Written by adam on Sep 21, 2007
TEC Buzz: Engineering Flaw Cause "Internet Uproar"
Filed Under: Editorial
I've been following a developing story this week, and only now have the official word from Char-Broil. Early this week, Derrick Riches, of bbq.about.com, reported on consumer's experience with a Char-Broil/TEC burner flashfiring in his face and subsequent go-rounds with Char-Broil and Lowe's. Char-Broil's customer service regarding this issue was apparently less than adequate. Read Steve's tale here.
Steve posts some pretty hardcore evidence to the quality, or lack thereof, on the construction of the TEC burner as well as some pretty bad customer service emails. After sifting through the numerous responses to the forum thread, I became disgusted as the conversation quickly turned into an flame ware and got out of control. Heck, Men in Aprons even got linked and screen captured.
But I am not one to play with fire, so I immediately went out to check the screws inside the TEC burner. Much to my delight, they were just fine. I've had the grill since March and it works like a dream. It's a bitch to clean, but damn does it grill a nice steak. So I breathed a sigh of relief.
As far as the message forum goes, I dismiss it as internet hype and trolling. With so many second rate grill manufacturers out there and recalls happening all the time, why did this tiny incident receive so much attention?
It's the power of the information age. Just as my original review of the grill is here on the internet to stay, so is Steve's post about his frustration is also here to stay. It is all a matter of publicity, something that Char-Broil caught onto, albeit a little too late, with this response:
Char-Broil has seen the messages posted on this and other forums regarding failing fasteners used in manufacturing of a limited number our TEC burners. We regret that a few TEC by Char-Broil Series owners have experienced burner performance issues. Char-Broil wants to assure all TEC Series customers that we will take care of their individual issues and assist them in replacing the complete infra red burner assembly in their grill. Char-Broil encourages TEC Series owners who have encountered a problem with the fasteners to call 1-888-430-7870 to receive a new TEC stainless steel burner assembly from Char-Broil. Our TEC Consumer Services line will be open 7 days a week from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM EST. One of our customer service agents will be happy to assist you and a warranty service kit will be shipped out at no charge via priority 2nd day air shipping. We stand behind the safety and performance of our products and make it a priority to respond to our consumer's needs and concerns.
Just as they know of the power of viral marketing on the internet and consumer-based marketing, they realized the power of bad internet buzz and copped to the proper course of action.
You really have to step back and look at the entire situation as a whole. We have one man's story of frustration posted for the world to see on an internet message board. He was good and kept records of his dealings with Char-Broil and Lowe's. But then the trolls jump on the bandwagon. Does this mean that the Char-Broil/TEC grills are total crap? Because of one man's story?
No. But the documentation shows some valid points. The evidence of the quality of the fasteners is pretty damning in my opinion. But the one thing that must be realized above all is the these are imperfect machines made by imperfect beings.
Mistakes happen. Engineers get cocky. Things break. But mistakes can be fixed and problems can be rectified.
As a consumer you have the right and ability to make your own decision. Check your facts and consider your sources before jumping on the hate bandwagon. For every product out there on the market, at least one person is going to have a problem with it. From SUV's to blenders, no one's experiences are the exact same.
But please don't get me wrong. If a company is not paying attention to its customers, then actions must be taken to get their attention. Guys like Steve and even the commenter Frank on my review did just the right thing.