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A note regarding Thelin customer service...

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by CMMartin, Feb 16, 2014.

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  1. CMMartin

    CMMartin New Member

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    Having found a wealth of good information here I decided to join and share my experience dealing with Thelin this last couple of weeks.

    I moved into a house that had a Thelin Parlor 3000. It has a manufacture code on it that indicates 2005 manufacture and has the newer control board.

    The stove had been maintained annually by the local Thelin dealer at a cost of $130-150 per year. During their service they replace the door gasket with several pieces of fiberglass (not one long piece that fit well) and the glass seal (it was only sealed on the left and right sides). The fan assembly had been re-installed with no gasket. It certainly was burning poorly.


    Early in the burn season (Oct) the burn pot overflowed and caught fire burning hot enough to destroy the wiring to the ignition. I was on the hunt for a replacement part starting in early November.

    I realized that I also needed to replace the burn pot.
    After the third cleaning in one season trying to increase the airflow I decided to try a new fan assemble.

    I called and talked to Barney at Thelin. She took my serial number and gave me a list of parts and told me to call a dealer to arrange the sale. Well ok...kinda a bummer but... I placed the order at just under $700 for a fan/burn pot holder/ss igniter, using the provided part numbers.

    I received an invoice from the stove company that made sense and listed an appropriate description of each part with the part number. Thelin asked me to provide serial number and date from my stove, before they would ship, to ensure that they would ship the correct parts. In about a week I received the package from Thelin.

    The fan was correct with gasket. It is much quieter now and it no longer sounds like there is an angry squirrel in the stove.

    Neither of the other parts were correct: I received a burn pot which shared part numbers with the igniter ordered...and a burn pot holder for another line of stoves.

    My first call was to Thelin to inquire about how this happened? Tried to reach Barney; got hung up on before I could say a word. Call 2 to Thelin I talked to someone else (similar position to Barney), for some reason this call also got disconnected just as we were making progress. Call 3 I asked to talk to a manager...got disconnected as the call was transferred. Call 4 Got a service manager named Jeff on the line. This is when the experience went down hill FAST. He is very rude and condescending. He scoffed at the idea of me fixing this stove. QUOTE "when you car breaks down you take it to a dealer to get repaired...same with a Thelin you take it to a dealer" He questioned how I could determine that the parts I was ordering even needed replacing. (lets see fan does not move...has new brushes...humm....hole in the burn pot holder....humm...wires burnt through on the igniter....Seem easy to me)
    I made it about 20 minutes before I could take no more. I am done with supporting this company and will do everything I can to help prevent anyone from buying one of their products. When friends ask me about this stove I am very honest and direct.

    I must commend anyone that has to share space with Jeff, I am amazed that you can interact with a person like that daily and not snap.

    I am awaiting a RMA number to return the parts to Thelin.

    I plan on fabricating the fire pot holder. I will post plans as I build the parts so that you can also build your own. I expect to use about $25 in metal and an hour in the shop to fab one which is much cheaper than the $180 they charge for a metal box.

    Not sure about the igniter at this point. I might try to rewire the old one.

    On this long epic adventure I did receive the advice from a Thelin authorized service tech that I try burning the stove outside not attached to a flue pipe to see how it burns. followed by "once you have it outside, go get a different stove to put in its place". AWESOME

    Hope to help others avoid future headaches. Don't get a Thelin.

    Chris

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  2. Bioburner

    Bioburner Minister of Fire

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    I can see so many ways this can go into the ash can. Will see how Johns experience goes next week on the repair of his insert.
  3. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Minister of Fire

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    Was the Thelin tech working independently or through the dealer? Sounds like sage advice...
  4. wsar10

    wsar10 Member

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    I personally would be looking for a used more reliable stove, If I had to spend $700 on it. I've read all over this forum that theese stove go through motors and are hard to find parts for.
  5. CaptSpiff

    CaptSpiff Member

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    Chris,
    Please do not limit your description of your experience to this forum. Every Corporate Officer of a struggling/failing company wishes for specifics on "what went wrong" in the customer experience. You have the details, and you need to get these to the people in charge.

    While Thelin may have lost you as a customer, there will be 200-500 similar customer interactions with Thelin over the next 12 months. You may help them.

    A bit pollyannaish perhaps, but maybe some good will come of it (info from BBB of California):

    Mr. Tim Rice, President
    Thelin Hearth Products
    4244 S. Market Court Suite A
    Sacramento, CA 95834

    Now on your specifics, it sounds like a parts mix-up that's resolvable. They sent the original parts in one week, all be it the wrong parts. Did you contact the local dealer who handled the original order?
  6. CMMartin

    CMMartin New Member

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    Yea I am going to send back the parts... the frustration came from multiple conversations with Thelin to prevent the wrong parts from being sent in the first place. Second the price of the parts is way high for what you actually receive. Third is the time it took to get the parts and the communication with multiple dealers to get the parts ordered. I will most likely get the parts I need just as the garlic breaks the ground and I no longer need the stove.

    When I asked if Jeff (manager @Thelin) if he would like me to email a copy of the invoice to determine where the miss-communication happened he had no interest in fixing it or helping to make sure it does not happen again in the future.

    The stove is look nice...that is about all.
  7. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Minister of Fire

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    Write the owner with your specific complaints especially regarding the lack of assistance Jeff was able or willing to provide... at the same time praise up Barney!
  8. stillersnut

    stillersnut Member

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    Owned a Thelin Gnome for 10 yrs, used to deal with Jay Thelin directly when I called, he even sent me parts free of charge. When he sold the Co. I tried to deal with them & got hung up on 3 times....I sold my stove on Craig's List & purchased a Englander PAH. Will never own a Thelin again, or recommend any of their products!!! If Jay only knew how bad they've shamed his name & hard work.
    webbie likes this.
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, it seems (from many reports, not just this) that it was one of those companies that had "love" as it's main reason for existence. Many of us who met Jay over the years saw a guy who was really into it from an engineering point of view. He spent many decades doing it and then, I guess, moved on.

    From a technical point of view, it's hard to get anyone to fill his shoes. But, on the other hand, it's not hard to try to help people.

    We don't want this forum used as a complaint board, but in this case it's not about a dealer or an installer or single stove - I've had inside knowledge of the same type of problems with the "new" company. Sad to say, I don't think the letter writing and griping is going to help.
  10. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Minister of Fire

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  11. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    He's quite famous in some circles and ties in with a lot of the old hippies we knew from The Farm! But that was before the stoves!

    "Thelin: Profit eventually became god in the Haight and that was too bad. Don’t get me wrong: I have always loved business and I didn’t ever NOT want to be successful in business. But I am comfortable now, and we don’t live extravagantly. You never lose your anti-establishment edge. The pellet stoves I created are clean burning and non-polluting. They run on a fuel product gotten from waste, stuff they take to the landfill. Any organic material can be pelletized and used for fuel. You see, my life and my business are all the outcome of the hippie philosophy. These businesses and my lifestyle, my spirituality – all these are the fruit of those days in the Haight."

    Ah, the hippie creed.
  12. John Fortier

    John Fortier Feeling the Heat

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    Very interesting to say the least.
  13. rick31797

    rick31797 Member

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    I also have a Parlour 3000, its a older model then yours 2002, at the moment i have posted another thread about getting help repairing the control board, i refuse to pay the close to 600.00 for a replacement board.

    I phoned thelin twice.The first call i got a Lady( more like a witch), very rude,she did give me a part number, but was not much help, and i was glad to end the call.

    The second call i ask for a Tech, and got Matt. Matt was help-full and at the time i was trying to diagnose the problem and if there would be any-other item that would cause my issue..Of course he suggested buying sensors and a switch which did nothing to correct the problem.

    The rest of our conversation was through Email. the problem with a newer board is they had changed, so the new board will not fit my stove.. with-out an adapter.. so 349.00 for the board 170.00 for an adapter and 13 percent taxes.

    I would ask Matt several questions in an email, and he would answer one question and disregard the rest.

    I ask Matt if he had an older board around he could send me direct.. No reply.. I ask him if he could send me a new board from the factory, at a factory price... no response..

    The last email i sent was about a lesson on Customer service..

    Customer service is usually the downfall of alot of companies and there satisfied customer base is there lively-hood........ Jay Thelin knew how to look after his customers, you can get a good since of how a company treats there customers, buy just doing a quick search and read the many forum results of people that have dealt with Thelin since Jay retire.

    I had a buyer send me an email the other day asking me about my thelin, and i told him exactly my experience with them, and his reply was, he would stay away from them..

    MY dealer can still order parts from them, but they dont sell the stoves since they had been bought out..There will never be another Jay Thelin, i guess he retired, Jay was the company and knew the stoves much better then anybody i have talked to there..
  14. Titanmatt

    Titanmatt New Member

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    Yeah let's not blame the Dealer in this case let's immediatly
  15. Titanmatt

    Titanmatt New Member

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    Hi everyone my name is Matt and I currently work for Thelin. I really think their is plenty of unwarranted criticism on this site about our company. Rick if I remember who you are, I am not sure if you were the one I talked to on the phone about rebuilding a Circuit Board or were you can go to fix it but I was pretty clear on how Thelin Hearth Products runs there business through Dealers. That was clearly not acceptable to you and I am sorry you feel that way but I would appreciate you know putting my name through the mud. When I look at this Forum I believe it should be about how everyone can help each other out and not bash companies. No one is perfect in any Industry. Jay Thelin is a great guy and I myself have learned a thing or two from him but he did sell the business in 2010 and things had to change otherwise there was gonna be no more Thelin.
    My background is 20 years in the Hearth business. 18 years Installing, Servicing and Selling for a Dealer. I came on about a little over a year ago with Thelin Hearth Products and was shocked at some of the things I saw go on at a daily basis whether it was Dealers trying to return unwarranted to Parts because that's what Jay did, we'll that is what almost closed the doors on this unique Stove line. It's is the Dealers responsibility to take care of the customer all the way through as they were the ones that sold and made money on the product. They were the ones that sold it serviced it and should know everything about the stove. Thelin has some bad Dealers left over from bad business decisions that I would like to get rid of but sometimes it's easier said then done.
    As I have explained to Rick I am not at your house I am not in front of your stove all I can do is try and give advise as to what the problem may be. Everyone is trying to save a buck I understand that but how is it fair to the good Dealers I have to sell direct to a consumer at a lower cost??
    We also have decided to sell some items Motors, Circuit Boards as Assemblies because of all the Headaches of people not ligning up.
    When Thelin Hearth Products bought Thelin Co they did some nice things like change the problematic Brushed Feed Motors for Brushless Feed Motors that has been great but we still struggle with the Brushed Fan Motors but again easier said then done. We like our stove simple and as a former Service guy I can appreciate that.
    The other issues I have out there again coming from my experience previous to Thelin is Installation issue. I will tell you a good percentage of these stoves are installed wrong not with there minimum guidelines totally ignored. Nothing will work right if it is not installed correctly I don't care what stove or fireplace you have. Our stove uses on motor for convection and combustion so It tends to work a little harder and needs adjustments.
    As far as John With the Providence insert. I tried to help early on with this on the site but did not get much luck. We were not made aware of this issue till late. We came in and decided that we were gonna send the entire Control Panel complete with all electronics on a stove from 2011 no questions asked and we were praised heavily on this site until it was not good enough. Once again as a former Dealer we would the last thing we would have done is got the manufacture involved until it was necessary. The Dealer should have Parts in stock to deal with any problems that arise on any stove they carry as well as the service trucks that should be stocked to deal with these problems. So it's easy to always blame someone else. Should we have maybe have sent the Control Panel sooner? Yes our bad on that but we felt it would get there sooner and John was able to use the stove still just without electronic ignition.

    We'll I said what I had to say.
    Matt.
  16. John Fortier

    John Fortier Feeling the Heat

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    Tech is here and hoping for the best.
  17. Titanmatt

    Titanmatt New Member

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  18. kinsmanstoves

    kinsmanstoves Minister of Fire

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    As a dealer for other brands I hope this all works out.

    One thing I have learned is there are stoves made well and stoves made not so well. With both types of stove they have to be installed correctly or they will not work correctly. The stove maker HAS to stand behind their product and their dealers. The dealers HAVE to be trained on the units and that HAS to be done from the stove maker. This is more than "buy ten stoves and you are now a dealer" type thinking from the stove maker. The dealer has to insure the stove is installed correctly and also cleaned properly and the stove maker has to make sure the dealer knows how to instruct their customers to do the cleaning. If this is not done the system will fall apart. If this is all done correctly this forum would not exist (Oh please don't go).

    Eric
    CaptSpiff likes this.
  19. Titanmatt

    Titanmatt New Member

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    Right on Eric so you and I are on the same page as I worked for a former Dealer we knew more about the Product at times then the manufacture or the Sales Rep. When you sell a line wouldn't you think the Dealer would get familiar with the Product they are selling? This is what trade shows regional shows and training is for. I have tried to give these Dealers training manuals etc to make them better. You should know how hard it is for people to learn our Hearth business. It's not as easy as it sounds.
  20. CMMartin

    CMMartin New Member

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    RMA received...they will take the incorrect parts back but the real bummer is that I have to eat the shipping again on the wrong parts. When I do get the correct parts ordered I will have to pay once again to have them shipped.

    The dealer that sold this particular Thelin stove is an unscrupulous person and has since shuttered his doors. He did not perform the maintenance correctly on the stove nor did he install the door/glass gaskets properly. It is good that he is out of business. That said there is no other local dealer to rely on or fall back to.

    I am still on the fence with what to do next. If I could have a burn pot holder in hand and had some assurance that it would be the correct one within the week I would do it. I have had a difficult time sourcing 309 SS in a sheet large enough to easily fab it myself, I guess that I could use a less heat tolerant alloy.

    Matt my aggravation with Thelin was greatly amplified after talking to Jeff. I had seen this as easily resolvable up until that point. I have not encountered that type of customer service nor had I been treated like that before.
  21. Titanmatt

    Titanmatt New Member

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    Ok Chris I believe you are talking about Jim not Jeff. We have no Jeff their. Furthermore you bought the Parts through the Dealer which means you then deal with that person Direct. As far as having the wrong Parts that honestly is a shame and I am not sure exactly how or why that happened. I generally will ask for photos of older parts to make sure they are correct as these stoves had changed so much over the years. I am not sure what happened in that regards.
  22. CMMartin

    CMMartin New Member

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    I will have to shut the stove down soon (it can only burn about 8 hours) and then I will send photos to Barney. The name I wrote down in my notes is Jeff, but I guess that could have been Jim. He said he was the service manager. A very disrespectful man whom should not be allowed to talk to customers on the phone.

    I was trying all along to avoid this situation of the wrong parts being sent. The RMA# was sent to the dealer this AM and he sent it to me with the instructions to ship the parts back to Barney @Thelin. I will get them packaged back in the original shipping materials and pay the $ to ship.

    Still on the fence about spending more money trying to get the correct parts...At this point I will be out at least $50 just in shipping.
  23. Titanmatt

    Titanmatt New Member

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    What stove do you have a Gnome or Parlour and what year is the stove? Photos of old Parts always help with these older models. I want to make sure you are getting the correct Parts. Also can you provide me with the Part numbers you received that we're wrong.
    Thank You
  24. John Fortier

    John Fortier Feeling the Heat

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    Board was put in and stove fired up as it should, all seems fine again. Titanmatt, Thanks for the parts needed. That being said I am very worried about making it through an entire heating season without a problem. My warranty expires in Oct. from there on I will have to put out of pocket. Now its just wait and see.
  25. Titanmatt

    Titanmatt New Member

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    John good to hear, let's get this stove working consistently. Be aware of your air adjustment on the left side. Try it about half way closed and see what works best, it's always good to make adjustments after the stove has been on for about 30 mins and then give it 15 or so to see how it is burning.
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