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Vermont Castings Warranty Woes

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by petrusboots, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. petrusboots

    petrusboots New Member

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    I am new to this forum and have only found it because of some major trouble I have run into. What led me to this forum in the first place was that my wife was searching the web for warranty info on Vermont Castings. What she found was a thread on this forum which stated that existing warranties on Vermont Castings wood stoves would no longer be honoured by the new company which bought it after it went bankrupt.

    Here is a testament to this reality. Please forgive me for the length of this entry. But please read it, I would like to know if anyone has any ideas on what I could do.

    In September of 2007 I bought a non-catalytic large Dutchwest model number 2479. As far as installation and operation I have followed the instructions to the letter. I am kind of anal that way. Within three months of the purchase, the upper refractory began to crack. And my doubts about the stove which I had been proud to purchase began to fester. I informed my dealer. They said they would take care of it. Following a long wait and needing to clean the chimney, I finally had a look at the brick from the back and noticed it was a more serious problem, then I had initially thought. Basically, it directly effects the ever-burn system, the company professed to be the best in the business. I got on the dealers case about it and after some time a new refractory arrived. Following the instructions and not over tightening, I installed the new refractory and during the first small fire I burned, it began to crack. In exactly the same place. My wife actually heard it begin.

    My doubts were now not only beginning to fester, but keeping me up at night, listening to every little sound the stove made. The picture of the little girl sleeping peacefully on the pamphlet no longer gave me any comfort.

    This entry went past the allotted 6000 characters in this forum (total characters came to about 8000) if you wish to hear how the story continues (this was only the tip of the iceberg) please click on the link:
    http://www.petrusboots.com/dutchwest_link.htm

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  2. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Only two observations. One change that blasted font and background so that somebody can read it. I had to cut and paste it into Wordpad and change it to keep from getting a headache.

    Second. You have a defective stove with a lifetime warranty from a company that does not exist anymore. On top of that you have a dealer that clearly isn't going to do anything for you to fix it. Time to buy another stove.

    Also Dutchwest stoves never have been the Ferrari of stoves. They are the lower priced value line of cast stoves sold by VC.
  3. petrusboots

    petrusboots New Member

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    To be honest I didn't think that I would get much advice that would be useful by laying out my story. But I did think that it was a wood stove site not a website site. My choice of background and font mirrors the journal on my website. Sorry I gave you a headache Brother Bart and if it pleases you I changed the link.

    As far as the advice of simply buying a new wood stove, did I mention I was an artist? I don't spend that kind of money everyday and do not have the funds to simply go out and get a new one. Besides that fact I am sick and tired of the shysters being allowed to continue doing whatever they want in this world. My part may be small but it is the only part I can play. And that is to use the tools available to me (like the internet) to share my story so that others may just land upon it and be able to make a more informed decision when purchasing (in this case) a wood stove.

    The Dutchwest may not be the Ferrari of stoves (as I have found out) but that's irrelevant. I could say this, I bought a piece of junk fan made in China from Canadian Tire (for those who don't know, Canadians also have another term for that chainstore "Crappy Tire"), it made a little more noise then I liked and when I took it back I got a new one or I could have been reimbursed. No questions asked.

    Furthermore I had my eye on another stove but the salesperson sold and pushed me on this one. Buyer beware I suppose, but what does that say about the human race. If we want to change it, we need to realise it starts with us. So I will do my part and I am not done with that dealer. As I mentioned I write an online journal and although I left the name, address, website of the dealer out of this thread because I thought it was not appropriate, I will not be so kind when I lay it out in my person journal. And yes I am taking his *%@ to court.

    If it is cool with this site, I ask that you please leave this thread up so that the next time someone should punch in Dutchwest or Vermont Castings this thread may come up.

    One last thing. If Vermont Castings has truly gone out of business then why is this still up there Vermont Castings And to add insult to injury once more, a pdf file of the same dead warranty is still available online.

    Thank you and good night.
  4. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Having finally slogged through your rant in its entirety, I have but two questions:

    Why would you not take the dealer up on this offer: "they would replace my "cast iron top of the line stove" with a metal one."

    (BTW, cast iron is, of course, metal. I'm assuming he was referring to a steel stove, of which there are a number of very fine units available).

    And, why in the world, after your experience with this stove, would you insist on this: "Replace the stove with the one I purchased."


    EDIT: Actually three questions. You wrote, "...I didn’t think that I would get much advice that would be useful by laying out my story. But I did think that it was a wood stove site...". It is a wood stove site, and what was it that you were expecting, or hoping, that anyone here could do for you?

    ??? Rick
  5. SteveT

    SteveT Feeling the Heat

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    I can understand the frustration and the feeling that you got hosed -- big time -- by buying this stove. You did.

    But expecting the dealer to take it back and give you a full refund just isn't realistic. Without Vermont Castings backing him up he would take the entire loss.

    And going to court would, IMHO, do absolutely nothing. Dealers do not provide warranties, they administer them for the manufacturer. They don't have any obligation beyond what the manufacturer will back them up on. If it was a minor issue I think a dealer might do something out of goodwill. But that is voluntary, not their obligation. Their offer for a steel stove was pretty darn generous under this circumstance. Maybe you can make peace with them and get it reinstated???

    The Vermont Castings company you bought from no longer exists. Their assets, including the name, were purchased and is being used by the new owner. But the old VC just ain't around any longer. MAYBE the new owner will step up to warranty coverage. It will be a business decision (how much cost is it worth to protect the company name). So if I were you I'd keep an eye on discussion boards like this and hope for something. But I sure wouldn't expect anything positive to come of it.
  6. petrusboots

    petrusboots New Member

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    Because if it was steel I wanted I would have bought it in the first place, that is not what I bought (or was sold).

    Call it a rant if you want, but I should hope you not be dissed in the same manner or perhaps you should be, to fully understand.

    Just ideas... but as I've said, more to inform than to rant. Sorry I wasted your time fossil and I guess you will know better than to go to one of my threads in the future.

    I guess we are all on our own and the next time I feel the need to be of public service you have given me a second thought.

    Once again to the webmaster, please leave this thread up so that others may not fall into the same trap I fell into and considering the last reply (Fossil's) I am going to stop this before I flip out once more.

    I still have my Cast Iron Fisher and the planet will just have to deal with the emissions and the loss of trees I suppose.

    Adios amigos.
  7. guest5234

    guest5234 New Member

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    Petrus, I do not think it is wise to come on to a forum as a newbie and go off on one like a child....grab your toys you have thrown out of your pram and try and be civil next time....you might get some good advice from the many genuine people on here my friend.
  8. SteveT

    SteveT Feeling the Heat

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    Have you written the new owners directly? Maybe they have a published policy against honoring warranty claims for the old VC but will accept some on a case by case basis. Couldn't hurt to try.
  9. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Petrus is an artist and artists are known to be temperamental ...

    ...here's what I would do were I in your position. Now you should be in possession of 2 refractory tubes. Keep using the one newer one and look for any drop in stove performance. Get the other one over to a certified welder, tell 'em the problem, after he welds it he might anneal it or work some other magic that available to prevent it cracking again.

    If the cracked tube continues to do it job...just keep using it.

    You mentioned a brick problem but I didn't quite understand it. Horizontal cracks are no big deal a lot of time this happens when peeps throw there wood into the stove...don't do that anymore. If you think there's a relationship between the brick and the cracked tube...just shuffle the bricks around and put the cracked one in a corner.

    Don't be PO'd at the dealer...not his fault.

    Just hang in there VC will (I bet) end up honoring it past warranties when the new owners realize they're not selling stoves like they use to...or they will come up with partial warranty.

    I know peeps that use a Dutchwest and it works fine for them...if that non cat stove still heats your house and no smoke is coming out the chimney then its still working. All the great artists have endured hardships ...the Dutchwest is your cross to bear, good luck.
  10. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    savage the refractory package in his stove is cast ceramic, not iron or steel so it can't be welded.

    Petrus, your Fisher is a steel stove too. Just the doors are cast iron. Just like the doors on the new efficient steel stoves are cast iron.

    Dated an artist once. Took two aspirin, went to bed and got better in a few days.
  11. petrusboots

    petrusboots New Member

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    Thank you for the last couple of replies which tended to be a bit more constructive. I will just let the toy one go.
    The bricks are ceramic and I have considered creating molds from the ones I have so that I could pore my own should need be. But my worry is that they should not have cracked so quickly. I did not believe the saleswoman when she told me that they would last forever but I did not think it would happen so quickly, like after the first small fire, and find it unacceptable. And the chip out of the back of the stove just buggs me. It must have been hit somewhere along the road. And who knows what happened?
    Anyway, the initial dealer is history, he insulted my being with his antics. This thing should be covered, he should have looked after me, not tried to play me for a fool. I can not take that kind of stuff anymore from anyone.
    I painted some signs once. The local hardware store recommended an undercoat. I should have know better but I used it. A total of five signs I used this undercoat for. Three of my own and two for customers. Within a year the paint started peeling off. There was no talk of warranty and no question about it. It was my fault and I stripped them down and repainted them. It took me a month of work to correct the problem.
    Tomorrow I contact another dealer to see if I can help with this. I need a WETT inspection anyways and will get them to inspect the stove.
    Fooled my the doors, I didn't realise that about the Fisher, still it served me well.
    I never hit any brick with a log. I lean the first log on the andirons and place the second one against the first. They never even touched the bricks.
    Perhaps I will follow up on this thread on what transpires after the inspection.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Welcome Petrus. Sorry to hear about the bummer experience. I know it's hindsight, but I would have let the dealer replace the refractory on a new stove. This is a serious repair. If it failed, I'd want it to be their installation that failed.

    What was the steel stove offered in exchange? Given the current scenario with VC and their decision to not honor warranties on stoves sold prior to 2008 I would seriously consider taking the steel stove as long as it is equivalent size and value. If you don't like it, sell it and get a top quality stove that suits your aesthetic. Or ask your dealer for a trade-in credit on a better stove that you like. But the bottom line is I think you need to move on to a different stove in order to have peace of mind and most importantly - heat. The stove market is getting very tight right now. The supply is very limited with several brands. Pretty soon I wouldn't be surprised if you had no alternative but to stick with this questionable stove if you don't make a decision soon.
  13. wellbuilt home

    wellbuilt home Minister of Fire

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    I feel for you, I for one hate getting screwed over . My wife wanted a red vc defiant for years and when i heard about what vc has been up to, i had to get a hearth stone . I think VC had better get in the game, and start doing the write thing . I spent 3100 bucks and my mom and sister both are getting new stoves and neath-er is a VC
  14. petrusboots

    petrusboots New Member

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    I called the other dealer and he told me some good news.
    It turns out that the company who bought Vermont Castings have made the wise decision to honor past warranties. So I am still under warranty. He is coming to do the WETT (in three weeks sad to say, hope we have an Indian Summer) and will give the stove an independent inspection.
    As far as having them put the brick in, I know I should have forced the dealer to do it. But then that is the point, I would have had to get on their case to come up and do it. When the initial brick cracked (within 3 months) I told them and got no response until I contacted them months later and told them to just order the brick and that I would pay for it. And to be fully honest, they did finally give it to me under warranty but did not offer to install it.
    Question: What was the deal when the dealer said they would fix the stove but void the warranty? It turns out that it is not Vermont Castings policy after all. That dealer hasn't heard the last of me yet.
    As suggested in this thread, the new dealer did say that I may have to contact Vermont Castings personally and if it comes to that I will do it.
    Thanks for some of those last responses. The only way consumers are not going to be dicked around is to not allow it.
    I will add to this thread when I have more info and if Vermont does the right thing it will be stated.
  15. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Well that some good news anyway...let me tell ya when I was growing up VC was the primo stove manufacturer we couldn't afford. So I have a lot of respect for that name, your only as good as your last decision so it sounds like the cooler heads in the head shop prevailed...well good for them. As a consumer I want to buy in a world of many choices ...not just a handful of stove manufacturers.

    Yeah please keep us posted and keep in mind when your dealing with those reps you slide a lot farther on molasses than ya do on sand paper.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Last word I heard was that only stoves installed in 2008 would get warrantied. You might want to get a warranty guarantee in writing for the stove.

    Regardless, if you can get this covered under warranty, that is great news. Given the circumstances, I'd take the stove to the dealer and insist on them doing a factory certified repair and testing the stove.
  17. Metal

    Metal Minister of Fire

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    Just remember, you catch more flies with honey then vinegar (of course, you know what catches the most flies of all : ) Try to stay calm, as hard as that may be, and you will have a lot more success. You are caught up in a very frustrating situation and I can bet there are thousands more just like you out there trying to get help with their CFM appliances. I hope it works out for you in the end.

    P.S. maybe Adios Pantalones will let you borrow his avatar, it seems more fitting for your situation:

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/member/7601/
  18. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Sad story.

    To cut to the chase, you have been screwed by the usual corporate reorg thing.

    The company that owned VC before had VAST resources and still does - but by just making that tiny piece of their pie go belly up, they protect their pots of gold and take it out of your hide.

    So the first screw job is the old company. The new company then bought it at auction - and as BB says, they have no LEGAL reason to spend money on you or the tens of thousands of others with problems. BUT, this is almost a first (as far as I remember) in our industry....or, for that matter, in many others where a BRAND is very valuable. Instead of taking care of you and having you suggest the brand to others...forever - they have made the decision to throw away much of the goodwill of the brand.

    That, IMHO, is a bad business decision, but those are made every day...and who knows? They might come to their senses.

    The LAST thing we want to do is not welcome you or help you...so please take our friendly bantering lightly. We are here to help.

    I will read your entire rant when I get a chance. Always remember that you have a LOT of power........just by posting your rant, and linking it here - you are likely to start coming up high in google searches about the brand. This puts pressure on the stove company....to modify their policies in the best case, or possibly even to decide that your problem is one worth taking care of.

    I feel your frustration. I sold the VC brand in my shop for many years - even though a couple re-orgs, but they never before tried to get away with screwing their customers as far as warranty. The founders and original team at that company would NEVER have considered such a thing.

    If it makes you feel any better, it was Canadians who ran the last two VC parent companies down the drain, although it is a American firm that now owns it.

    I'll add more when I read your story,
  19. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Read the story and the other posts.....

    1. Things are not as bad as they seem - not that the cracks are all normal, etc. - but my initial opinion is that there is little, if anything, dangerous about the stove. That should help the part about sleeping at night!

    2. Kudos to the new VC company for deciding to take care of your warranties - and perhaps others. Credit should be given where it is due.

    In fairness to BOTH the new company and the former customers - although I would expect previous warranties to be addressed in some form, I do understand (and agree) that warranties older than one year can certainly be scrutinized in a stronger manner than usual. What I mean by that is that companies often go over and above the letter of the warranty - especially VC in the previous years - and take care of things that are not always covered by the written warranty.

    In my opinion it would be fair for them to ask for some understanding from their dealers, distributors AND end users while they attempt to resurrect the brand. Although that may leave some customers with concerns, it passes muster in terms of the overall picture. I say this having been on all sides - customer, dealer, distributor, importer and manufacturer!

    Glad your problem was resolved and I hope we hear other such stories of the new company stepping up. Make sure you change your web site, link, etc. to reflect the current story
  20. jeff6443

    jeff6443 New Member

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    So since my stove was bought installed in 2008 I have a warrenty . I like this place , I ll try to be good
  21. Shaun

    Shaun Member

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    I too have some waranty woes. My damper housing is slightly warped and the lower refractory has a small crack starting in my 3 year old VC Encore Non Cat. Went to the dealer yesterday, and they told me waranty was no longer valid and that I would have to buy the parts myself. So at this point, I will see how much the new parts will cost me and decide if I want to repair the VC or go out and buy something else.
  22. petrusboots

    petrusboots New Member

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    First of all I checked out the avatar, and thanks, you started my day off with a laugh (full belly).
    Sometimes I come off as an angry person, but I am not, really, believe me. Gandhi is one of my heroes, along with King and a host of others who made change through non-violent means. Also, thanks to all who took the time to read my story, I know it was long and too involved but I tried to make it as short as possible without leaving out important details.
    As far as the warranty information I received from the new dealer, this is what he told me and as yet I have not followed up on the advice of contacting the company directly. This is not settled yet. But considering what the initial dealer put me through and tried to lay at my doorstep, I feel I should get the stove looked at by the new dealer first, so that I have an independent inspection (of my wood etc...) to verify my position before I approach the company (gathering ammo). Because until then, it is only my word against the initial dealers. This new dealer wanted to know the name of the one I bought the stove from but I would not tell him because I want his word to be as unbiased as possible. When and if I do need to contact the company, I may just direct them to this thread (if that is cool with the site ?) to enlighten them on what happens in the computer age when you try to shirk responsibilities.
    And you know what? I have a feeling Vermont is not my problem. I have a feeling that the new dealer, although I did not tell him, already knows who I bought the stove from (I have heard other stories concerning this dealer's service, too late to be of use personally). I mean, if it is true and Vermont has made this right, that dealer is feeding misinformation out there. I can't see the company being too pleased with that, seeing how it ends up making them look bad in the end.
    I will follow up with this, but I will wait. I am a patient artist with tempermental moments. Three weeks, and so far it looks good, it's been warmer lately then it has been all summer. I am not touching the stove until all this works it's way through. And when it comes time to fix it, the new dealer will be doing the work.
    And yes I agree. Along with speaking up when wronged, it is just as important to speak up when good comes along. As I said, I was proud of my purchase and I may just be again. Hopefully.
    One last thing. When I said that I didn't think I would get help here, it was not personal to the site, it was just that I had run this through my brain more than once and knew that my options where limited. It's been good, if only to be given the opportunity to vent.
  23. SteveT

    SteveT Feeling the Heat

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    This is going a bit off topic, but since reading this thread I have been thinking about the cost of warranty in general. As a point of reference, for many years I worked for a large company that made aircraft systems. We carefully tracked the warranty costs and, on average, it came to about 2% to 2.5% of sales.

    I can't imagine a manufacturer making a quality stove - or ANY high quality product - would have significantly different warranty costs. There are vast differences between aircraft parts, wood stoves (or for that matter cars or televisions or dishwashers or whatever) but wouldn't any manufacturer strive to get it so that warranties cost no more than a few percent of sales? Anything not spent on warranty drops to the bottom line.

    The new owner of VC paid over $40 million for the acquisition of assets. I believe the most valuable asset by far is the name. So if my logic holds they could invest another $1 million or so and have a viable business with a industry-leading name. Or they could take the "penny wise" approach and destroy the company name.

    I'm now guessing that favorable warranty resolution as Petrus got will become routine.
  24. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Enginerep,

    Based on my experience, most stove companies can take care of warranties for 1 to 2%. This may differ with pellet stoves (maybe 5%), but VC does not make Pellet stoves.

    Keeping the cost down is a matter of management style and working with the customers and dealers. I have found that Being a Human Being goes a long way! When I was the Tarm importer, we spent about 2% a year taking care of ALL warranties - and that included 20 year warranties on older models!

    We had numerous situations where it could have cost us thousands (for a fix), but my customer service guy was so good...he would get on the phone with the customer and next thing the user would be happy with $175 (maybe to get something welded in a rare case of a leak)......

    I guess we have to give the new company time to digest the operations and then perhaps they will hire some of the right people.....that can make all the difference.

    Of course, it should be said that stove warranties have NEVER been complete (like cars, etc.)......where you simply make a claim and they fix it. The dealers generally lose money on warranty claims.....low travel allowance (if any), etc.

    But because the amount of warranties has been low over the years, dealers rarely complained.

    Customers can be very understanding when things are laid out to them in a honest manner. When we were dealers, we always explained to the customer that the warranty was NOT through us - it is/was a manufacturers warranty - but we would do everything in our power to make certain we went to bat for the customer.
  25. petrusboots

    petrusboots New Member

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    "Dibble Dab Dibble Dab", the angry artist is back.
    In my last post I said that I was going to wait for the new dealer to have a look at my stove but I have reconsidered it. With regard to winter coming and others that have warranty issues looking for answers, I am going to give Vermont Castings a call tomorrow. For others with problems, this is what the new dealer told me to do. Call VC, that they (Vermont Castings) would send a team over to assess and if there were problems covered under warranty, that he would be the one to do the work. He also told me that the contact numbers on the VC site are operational.
    I agree with Webmaster, the dealer is a vital link in the chain and when that link is weak the customer and the company loose out.
    Tomorrow we see what happens and I will follow up in this thread.

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