I am frustrated – can openers should work (always). They are pretty simple really; just a handle with a cutting blade and a gear wheel. The technology to open cans with a can opener has been with us for over 150 years. It is something humans should have mastered by now.
Kitchen-Aid normally makes really good quality products. I own a Kitchen-Aid Dutch oven, roasting pan, cast iron skillet, and, until recently, a can opener. Kitchen-Aid products are not cheap. They are premium quality line products. They make $100 Dutch ovens and $600 mixers. All of my previous experiences using their products had been positive ones – until I bought the Kitchen-Aid can opener.
Believe me, I wanted to love their can opener. I love all of the other Kitchen-Aid products that I have ever bought. The problem all started about six months after I bought it. I mostly open cat food tins, but also pineapple tins and mandarin wedge tins as well. I used to love the days when my Kitchen-Aid can opener used to do what it was intended to do. I loved the grip on the handle and the way that it confidently and assuredly cut into tins, grabbed on tightly with its sturdy gear wheel, and carved its way through the top of my can. Then one day, it didn’t cut into the can quite the way that it used to (I chalked it up to my incompetence or lack basic motor skills). The next day, cutting into the can became even more difficult, and the gear wheel just would not make it around the circumference of the can fully. The cat food that Murphy was now crying out for would not present itself. I had to open the rest of the can with pliers.
This can’t be the relatively new Kitchen-Aid can opener that I just bought half price at Canadian Tire a few months ago, I thought. Surely there must be something wrong with my technique. I tried cutting cans at new angles, turning the handle just a bit more slowly, then trying a bit more quickly; I soon realized that I was making excuses for this can opener that I wanted to like. Unfortunately, nothing that I tried would help me to open the cans that I wanted to open.
What went wrong? Quite simply, I don’t know. I am sure that there are some people that make a living investigating things like this (perhaps a forensic mechanical pathologist or a mechanical engineer), and I would love to hear from them if they can help (please post). What I do know is this – my family had the same can opener for probably twenty years while I was growing up. It was a boxy, square-handled job with two green rubberized handles that always cut into cans and always rotated smoothly around the top of cans (without fail). I don’t think it was a very expensive model. Are we now building even more obsolescence into everyday objects that are simple in design and function?
My guess is, yes. My feeling is that the metal alloy used in the gear wheel has been softened. Perhaps this is less expensive for the manufacturer (this would make sense). If this is true, this seems like a very poor business move on the part of Kitchen-Aid. As it is, a $6.00 can opener has changed my view of their products quite significantly (including their more expensive, top-end products). I no longer hold Kitchen-Aid in the esteem that I once did. I don’t really care that much about why my six-month old can opener stopped working, I care that it did stop working. I encourage Kitchen-Aid to find a solution. This is a pretty simple product to build right and to build to last – why cheapen your name and reputation on such a widely-used and popular product? Please feel free to respond, Kitchen-Aid. In fact, I’ll send a link to this post to your customer service department so that you have an opportunity to respond. I’ll be happy to post your response.
So, what did I do? I went out and bought a new can opener. I decided upon the FarberWare. The handle on this can
opener is also excellent (it even has that grippy rubber on it). It is easy to use, cuts into cans easily, and tears its way around their circumference. My cat is happy, and I am happy. So far, so good. Hey, I’ll even send a copy of this to FarberWare and give them a chance to reply as well. I will also post their possible response in an update.
My goodness, I’m already at 773 words. Far longer than I had originally intended with a post about a can opener. I do feel a bit better now, though, and I hope that you may have gotten something useful out of what I had to say.
Thanks for dropping by. Please come back soon and share this post with those that you really care about.
UPDATE (Wednesday, March 21st, 2012)
Kitchen-Aid has recently responded to my email and have offered to send me a new can opener, free of charge. They apologised for my experience, and offered to send me a free, new one. This is rather uncommon (although not unheard of) in the area of customer service, and I want to express my gratitude to Kitchen-Aid for responding and for trying to make things right. Perhaps I had a dud can opener; this can happen even with the best of manufacturers (of can openers, or of anything else). I look forward to receiving it and posting an update of this product. I have yet to hear from FarberWare, but anticipate hearing from them sometime soon.
Here are links to both products, available at Amazon.com