Why doesn’t my KitchenAid dishwasher work? Could be user error.

Dorothy Lathan’s dishwasher is a lemon — or is it? Our team of advocates looks into the matter and makes a startling discovery.

Question: Last year, I paid $1,007 for the top KitchenAid dishwasher. I’ve had nothing but problems with it, and my one-year warranty was extended another year by KitchenAid.
What kind of trouble? It leaves dishes dirty and doesn’t turn on consistently. I’ve reported the problems 11 times and had six service calls.

Today, a technician reported that there was nothing wrong with the machine — even though he found cornbread crust covering the entire pan along with other dirty items.

Now I am told by KitchenAid that they will do nothing more for me unless I have a motor or control panel failure, despite the extension on my warranty. I contend that the problem was caused by one of their agents advising me to pour a box of baking soda in the machine after I had inadvertently used the wrong detergent when I first got the dishwasher. This was the beginning of my problems.

Can you help me? I want them to correct this once and for all or give me a new dishwasher. — Dorothy Lathan, San Francisco, Calif.

Answer: If KitchenAid sold you a nonfunctioning dishwasher, it should either fix it or replace it, no questions asked. But was your dishwasher really a lemon?

I began to wonder about that when I reviewed your correspondence. You said you believed pouring baking soda caused problems with dishwasher. But that shouldn’t have harmed the machine. You also mentioned to one of your advocates that you are “not very proficient” with the computer, which suggested there might be something else going on.

Related story:   The Carrabba's Italian Grill closed in my area, so what can I do with this gift card?

You can always reach out to one of the KitchenAid executive contacts — they’re listed on the Whirlpool executive contacts page — if you’re not getting an adequate response. But a look at your correspondence shows the company was being more than responsive and accommodating.

So what’s really going on? After I reached out to the company, and after my advocacy team reviewed your case, we concluded that you needed to take one more look at the owner’s manual, and follow the instructions. It shows you how to turn on the dishwasher and properly load it, which you apparently weren’t doing. That addressed both problems, and I understand the appliance is working exactly as advertised, and that your dishes are now sparkling clean.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org.

  • Sue Smith

    Sounds like KitchenAid went above and beyond to try to help this lady. Kudos to them for supporting her and fixing the “problem.”

  • sirwired

    I can only imagine what she was doing wrong; I mean, the controls are going to be different on every dishwasher, so she’d need to make sure to select “wash” instead of rinse, but it should otherwise work identically to every dishwasher since forever. (Load dishes facing the spray, don’t block the spray arms.)

    I’m guessing she got fixated on that thing with the baking soda (baking soda dissolves easily, even a whole box, so it certainly wasn’t a problem) and didn’t really do a great job listening after that point.

  • BubbaJoe123

    I spent some time doing tech support, and we had a code in the call log for issues like this: “PEBKAC.”

    Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair

  • sirwired

    Because my customers in my previous job sometimes had access to their own support cases, we couldn’t use that well-known one. We used “EEOA” (which nicely fit in our 4-letter Root Cause Code field…). Equipment Exceeds Operator Ability.

  • LDVinVA

    I can understand the confusion. I can easily use the controls on my own dishwasher – a KitchenAid, by the way – but my daughter has this fancy European one and for the life of me I cannot turn the darn thing on!


    My best friend had a fancy new dishwasher installed and thought she had a lemon. A service tech came out, tested the machine and it worked just fine. The tech had her show what she was doing. She made her selections on the touch pad and sure enough it cut off after 2 minutes. She did not realize that she had to tap the start icon on the pad for the wash cycle to actually begin.

  • disqus_00YDCZxqDV

    Here’s where you feel sorry for the customer support people who have to deal with end users that struggle with pressing a couple of buttons in the right order

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    We almost never use our dishwasher (also a kitchenaid), so I understand the user error type issue. This is why I read the instructions before using a new appliance.

  • Dutchess

    I always call it a PICNIC problem: Problem In Chair Not In Computer.

  • sirwired

    Yeah, those European dishwashers sometimes don’t “localize” the unit for American shores, sticking with the “Euroglyphics” that are pretty common on appliances over there.

    (There’s so many languages in Europe (sometimes within the same country) that they frequently don’t label controls with actual words.)

    Lucky for us, most European appliances are entirely unsuitable for the American market to begin with, so we don’t have to worry about those getting shipped here. In fact, I think dishwashwers are the only European appliance that would sell here, because they are the only ones that are similar to their American counterparts.

  • LDVinVA

    One of the problems is they are not buttons anymore. They are little touch pads that do not always engage when you try to use them.

  • BubbaJoe123

    At the higher end, there are some European ranges that sell in the US, and I see SMEG fridges around occasionally.

  • AJPeabody

    The three rules for repairing almost everything electrical:

    1: If it won’t work, plug it in.

    2: If it still won’t work, turn it on.

    3: If 1 and 2 fail, read the directions.

  • Bill

    thanks for that one … as a computer tech, we’ve often used the ID10T error code .. but I really like EEOA!

  • greg watson

    Wow…………..poor Kitchen Aid……………too bad they couldn’t back charge her for wasting their time…………..reading a how to manual………not exactly rocket science, if you actually read it…………. but you can’t fix some things…..

  • Carrie Livingston

    And hopefully made a donation to EdotO!

  • Tim Mengelkoch

    OHSNPA…Operator head space not properly adjusted (old Army saying)

Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.