Saturday, December 1, 2007

Consumer Alert: Do not buy the GE Halogen toaster oven


By David Gewirtz

This isn't a vacuum cleaner, but it sucks. This isn't a fan, but it blows. This isn't a dog, but it bites. Wow! Who knew General Electric could make something so sucktacular?

"This is dangerous enough that we have to recommend the device be recalled from the market."

I'm talking about the GE Halogen toaster oven. This thing is firing ass on all cylinders. It's dangerous, it's annoying to operate, and it works poorly. It's also the most expensive toaster oven Wal-Mart sells and you should not buy it.

In fact, if you're thinking about buying it, don't. If you've already bought it, return it. If you're working for GE, recall it.

So what's wrong with this $79.95 toaster oven? It's got three strikes against it.

Strike one: burning hazard

First, it's dangerous. Very dangerous. The first time I opened it, I burned my knuckles. Now, I've got a guy-sized hand, but even so, first degree burns are never fun. As you can see in Figure A, there's a relatively small finger space between the handle and the stainless steel panel of the oven door.


You can burn yourself badly on the exposed steel. (click for larger image)

That stainless steel panel gets very hot. Very, very hot. The side arms on the door also get very, very hot. Unless you're careful, you can get badly burned simply by attempting to open the oven door. You can see how small the gap is for your knuckles even better in Figure B.


My big hands meant an instant first-degree burn on first use. (click for larger image)

In my case, it hurt. But if a little kid, with sensitive skin were to reach in to open the door, the stainless steel panel could sear onto her little hand, and rip skin off. Not something you'd want to happen first thing in the morning.

I never expected a hazard like this to reach the market, especially in a GE device. This is dangerous enough that we have to recommend the device be recalled from the market. This is a major lawsuit waiting to happen and given both GE's and Wal-Mart's oh-so-deep pockets, they'd be advised to take this product off the market. If the coffee lady could be awarded $2.9M for McDonald's coffee, imagine how much GE and Wal-Mart would have to shell out for a product that seared off a kid's hand.

Strike two: bad interface

Some of you might think I'm a bit too whiney about being burned. "Suck it up. Take it like a man. What's wrong with a little burn if your toaster has a digital display?"