Blue Rhino/UniFlame experience

Messages
11,459
Location
Illinois
In the fall of 2007 oilBabe and I purchase a UniFlame GBC730W grill from our local Wal*Mart. This weekend, when cleaning the grill, I noticed that the burner had rusted out in the center. I've owned grills before and they are usually a decade in age before any sort of major failure occurs. This grill is kept outside, but covered and is cleaned after every use and a few times a year the burners are removed and cleaned based on the diagram in the manual that says when the burners need cleaning. So I wrote them on Sunday and their webpage says they will contact me in 3 business days. Today, day 4, after no contact, I call them, tell them my story, and it's just sorry the warranty is 12 months, etc. I ask if there is anything they can do, a discount, a customer sat adjustment. I even tell them I notice the new grills have a different burner design. Nope, not willing to help, nothing. Personally, I expect a product such as a grill to last longer than 18 months with proper care. So I'm asking my fellow BITOG'ers to first not buy any grills made or marketed by Blue Rhino, the parent company to UniFlame. Second, I know I'm not going to use the Blue Rhino exchange service any more. I've found my local equipment rental refills bottles AND gives a buy 3 get the 4th free. I wouldn't have even searched out alternatives had Blue Rhino worked with me and done something more than just say "Sorry" when it comes to my grill. Basically I got a polite brush off. The funny thing was, the woman told me that my grill should have lasted longer than 18 months, but couldn't send me a new burner, even at a discount. Sorry is worthless when a customer is unhappy. I would have liked a new burner for free. I would have been happy to have them split the cost or give me a voucher to help pay for one of the re-designed grills. Instead, nothing was offered by either the first or second level Customer Service Reps. The next level was out to lunch, but I was assured she too would give me the same answer. So for me and my household, we'll not use UniFlame and I'll be sure I share my experience with anyone who I might see considering such a product at my local Wal*Mart. ============================ Edit: They came through http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1464437#Post1464437
 
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javacontour

Thread starter
Messages
11,459
Location
Illinois
We had purchased at that price point before. Seems grills are much more cheaply made than 10 years ago. I feel bad because oilBabe bought it for me as a housewarming/wedding gift, and now it's turning to junk. So let this be a warning, UniFlame is junk and I can find no indication they care about customer service. They are polite, but a polite no help is still no help.
 
Messages
39,801
Location
Great Lakes
Those grills have the 12-month warranty for a reason. The manufacturer knows very well that they're not going to last much longer. That's why the grills with longer warranties cost quite a bit more - they're made of more durable materials to last longer. Then again, for the price of one grill with a 5-year warranty you could possibly buy 3 grills with a 12-month warranty and hope they'll last you 5 years in total, but it's just a nuisance and inconvenience.
 

javacontour

Thread starter
Messages
11,459
Location
Illinois
True that. I guess I've just been lucky with the two previous 12 month warranty grills that lasted a decade each, LOL
 
Messages
12,385
Location
Northern CA
I hate it when that happens. My first grill was an el cheapo with short burner life. They were just stamped sheet metal. By the time it rusted out in 4 years, they were out of business. I found a parts source online (sorry, don't have their name) and sheet metal, cast iron and stainless steel burners were available for a reasonable price. If you're lucky, you might find a parts source with a decent quality drop in burner. Before you fix it, think about whether it's the grill you want. I didn't keep mine long after I fixed it, I should have scrapped it instead of fixing it. If you like the grill except for the burner problem, fix it, otherwise consider a new one.
 

Bill in Utah

Staff member
Messages
12,849
Location
UT
Talk to the Manager of your local Wal-Mart. They will take care of you. Buying due to price is not a bad thing. I like keeping my $$ instead of throwing it away for something overpriced and when it fails (like a Weber I bought and some story as yours) but where I bought it told me to pound sand when I took it back 14 months later. Most of the companies have a run of this model made in Mexico, china or somewhere and there are no parts. (Like the Weber) Really, talk to Wal-Mart and see what they will do for you. I've had a few times they take something back for store credit. Take care, Bill
 

javacontour

Thread starter
Messages
11,459
Location
Illinois
I've found stainless burners for about $60-70 plus shipping. However, reading the reviews (shouldn't I have done that before) it's probably putting lipstick on a pig. I'll likely try to suffer through this year and then see about getting a really quality grill at the end of the season when stuff like this will be on closeout. I don't love this grill so much that I'm willing to put much money into it. But I love my wife and she gave it to me as a gift, so I feel a bit stuck with it, LOL (wait, stuck with the grill, stuck with the grill, I love being with oilBabe in case there was any confusion.)
 
Messages
25,045
Location
ON, Canada eh?
I have a Broil-King "cheaper-end" Barbecue I won from Tim-Hortons Roll up the rim contest and it's going on 4 years old and it works great. We BBQ all year round, as we have an open, sheltered area off the back of the house that allows us to. It's never covered up and it's fine... I priced the BBQ at $400 from a local retailer because I was interested in seeing how much it costs... The one we had before this was a Broil-King and was 20 years old. We left it at the old house because it was just too cumbersome to move and needed a new burner anyways... Go with Broil-King for you next one IMO. Steve
 
Messages
39,801
Location
Great Lakes
 Originally Posted By: javacontour
I guess I've just been lucky with the two previous 12 month warranty grills that lasted a decade each, LOL
Yeah. As you pointed out, cheap grills made today are not what they were 10 years ago. With the proliferation of WalMart and driving the prices down, the quality takes a hit, too.
 
Messages
12,385
Location
Northern CA
 Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
Then again, for the price of one grill with a 5-year warranty you could possibly buy 3 grills with a 12-month warranty and hope they'll last you 5 years in total, but it's just a nuisance and inconvenience.
Unless you know grills and really know what you want, starting with a cheap grill isn't a bad idea. Even if you buy a good one for a first one, odds are you will want something different as you gain experiance.
 

javacontour

Thread starter
Messages
11,459
Location
Illinois
 Originally Posted By: Bill in Utah
Talk to the Manager of your local Wal-Mart. They will take care of you. Buying due to price is not a bad thing. I like keeping my $$ instead of throwing it away for something overpriced and when it fails (like a Weber I bought and some story as yours) but where I bought it told me to pound sand when I took it back 14 months later. Most of the companies have a run of this model made in Mexico, china or somewhere and there are no parts. (Like the Weber) Really, talk to Wal-Mart and see what they will do for you. I've had a few times they take something back for store credit. Take care, Bill
I may try that. But frankly, I'm not sure I want to get another grill from there. I'd take a store credit as we buy enough groceries and motor oil there. I was just there today picking up pork steaks, chicken and other things for my step daughter's birthday party tonight. That's when I looked at the updated grills and noticed different burners.
 

Bill in Utah

Staff member
Messages
12,849
Location
UT
 Originally Posted By: XS650
 Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
Then again, for the price of one grill with a 5-year warranty you could possibly buy 3 grills with a 12-month warranty and hope they'll last you 5 years in total, but it's just a nuisance and inconvenience.
Unless you know grills and really know what you want, starting with a cheap grill isn't a bad idea. Even if you buy a good one for a first one, odds are you will want something different as you gain experiance.
+1 \:\!
 

javacontour

Thread starter
Messages
11,459
Location
Illinois
The thing is, while part of this is about the grill, the bigger part to me, being in the service business myself, is that they just didn't really care. Sure, the CSR said she was sorry. But I know that when I say sorry, it really doesn't fix my customer's computer. But if I say, sorry, let me get things going, let me look to see if this is a known issue, that we have a service bulletin on this, or I can charge you for labor only and the part is on us, we want to keep you as a customer. You see, for them, I suspect this is really about selling more tanks of gas out of the local store and other Blue Rhino exchange locations. I get that. But am I likely to use the exchange service anymore? Probably not. So for the cost of the $30-40 burner, they are going to give me the polite kiss off and say we're sorry, but we don't value your business enough to work something out with you regarding this issue. That's what burns my toast. Things break all the time. Designs are improved, things change. I expect that. I guess I just expected that they would actually work with me, comp me for something, rather than just the polite, "Sorry, there's nothing we can do other than sell you another burner that is just a cheap as the one that is failing now."
 
Messages
47,538
Location
Duvall WA - Pacific NW USA
Malarkey. Buying purely by price for grills is whacked. No need to spend $1000's, but the cheap [censored] is exactly that. Double malarkey - my igniter on my Webber went out after FOUR YEARS. I called Weber. They sent me TWO. NO CHARGE. Weber customer service is top notch, unless of course they went offshore in the last year or so.
 
Messages
39,801
Location
Great Lakes
 Originally Posted By: Pablo
Weber customer service is top notch, unless of course they went offshore in the last year or so.
Customer service is still in the US (Illinois, I think), but the manufacturing was moved to China.
 
Messages
567
Location
IL
I should call my golf buddy who works at Weber and check. My last grill was a Weber and so will be my next. Excellent CS. I just wish my 1995 Genesis' frame was holding up better. It's beginning to show rust bubbles.
 
Messages
25,045
Location
ON, Canada eh?
 Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
 Originally Posted By: Pablo
Weber customer service is top notch, unless of course they went offshore in the last year or so.
Customer service is still in the US (Illinois, I think), but the manufacturing was moved to China.
That's surprising... Why not have their call center in India? I mean why move one thing to an Asian continent and not another? Or is having them made in China but having their support in the US the way they keep their dirty little secret from most consumers?
 
Messages
39,806
Location
Pottstown, PA
Some of the higher end grill makers have been trumped by the offshore offerings. The mega all stainless steel grill I saw in WM (when I last looked a, season or two ago) was worth more in the fabrication and metal than they charged for it. There was no way you could get the "summer kitchen" that was sitting there for 4 or 5 times the price from a higher end grill manufacturer. I have no need for such elaborate workings. Maybe when we were semi-upper middle class in income in our mid 30's ..where the hot tub got good use and we entertained frequently. I bought a cheap storm door from THD. The latching mechanism went bad. They (the manufacturer) wanted $40+s&h for a "kit". That was more than the wholesale price of the whole door ..or so I figure. Same deal. Same deal ..expensive junque.
 
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