All Microwave Oven Manufacturers Complaint - Microwave Oven Door Latch Conspiracy

Review by microwavedoorlatchconspiracy on 2011-02-28
I am responding with empathy to the person before who stated a similar concern that I have. I am also interested in learning from others if this is becoming a universal complaint that spans multiple microwave oven products from multiple manufacturers. I have experienced in recent years at least three failures of door mechanisms in microwave ovens...each one from a different manufacturer. (At the outset: let me first adamantly explain that I do NOT slam the microwave oven doors, do NOT abuse them in any way, probably am more careful with them than the average person--especially given my experiences, and exert only sufficient pressure to shut them as the mechanisms require).

It seems to me these products are produced with the EXPECTATION THAT THEY WILL FAIL...with the outcome that the consumer must buy a new oven well before a reasonable lifetime of the appliance has been achieved. All of these ovens were operating normally until the door latches (two of them) and/or door opening mechanism (one of them)suddenly broke...rendering the appliance inoperable as it is necessary for the door to be closed before the oven will function. I live in a fairly remote area, and could not access a repair person to come to my home. I offered to take my microwave oven to a repair shop (located about one and a half hours away) only to learn that the waiting lists for service were weeks...if not months...long. The door latches and/or opening mechanisms were made of LIGHTWEIGHT PLASTIC!!!

Obviously this not a sufficiently durable material, especially given that this is the most significant moving part requiring human interaction in the entire appliance; and the functioning, durability, and longevity of the appliance is dependent upon them. I was consistently informed by service and customer relations people that to repair the items would result in minor costs for parts, but HUGE costs for servicing...which meant I "might be better off if I just bought a new microwave item". I'm now on my THIRD oven in two years...having had latch/opening mechanism failures in three previous ovens (one othere one failed more than three years ago). My questions:

(1.)Are other people experiencing this same problem and response/situation...especially with multiple manufacturers?

(2.) Is there a manufacturer out there who installs more durable--ie: metal--door latches and opening mechanisms?

(3.) Are there any manufacturers who actually "stand by" their products, and offer service or replacement if failures of defectively produced products occur....WITHOUT the big run-a-round, ridiculous expenses, and the final determination "better to buy a new one than repair it"? Are there any reputable consumer "watchdog" agencies that would welcome and investigate claims such as this, and advocate for manufacturer and regulatory reforms?

(4.) I have been an avid participant in reuse/recycle programs my entire life (having been raised by grandparents who survived the Great Depression and conserved every resource available...as well as having been a child of the age when "saving mother earth" seemed like a good idea) and find myself appalled that the modern answer to appliance maintenance and management is to toss them out and contribute to landfill and pollutant issues...not to mention the waste of resources, materials, time, and money. Is there no governmental/environmental agency that encourages reuse/repair of appliances rather than replace/dispose strategies?

(5.) I have been a victim of the current recession, have been unable to find work for an extended period of time, and have limited funds to spend uselessly on appliances that SHOULD have a reasonable lifetime before they need to be replaced....if anyone would like to put me to work on assisting with consumer advocacy matters, I am available, motivated, and capable...heck, I'd even train to be one of those repair/service people if manufacturers decide to produce a product worth maintaining and salvaging!!
Comments:25 Replies - Latest reply on 2013-08-19
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-02-28:
I have a built in GE micro. No problems with the door latch whatsoever...it's about 7-8 years old. Good luck in your endeavor though!
Posted by T on 2011-02-28:
I have a built-in GE that is 16 years old. The latch is sturdy and works flawlessly.

I remember the two tabletop units we owned that postdated these had less substantial latching mechanisms, but they never failed. I'm not certain about a "latch conspiracy". The 1980 Litton Microwave had a latch befitting a safety deposit box, but time marches on.
Posted by momsey on 2011-02-28:
Good luck. We bought a cheapo microwave from Target probably two years ago. It does what it's supposed to do, and the door is still working fine (knocking on wood.)
Posted by azRider on 2011-02-28:
I got a Kenmore microwave/range hood. had it 3 years. no issue. before that had a no name microwave from Wal-Mart for 6 years, never had an issue with the latch. maybe its a user issue..
Posted by Ytropious on 2011-02-28:
We have a Kennmore microwave that is 17 years old. It works great! It's got a push button door mechanism. I have no complaints about it except it's a sasquatch. I can't complain though because it was given to us free by my FIL.
Posted by microwavedoorlatchconspiracy on 2011-02-28:
Wow...thanks everyone! I am new to this site, and am very impressed to get such fast and pertinent responses. I agree that it seemed like the older microwave ovens had sturdier latches...I remember seeing metal latches on the 1980's and 1990's microwave ovens that I owned (and they did fail for other reasons eventually, not due to door/latch issues... but I was OK with the length of time they had operated...and I do agree that, like with so many things, "they just don't make 'em like they used to"). Now, because of the plastic parts and recent experiences, I've been buying cheaper items...probably that is part of the problem...cheaper items likely mean cheaper parts/less durability. Still...I think manufacturers could do better than install lightweight plastic parts on the doors. I've noticed that "built-in" microwave ovens do tend to be more expensive, and suspect they may have more quality materials/design...most of the responders so far have indicated they have "built-in" products. And, just a reminder, I am not the sort to slam the doors and use only the amount of pressure required to close them...especially given my experiences. I also find it interesting that the appliance servicing people are familiar with this lament, and all seem to have the same "canned" response: "you're better off to buy a new one than to repair it". Thanks, everyone for the responses...it will be interesting to see if more input will be forth-coming.
Posted by D. on 2011-02-28:
I haven't had trouble with the doors latches, but I would LOVE to be able to close the door without that loud noise it makes. It sounds as if I'm slamming it shut when in fact, I gently control the closing with my fingertips, trying to avoid the loud sound...but it doesn't matter how gently you close it, it still sounds like it is being slammed. It drives me nuts.
Posted by D. on 2011-02-28:
Oh...and welcome to M3C...Pull up a chair and stay awhile!
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-02-28:
I don't think this is necessarily a conspiracy...other than manufacturer design: cheap parts = doesn't last as long as older models =consumer buys more at ever increasing prices = manufacturers make more money.
Posted by microwavedoorlatchconspiracy on 2011-02-28:
Thanks for the reply and the "welcome", DebtorBasher. I'm glad I stumbled on this site...seems to have a wealth of information and resources. I've been "surfing" a bit for similar complaints on the web...seems there's a lot of people out there experiencing similar issues, just no unified approach, so complaints are scattered and therefore the larger impact of customer dissatisfaction is diluted. Thanks also to you, "just cause": I agree totally, and I guess that's probably part of why I'm "steamed" about this...perhaps I'm living in the past, and trying to make sense of the world based on character traits passed down to me by people who grew up in the 1920's (when people really cared about the quality of their work, making an honest dollar, and had a sense of responsibility and appreciation for their fellow man...er, and/or woman :) It bugs me that quality is not "first" in manufacturing anymore, and while many employees will just "skate by" on doing minimally adequate work...others of us that care about attention to detail and workmanship are out of work. That's just the way it is...I'll probably just keep saying "it ain't right" just the same. Nostalgia sometimes brings good lessons as well as wishful thinking. Never hurts to dream a little, though...and right now I'm dreaming of an inexpensive microwave oven with metal door parts...and, yup, those doors should not wake up the entire household and get the dog barking when you heat up a cup of cocoa in the middle of the night!
Posted by madconsumer on 2011-02-28:
all electronics these days are made to fail at some point. they are no longer made to last like 30 years ago products. the doors are now all made with a self releasing latch. not like the old days when one had to push a lever to open them.

first thing I would ask, at what level of craftsmanship were these ovens? the lower the quality, the lower the lasting expectations. you pay for what you get in quality.
Posted by Venice09 on 2011-03-01:
This is an excellent review, and I am on your side one hundred percent (especially with #3 and #4). This is what's called planned obsolescence, and it takes a toll on the consumer's wallet and on the environment, as well.

If you stick around, you'll see that there are lots of complaints just like yours on this site. You're not alone.
Posted by microwavedoorlatchconspiracy on 2011-03-27:
Thanks for the compliment and support, Venice09. Thanks for the useful terminology as well...."Planned Obsolescence"....that's EXACTLY what this is about!!! I now have a new microwave oven sitting on my kitchen counter...a "cheapie", and I really couldn't afford even that right now. And guess what??? That's right....PLASTIC door latches....AGAIN!!! From what I can gather, the more expensive microwave ovens typically have metal door mechanisms...so they tend to be a lot sturdier (and with better warranties as well). So those of us that can't afford "top of the line" appliances will have a quicker demise of our microwave ovens, and need to replace them again as soon as the plastic door latches fail. Now that I've gathered a little more info, I am considering going to a consumer agency of some sort, or perhaps the State Legislature for advice. I believe that since the door latches are integral to the functioning of the entire oven, there should be some sort of regulation requiring more secure and durable parts....afterall, metal door latches can't be all that much more expensive. It would seem the consumers are getting fleeced on these low-end models. I am not generally in favor of more government regulation...but perhaps the time has come. If anyone knows of any good resources to utilize in pursuing this forward...please let me know. Thanks!
Posted by Venice09 on 2011-03-28:
I love your enthusiasm, micro. This is something that has bothered me for years, but I don't know if there is any way to fight it. I'm a believer in fighting City Hall and winning, but I'm afraid that going up against the appliance industry may be a lost battle.

I'm still on your side though!
Posted by microwavedoorlatchconspiracy on 2011-03-29:
Thanks for replying, Venice09. There's a quote I have always loved since the first time I heard it years ago..."You can't beat City Hall, but you can drive by and egg it!"--(John Wagner). If "Planned Obsolescence" is as rampant with microwave door latches as I believe it to be...it shouldn't be all that difficult to get the word out, generate some interest from consumers, and start gathering some data. As I've mentioned...I'm new to this forum...but I do check back from time to time, hoping maybe this idea will "take hold". I am also interested to learn from others about consumer advocate agencies that may be able to help and/or advise. I'm already thinking that some gains on this fairly simple "planned obsolescence" issue might also lay the groundwork for addressing other similar issues with other appliances. Perhaps there is already a legal precedent out there somewhere that could be expanded upon to develop this issue, or perhaps a possibility of some eventual class action proposals. I am absoulutely NOT convinced the designers and manufacturers of these ovens are not aware of the seemingly intentional planned failure of these latches...to use plastic instead of metal is so ludicrous that it HAS to be intentional...especially if you consider that use of a similar metal part in construction (instead of the plastic parts) would result in negligible manufacturing expense. BTW...This isn't the first time I have "fought City Hall". Just a few examples: I bought my first car "brand new" in 1977...I was a kid in college, and you could still buy a car for what you could make on a summer job. Even then we already were hearing how airbags could save lives. I was stunned and angered that airbags were not even an option on my new car...and I was willing to special-order them and pay extra to get them. The salesman said "that will never happen...people don't want to pay for them". Guess what? Now we've got airbags in cars...it took awhile...and the car manufacturers "kicked and screamed" until consumer pressure, mortality data, and a lawsuit here and there made it happen...but we got 'em. I was also an early proponant for DUI legislation and legal consequences AND enforcement. Was also an early proponant for public smoking regulation. Led petition and postcard drives in the "Save the Whale" movement. I made a citizen's arrest once on a guy that was driving to endanger...I reported him to the local police station, and testified in court at the request of the D. A. (while local, state, and sheriff dept. police officers in the courtroom smirked and chuckled as I took the stand)...I nailed the guy with my testimony, and didn't fall for any tricks on cross questioning either...apparently this guy was a "habitual offender" behind the wheel...he lost his license with my testimony...and the officers who were laughing earlier lined up outside the courtroom when I left to shake my hand. I have been, and am now, a "whistleblower" on the job...a tough way to go with lots of difficult consequences (and as it happens...some pretty rigorous lifestyle issues)...but you got to do what you got to do, and it is "hard wired" into me to do the RIGHT thing...and to keep at it until you finally hammer your point across...no matter HOW tough the going gets...my cases are STILL moving forward...and a lot of fellow employees who didn't dare speak up and face the "Big Guys and the Bullies" are following along with great interest. I won't be letting this "Planned Obsolescence" thing drop either until I've turned every stone and looked under all of them. Might take me a while...but I've got a lifetime of "David and Goliath" type experiences to boost my confidence. This "Planned Obsolescence" stuff has GOT TO GO. Period. (BTW: Does anyone know what ever became of Ralph Nader???) One last thing, Venice09: You've been on this site apparently for some time now...maybe you know a few of the "movers and shakers" amongst us and could encourage them to hop on board this bandwagon that is going to start rolling...it's better to egg City Hall if you've got a car full of folks hurling the eggs. :-)
Posted by microwavedoorlatchconspiracy on 2011-04-01:
Newbie here...not hearing much back on my pet project...but I did stop by the "community page"...lots of folks there cracking jokes, swapping cocktail recipes, commenting that "good men are hard to find" and such...I'm glad folks are enjoying the site...and the banter is nice and friendly...but I could use some ideas from you more experienced M3C folks in regard to progression from here. Hate to interrupt the party...but there's work to do! If anyone would like to respond to my last couple of posts on "microwavedoorlatchconspiracy" I would appreciate it. BTW...I think I need to re-think that "name" thing...I didn't realize when I signed on that would become my "handle". Guess it will stick for a while tho. And for my "TWO cents worth": I AGREE, a good man IS hard to find....." :-)
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-04-01:
Steel microwaves -

Posted by microwavedoorlatchconspiracy on 2011-04-01:
Thanks! Nice to hear from you, ript. Are those companies that use metal door latches? And would you know about if that is for all of their microwave ovens, or just "top of the line" models? Worth looking into...could even ask them about rationale for choice of plastic vs. metal latch parts...might be good background info. Any tips regarding my plan to address this issue of "planned obsolescence"...both on this particular topic and the "bigger picture"?
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-04-01:
I don't know, check out the link. Here's one for do-it-yourself microwave fixits -

Posted by microwavedoorlatchconspiracy on 2011-04-01:
Hi again, ript. I think we are lacking your first post already...I think you mentioned Avanti and Whirlpool have metal latches? I checked out the URL you sent...Lots of "steel" microwaves, but I think they are mostly talking about the appearance/design. I'd have to investigate each one individually and find out if the door latches are actually metal as well...but I WILL get around to that. BTW...note the picture of the microwave oven on the top row of pictures...far right. The picture shows the door open, and guess what? Sure thing! Plastic latches. More of the "early demise" stuff. This "planned obsolescence" thing is rampant...hence my concern and the charge I'm gearing up to lead!
Posted by microwavedoorlatchconspiracy on 2011-04-01:
Thanks again, ript. The problem with repairs is (as in my previous/initial posts)...the repairs are too specific and technical for the average person (even if you had the right tools), self repairs with microwave ovens could be hazzardous, you would void any warranttees that you had, and when you contact a repair shop...they either say they can't get the parts, if they got more parts they would still be plastic (and tend to fail), AND most say it costs less to replace the oven than repair it...hence the need to replace the oven/spend more money etc. My intent is to address the issue of the "planned obsolecense" trend formally and progressively. And I'm not just kidding around here...this trend in appliances being disposeable with early deaths has got to STOP! (for all the reasons also in my earlier posts)
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-04-01:
Wishing you better luck than Don Quixote had.
Posted by microwavedoorlatchconspiracy on 2011-04-01:
Ha! Thanks...but "tilting at windmills" has become rather a hobby of mine...and I usually end up winning...eventually...and sometimes once other folks "get on board" as well (can't say the battles aren't "hard won" tho). Check out my posts on this thread 3/27 and 3/29/11. I've had some success with "David and Goliath" issues before...enough at least to gain some confidence that perseverance is worthy pursuit. As I mentioned...when I drive by City Hall to egg it...I'd like to have a carload of people lobbing the eggs. LOL
Posted by Donna on 2011-12-04:
Our prior microwave was so old the plastic around the inside door began to crack and the door latch and microwave still worked so for safety concerns we stopped using the old microwave and got a new Microwave and the door latch on the newer microwave broke. I am one to take excellent care of my things and this should not occur and apparently is a very common problem with the newer manufactured Microwaves to the point some people online have resulted in trying to rig and fix the door latch defect themselves because the door latch on the more expensive microwave they purchased still broke
Posted by Mike Jordan on 2013-08-19:
The Emerson microwave I bought just had the same failure

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