Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The battle with the oven

...it seems I lost.

But I will not accept defeat wholeheartedly. I feel I was deceived. Deceived by terrible design.

I'm not a foreigner to strange ovens. Goodness knows I did my battle with the Finnish oven and I'd have to say that one was a resounding success. It is also my entire opinion that the Finnish oven, despite being made by the exact same company (Indesit) was completely and utterly better designed.

Anyway, back to my point.

During my initial apartment check-in, it was confirmed by the apartment agents who were with me that the oven did in fact work. I wasn't in the kitchen when they flicked the switch, turn the knobs and pushed the buttons, but by the time I walked in the oven light was on and there was clearly heat coming out of it. Appliance clearly worked, box checked and list cleared.

I wanted to bake this past weekend. I didn't know what but at the very least the thought of baking a casserole had crossed my mind previously and the ideas of wonderful baked or broiled meats had started pouring in once I met the wonderful local organic non-GM fed butcher. So I turned on my oven one day to get it preheated as I was making the frittata that I ate the other week.

I let it preheat for a good 15-20 minutes. I then checked it after I was done chopping and mixing. The oven was stone cold. Though I could hear and feel the fan whirring and clearly the thing was on, as I'd flicked the switch on the wall that enabled me to turn on the cooktop and the oven (they're the same switch, as there are switches for all the outlets in the apartment...silly British).

I repeated this procedure a few times, thinking that maybe I'd skipped a few steps somewhere along the way. No...the light next to the knob with lots of pictures clearly wasn't turning on.

I called the help of my parents last time I was on skype with them, hoping to get some outsider insights. I even sent them a picture of the knob of images I was having the most trouble with:


I have an idea what half of these images are, but we had some wild guesses. Counter-clockwise from the top:

  • Off
  • Convection?
  • Broiler on high
  • Broiler on low
  • Fan?...for cooling?
  • ...not any good ideas...I figured this might be for cleaning the oven, as we have in the States (this basically just turns on  your oven really hot to burn anything off and then you're supposed to just scrub this burnt matter off yourself).
  • Oven light
Well, my Dad took the initiative and looked up a PDF manual online based on some numbers I found on a sticker on the inside of the oven. The manual was USELESS. I'll repeat that: USELESS.

It goes over in intricate detail how to set the clock and how to turn the oven off but not on.

Thanks a lot, oven maker. I really appreciate you helping me figure out how to use your appliance.

So I emailed my property manager and said that despite the check-in agent being able to get heat to come out of it when they checked me in (though not being able to explain the process of how that happened...as in not being able to give me a run down of which knobs they turned or buttons they pushed to make this happened, they just gave me a vague explanation), I was unable to get heat to come out.

I was at work a few days later when I got a call from a company that said their engineer was walking around and would I be at home to receive him in an hour. Uhh, make that an hour and a half, I'm still at work. So I rushed home and let him in two hours later.

The oven worked fine. You know how he got the heat to come out?

I showed him how I turned on the oven and made no heat come out. He then said that was all good and dandy, but that I was missing a crucial step: I needed to do the three-finger salute of setting the clock (which was blinking everytime because I had to turn the power back on via the on/off switch on the wall) otherwise the heat wouldn't turn on.

I'm sorry, what? Since when did an oven depend on setting the clock every single time? I hate you so much Britain! Your ovens are just as convoluted and unclear as your polite and useless banter!

The repairman left (he was a polite Russian man)...and I couldn't blame him for what he clearly did know, plus he showed me the secret of turning on my oven. But he did confirm that I would be charged since there was nothing that needed to be repaired.

I immediately fired off an email to my property manager about how I was infuriated that I was never given a manual and the check-in agent wasn't able to reproduce the steps they took to turn on the oven in the first place. That I shouldn't be charged for this stupid design and no explanation and even though I looked up a manual online it was of no help. He said he would read the engineer's report first before deciding to charge me, and that's where I stand now. I guess we'll see.

[Editor's note since this post was originally written: it's been about a month if not more and there's been no contact from my property manager. Not even an acknowledgement of the repairman coming out. The British do things extremely slowly and bureaucratically, so it's possible I will never be charged for this. I will keep my fingers crossed.]

I guess if I get charged I'll consider it a tax for now knowing how my oven works. If I don't I'll consider it appropriate since someone should have been able to explain it to me in the first place. This should be free knowledge.

In conclusion all I can say is: whoever designed this this way should be lynched. I would certainly fire this person if they were on my team. Fire them so hard. This design? Awful.

And that's all I'll say. I've clearly lost this battle with the oven.

Now, onto using this oven with sweet abandon. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

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