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Kettle Joe Member Review............a sad posting

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  • Uncle Bob
    Club Member
    • Feb 2019
    • 607
    • Salado, Tx
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      KJ Kettle Joe

    Kettle Joe Member Review............a sad posting

    I'm not real happy to have to do this, but we are here to help one another so here goes. I would imagine that in time Max Good will get ahold of one of these. It will be interesting to see what someone with his experience has to say.

    All of the reviews I've seen on the new Kettle Joe have been of preproduction units sent out gratis for evaluation. Various YouTube reviews as well as some very good write ups by Alphonse on these pages comment on various features, the SloRoller attachment in particular. To be fair to those reviews, they didn't know what the production units would be like so most stayed focused on the cooking performance with little to no commentary on quality. And, again to be fair, quality perceptions are subjective and can, at best, be made relevant by comparison to better know products on the market.

    I purchased this understanding that I was buying something new to the market and that user information was limited. Like many I was/am intrigued by the development story, engineering, and science behind the SloRoller with it's designed in vortex and it's effects on the smoking process. There is always a risk in buying something sight unseen, and compound that with a first production run product which could be prone to teething issues. Any trepidation I might have had with that was tempered by my past experience with Kamado Joe. I bought one of their original ceramic cookers the first year they came out because I saw one and was impressed that the quality was every bit the equal of the industry standard Big Green Egg. And they did stand behind their warrantee then when the fire box cracked in a couple places which warranted them sending out their newest design with the multi-segment configuration. Win win, good job. Sadly, this story is going in the opposite direction.

    When I unpacked the parts to assemble I saw that two of the ceramic fire basket placards had heat stress cracks in them already. When the SloRoller ring came out of it's wrapping it had a void about two inches long in the porcelain coating. My thought was, once I registered my purchase, these things would be taken care of through warrantee replacement.
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ID:	1026725 This afternoon I received a reply from KJ customer support that I will cut and paste so there's no chance for misunderstanding their reply:

    "From: Payton E Williams
    Sent: 5/3/2021
    Subject: Warrantee replacements

    Good Afternoon,

    Thank you for contacting Kamado Joe customer support. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. The paint on the inside of your grill and stress cracks will not impact the quality of your grill. Therefore, does not warrant full replacement. However, we do have a 5 year warranty on metal parts and lifetime on ceramics if this ever causes any issues."

    I guess I should be thankful that they didn't charge extra for the cracks and void.

    Now, beyond that poor customer support, there are other issues with the cooker. Let me start with the idea that any good cook can get good results from almost any cooker. Alphonse has shown that in his posts on this cooker. I have done three grilling sessions so far, but haven't put the SloRoller to the test yet. I suspect it will function fine though who knows if the design really makes a difference. My other issues are with the overall quality level, beyond those shortfalls noted above. The feel of it is somewhat light and tinny. It's not awful, but to get a little past the subjective thing, it doesn't have the better feel of a Weber kettle as far as "heft" for want of a better word. It leaks more than any Weber kettle I've used, though I have added some nomex gasket material to the top and SloRoller ring which helped a little. Both the intake and exhaust dampers fit pretty loosely, and this shows up at shut down when it takes a few hours for the fire to go completely out in the remaining coals. By the next morning probably half the coals left at the end of the cook are ash. It leaks plenty. Again, the Weber kettle does much better, as does the Oklahoma Joe's Bronco I use a lot. The Bronco really puts the KJ to shame for quality, and for a couple hundred bucks less. It seals well from the factory with it's woven lid gasket and tight intake and exhaust dampers. Both the Weber and the OJB lose little to afterburn when shut down. Back to the Kettle Joe, the ash collector basket is very flimsy and sloppy in it's hole. It lets some small chunks of lump charcoal drop thru to be underfoot while you're cooking at times. It's a small issue, but has happened.

    There are a few more nits to pick but I'll just end it here by saying this thing has some marvelous engineering features that make it appear to be a better device. Kamado Joe has, in the past, earned a reputation for quality at a fair price with added features a standard. Now that it's under the same roof as Masterbuilt those positives no longer seem to exist. I call this kind of product "built down to a price, not up to a standard". We'll see over time how others in the marketplace react, but from my point of view this isn't good value. Perhaps the SloRoller used as an attachment on the Weber or other 22" cookers could be a game changer, but the Kettle Joe as a whole package is lacking value.
  • jfmorris
    Club Member
    • Nov 2017
    • 3881
    • Huntsville, Alabama
    • Jim Morris

      Cookers
      • Slow 'N Sear Deluxe Kamado (2021)
      • Camp Chef FTG900 Flat Top Grill (2020)
      • Weber Genesis II E-410 w/ GrillGrates (2019)
      • Weber Performer Deluxe 22.5" w/ GrillGrates & Slow 'N Sear & Drip ‘N Griddle & Party Q & Rotisserie (2007)
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      Beverages
      • Whatever I brewed and have on tap!

    #2
    So sorry to hear of this bad warranty experience. Certainly not what I was expecting to hear. I knew you had commented on some issues on receipt of the grill, but most companies seem to stand behind their products. Sad to hear that KJ is no longer one of those companies.

    Comment

    • RonB
      Club Member
      • Apr 2016
      • 14057
      • Near Richmond VA
      • Weber Performer Deluxe
        SNS
        Pizza insert
        Rotisserie
        Smokenator 1000
        Cookshack Smokette Elite
        2 Thermapens
        Chefalarm
        Dot
        lots of probes.
        CyberQ

      #3
      It did look "cool", but was never really on my radar. Thanx for the review.

      Comment

      • Histrix
        Club Member
        • May 2016
        • 479
        • 757

        #4
        I'm gonna side with KJ regarding the minor flaw in the ceramic fire bowl segments. Those will have no effect on grill operation. If the cracks were to continue thru till they fell into separate pieces (which may never happen) then replace them under the lifetime warranty then.

        Comment


        • Uncle Bob
          Uncle Bob commented
          Editing a comment
          We have different perspectives. When I buy new I expect it to be as described. Never saw a cracked ceramic as an expectation in any of their sales material. To each his own......

        • GolfGeezer
          GolfGeezer commented
          Editing a comment
          Totally agree with Uncle Bob. New means NEW! Not cracked, marred, bent, dented, chipped, flaking, discolored, etc. Good grief, have we gotten so trained that manufacturers/sellers can set out sub-par products and that is OK? Crazy.

        • smokin fool
          smokin fool commented
          Editing a comment
          I gotta side with Uncle Bob on this one.
          That's like buying a new car with a flat tire and being told,
          No Problem you brought it take it home and live with it....
          Histrix does have a point, in the grand scheme of things if the cracks are cosmetic may never make a difference but when you buy new you want new not a percieved factory second.
      • Jerod Broussard
        Moderator
        • Jun 2014
        • 10073
        • East Texas
        • Pit Barrel Cooker "Texas Brisket Edition"
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        #5
        Curious to see how the cracks proceed to create their very own fault lines. If the shipping heat created that, cooking heat is gonna be a beast.
        Tough to beat that Bronco.

        Comment


        • Uncle Bob
          Uncle Bob commented
          Editing a comment
          Many moons ago I was in my corporate life and part of what I did was failure analysis. This afforded me an opportunity to gain some level of knowledge in a variety of disciplines/processes. These cracks are most likely the result of the manufacturing process they use. If the company were focused on quality control these would never have shipped. But, those who side with the company foisting these shoddy products on the consumer are in the majority today, so we get these kinds of results.
      • Oak Smoke
        Club Member
        • Aug 2018
        • 510
        • Central Texas

        #6
        Thank you so much! I had one of these lined up as the gift I wanted for my birthday. You only turn 69 once, I don't want a poor quality cooker to ruin my day. I've had my KJ for several years and been totally happy with both the cooker and any warranty issues I've had. It could be another case of a good name used to sell junk. I hope not, but it won't be the first time.

        Comment

        • bbqLuv
          Club Member
          • Jan 2020
          • 2110
          • Milwaukie, OR

          #7
          Thanks for the honest review.
          Long Live BBQ

          Comment

          • Mr. Bones
            Charter Member
            • Sep 2016
            • 10628
            • Kansas Territory
            • Grills / Smokers
              *********************************************

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              Weber "C" Code 18.5" WSM '81 ($50 CL) 8-0!!!
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              (Lime Green)
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              *********************************************
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              *********************************************
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            #8
            So sorry to hear the Customer Service Response, Amigo...

            Might Not be a Big Hit, financially, but they jus wiped Mr. Bones offa their Potential Customer List...

            Comment

            • jhoskins
              Club Member
              • Dec 2020
              • 89
              • Grand Rapids, MI
              • Smokers / Grills
                • Weber Original Kettle Grill
                • Weber Q Gas Grill
                • Big Green Egg (Large)
                • Weber Silver A (fixer upper project, currently sitting dead in my garage)

                Accessories
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                Beverages
                • Favorite beer(s): Bell's Oberon, Founders All Day I{A, Corona Extra, Heineken, Guinness
                • Red Wine: Anything dry and under $15 per bottle
                • Whiskey: Oak & Eden, Larceny... not extremely picky

                About Me
                Real name: Jesse
                Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
                Favorite Football Team: Michigan Wolverines (NCAA) and the Detroit Lions (primary NFL) / Baltimore Ravens (secondary NFL, after the Lions are statistically eliminated from the playoffs... usually by Thanksgiving)

                Occupation:
                • Aerospace/Software/Systems Engineer

              #9
              Man I was really looking forward to hearing more about these, the nerd in me was really excited to see how some modern engineering could build a cooker. Bummer... maybe they will improve it going forward, but customer service and build quality issues aren’t a good combination...

              Comment


              • Uncle Bob
                Uncle Bob commented
                Editing a comment
                Agreed. It was a "nerd" purchase for me as well, I enjoys the toys and am fortunate to be able to support my whimsy. It wouldn't have taken much to up the ante on the 8-10 "little things" (called attention to detail) and this would have fulfilled it's potential.

              • jhoskins
                jhoskins commented
                Editing a comment
                Ya I am hopefully they will up the ante and make improvements. The concept seems super cool... execution appears to be the problem
            • Max Good
              AmazingRibs.com's Keeper of the Flame
              • Jun 2014
              • 927
              • Max Good

              #10
              Thanks for your valuable info. Kettle Joe certainly grabbed our attention when the first PR came out. I contacted KJ about testing, but they didn't have any production models at the time. Your sad report above illustrates why our Amazingribs.com Testing Policy specifies, "Your product must be available for purchase throughout the continental USA, and shipped to us in retail packaging. We cannot test prototypes, Kickstarters, or Indiegogos." I will retain your comments for future reference. KJ had promised us a production model in April, but subsequently said they were "oversold" and couldn't send one until Fall. Please continue to share your experience with us. I'll be watching.

              Comment


              • Uncle Bob
                Uncle Bob commented
                Editing a comment
                Glad you commented here Max Good. The story just advanced a bit more as I now received another email from a different guy at KJ saying that they didn't currently have individual parts available to satisfy warrantee complaints, but that he would keep my case open. Confusing responses don't make me feel warmer, but time will tell. If/when something happens I'll update this thread.
            • FireMan
              Charter Member
              • Jul 2015
              • 8692
              • Bottom of Winnebago

              #11
              Expensive lesson learned. I wonder if there is any other venue putting products through testing the way Max & Amazing Ribs puts products through. Sometimes I feel that AR reviews are taken just a little lightly then they should be. Score another one for AR.

              Comment


              • Uncle Bob
                Uncle Bob commented
                Editing a comment
                LOL, all things are relative. I played with old cars, hot rods, and some drag racing for over 55 years. Doing things like that will really show you what "expensive lessons" are all about.
                Last edited by Uncle Bob; May 4, 2021, 10:36 AM.

              • Max Good
                Max Good commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks Fireman!
            • Uncle Bob
              Club Member
              • Feb 2019
              • 607
              • Salado, Tx
              • Summerset TRL44 gas grill and side sear
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                EcoQue Gen 3 wood fired oven
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                Oklahoma Joe's Bronco
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                Golden's Cast Iron Grill
                Ooni Koda 16
                KJ Kettle Joe

              #12
              See my comment to Max's post above for the latest "advance".

              Comment

              • Uncle Bob
                Club Member
                • Feb 2019
                • 607
                • Salado, Tx
                • Summerset TRL44 gas grill and side sear
                  Weber Performer
                  Cajun Grill Preaux
                  EcoQue Gen 3 wood fired oven
                  Camp Chef Somerset IV 4 burner propane stove
                  Camp Chef FTG600
                  OT QOMOTOP 23-inch Gas Griddle
                  Oklahoma Joe's Bronco
                  Oklahoma Joe's Bronco Pro
                  Oklahoma Joe's Judge
                  Oklahoma Joe's Rambler
                  Golden's Cast Iron Grill
                  Ooni Koda 16
                  KJ Kettle Joe

                #13
                Nothing new to report on the parts replacement possibility since they estimated it would likely be "weeks" before they got any in. However, I did get tracking on the cover they just shipped today, so maybe that will be a sign of some sort.

                As for cooking, I did a rack of spare ribs for tonight's dinner. I normally do them at 250ish, naked the whole way. I learned years ago with my first KJ kamado to catch the temp on the rise and adjust the vents 50 or so degrees below target and fine tune from there. On that point this kettle responded similarly, though for the first hour it was hard to get it below 270 until the coals "mellowed" out or whatever they did. After that it cruised for the three hour cook at 250ish. The unfortunate thing about that is that the bottom vent was completely closed and the top vent at about 25% open. More evidence that this thing just doesn't seal well even though I've added nomex gaskets to the lid and SloRoller ring. I'll probably play with tightening up the in and out vents to see if there's any improvement. Just to reinforce that thought, I completely shut down both vents when the cook was done, the pit temp was 250. Just looked a bit ago, 3 hours later and the pit temp is still 150, just too much air leaking in. Now, some of the temp limits are probably on me for using lump. I suspect that the briquette folks could play games with the fuel loading and lighting and be able to dial down the fire progression better than can be done with lump, but those numbers after shut down would still likely be similar. It did produce a nice smoke ring though, for what that's worth.

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                Comment


                • FireMan
                  FireMan commented
                  Editing a comment
                  To bad ya have the struggle that ya have. I hope the smoke ring meant it was decent eatin.

                • Uncle Bob
                  Uncle Bob commented
                  Editing a comment
                  FireMan the ribs turned out well, nice flavor add from the hickory chunks I chose. Sorting through the quirks of a "new to you" cooker is common, but as noted, the build standard (or not) is a bit annoying.

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