, post the model number of your range and if you have the old spark module, the part/model number of that module.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 10:53AM
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Have you tried to contact the Wolf EQUIPMENT Company, the original, commercial range company that is still in existence and manufactured your range before they sold off the household range line to Sub-Zero? Check the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wolf Equipment

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 11:49AM
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Any tech who complains that it's the companies fault on why he can't do something is not a tech you need working on your product.
BUT... you have to realize that you can't expect OEM parts for a 1986 range. It's 24 years old. If this were a 24 year old limited edition car you would probably be more understanding if an alternator, etc is no longer available. Believe me because I'm working on a 1988 car and having a hard time finding some parts I need.

A good tech will have an understanding of what parts were similar to other manufactures parts and adapt one of those to your Wolf. A lot of parts are similar in this industry and can be reto fitted with minor alterations.
The one thing I would do is have you sign a letter releasing me or my techs from any liability due to OEM parts no longer being available.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 8:21PM
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First - Thank you EVERYONE! Laat2, Marie_cate is correct - I was looking for advice, and I've been following this gardenweb forum for weeks....This is the forum I knew owners, dealers and repair folks spoke up on and could provide me some sage advice. I got on the phone this AM to Wolf and here's what I found out:

1. Amcook was right on the mark! I called the 800 number on their website, and the call was quickly picked up. I related my horror story from last night. I was told their stoves are now made by the Wolf Residential division, and all pre-2000 stoves were made by another division (my guess the commercial side of the house). The Residential division does not provide parts or support to the pre-2000 stoves. BUT, the individual provided me the phone number to the other division (YIPPEE!)

2. The other division is a company(?) called ADCO. Waited a long time on the phone for someone to pick up - but it was worth it. Related my tale of woe again, and the person was a little shocked. Bottomline, Wolf can still provide parts and support for the older stoves. I didn't have the module or model numbers, but from my description of the stove he searched his computer and said the part (retail) would be $172.40 + shipping. He explained sometimes the repair company will jack the price of the parts to make them look like heros and Wolf look like the bad guy (sure sounds like my story). He then asked where I lived - searched his database for folks that had supply agreements with them and gave me the names of other repair companies to call.

I called one of the companies he recommended, and they are now scheduled to come out Fri. - I've got my fingers crossed! The other BIG surprise is the 'new' repair company's intial service call is half the price of the one that was here and gave me all the doom and gloom.

3. Wolf responded to my email this afternoon. I hate to make this another really long post, but for those interested here is their response (I'm omitting the sales pitch for the 'dream kitchen', and site rules may delete the company name and phone number):

I am so sorry for the confusion, but we would be happy to clarify this for you! Sub-Zero purchased Wolf Range in 1997, and Wolf Appliance, Inc. was formed. For the Wolf Range products that were manufactured prior to 1997, there is a coordinating agency responsible for residential service and parts requests. You can reach ADCO at (877)388-5226 for service and parts requests.

We do not have access to the specifications or parts for these ranges, or we would be happy to get this taken care of for you. We would recommend contacting ADCO to resolve this.

We do offer parts and support for all models after 1997, and are known for our excellent Customer Service.

What have I learned so far? Folks that run ads in the phone book saying they are certified Wolf repair companies - may not be. Folks that are looking for repairs on older stoves should call the 'old' division and get the name of the repair companies they regularly supply parts for in their area. Also, post a question on this thread and get some sage advice from the experts.

I'll post again on whether my problem gets resolved or if my Baby gets a RIP (sniff). But before I give her last-rites I'll tear her apart, get the part numbers and do a little DIY (smile). Like I said before she's built like a Lincoln log and can be pull apart easily.

So THANK YOU everyone who responded, and thank you Wolf for continuing to give me that 'warm fuzzy' that I'm not forgotten and abandoned.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 11:00PM
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Great results and your posting will a big help to all Wolf owners here in the future. It is a sad fact that most folks should be a little more proactive these days in putting aside high end gas stove delicate spare parts like ignitors and modules before they are needed in a hurry.

And also getting to know who provides good service before it's necessary.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 12:40AM
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Arm pumps - high fives - and dancing in circles! I'm renaming my Baby to Baby Bertha - 'the cooking monster' wonder it was love at first sight! Thank you ADCO for recommending the new service comapny...and thank you mojavean, amcook, baver and jakvis for all the advice and encouragement - you folks are true Angels...and ROCK!!!!

I now have a company with an experienced Tech! During his inspection we found all the specs located on the inside of a panel. My Baby has 4 17.5K BTU burners, a 12K BTU broiler with griddle on top, and a 29" 30K BTU oven, and she's from the ol' commercial line. The Tech is guessing she was built when Wolf first started using ignitors - just a weird configuration of components I won't bore everyone with. My Baby may not look like a shinny, new Porsche, but she's a vintage 'Rolls Royce' to me.

For those who may be considering buying a 'used' Wolf.....

The Tech told me that in the 'day' of my stove that folks custom ordered their stoves. The Factory was located in Compton, CA and you would tell them what configuration you wanted and they built it - aka a custom commercial stove. He said that is why Sub-Zero put the cut-off on support for pre-1997 models. There were just to many unique configurations for them to 'main-stream' support for. He said Wolf/ADCO still has all the specs for each of these stoves - it just takes a little longer to do the research when you need repairs like mine.

Any-who, he told me of a dream stove - as he said 'a thing of beauty' he recently checked out for a customer. A 60+ in stove a couple bought for their home remodel (in my same vintage - late 1980's) six burner, griddle/broiler, dual oven - purchase price $600. He said the stove was immaculate, and was purchased from a restaurant that just wanted to dump their equipment.

So folks that have/can find an experienced Tech' don't pass these old stoves up. They don't have infra-red, electronics, rotissaries, etc. - they are reliable, no frill, work horse stoves. Plus, you don't need 'self-cleaning' ovens with these old 'Beasts'... the 5 sides of the oven box slide out (no screws)...take them to the backyard...power hose them...slide them back in place ...and bingo 'clean' oven!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 1:59PM
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It should also be noted that Wolf (Calif.) was and still is a purveyor of commercial stoves and cooking equipment, they made a few models that were used in residences , but the primary business was commercial equipment and still is.

It's this small portion that SubZero bought to leverage the name and brand equity and put it into mass distribution. It was all a strategy to compete against rivals like Viking and Thermador.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 8:32PM
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Congrats, Ginny, glad all is buttoned up tight on your range. I am sure your experience will be helpful to others with older Wolf gear as things like ignitors and modules fail. I especially appreciate your filling us in on the outcome of your problems. Wishing you many years of enjoyment with your great old range.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 9:54PM
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Hi Ginny,
are you in the Philadelphia area ? If so, could you please share the name/details of the Wolf Tech ?


    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 3:54PM
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I have an old Wolf stove that needs repair - ignition, etc. I also love my stove - it was one of the first ones made for home use in the 1980's. I can't find anyone to work on it and certainly no authorized Wolf type of person. I live in California - can I get the name of who you found to come and fix yours?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 11:54PM
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She ended up, from what I can tell, working with ADCO. ADCO is not Wolf nor are they directly connected with them. ADCO is a service company that is used by many different companies for their warranty support. They provide parts and service for some brands and parts only for others. It was 3.5 years ago that Ginny posted this thread but it sounds like ADCO helped look up the part she needed and provided some names of local technicians to whom they routinely sent parts. Presumably they could do the same today for units that are long out of warranty.

Here is a link that might be useful: ADCO Service

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 9:33AM
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