"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Customer service

Given our solar power set-up I always establish the power consumption of any electrical appliance before it enters this house.  If I am unable to obtain this information from the manufacturer, or their accredited agent / distributor, then they don't get a sale.  And, trust me, too frigging many manufacturers can't / can't be bothered / won't give me any answers...!

So - I have been on the hunt for an electric bread maker.  My solar oven is great in summer, but is not that reliably usable in winter. The Rosie - we don't have it on every day during the winter months - only the days that warrant it.  Which means that I have to buy bread from the shop.

Every electric bread maker I found on-line didn't have any detailed info on the power consumption of the item.  Frustration!!   When will manufactures learn that consumers are more aware and need to be given such pertinent information, especially as more and more people move either off-grid, or who move from the land to the towns and become grid connected (having to budget for their power use) and who will make greater demands on the power providers??

On our last trip to the co-op in Swellendam, I went looking in their kitchen appliance section, and came across two bread makers - a Russel Hobbs model, and a Mellerware one.

The Russel Hobbs, at 1200 watts was too power hungry for our solar system, but the Mellerware at 610 watts was more promising.  However, their recipes state that the average cooking time for a loaf of bread is 3 hours.
Ma Baker Bread Maker II
610 watts for 3 hours = 1830 watts?  Nope, no usable with our system.

Or is it?

I know that mixing, proving and baking all require different human effort / heat.  Therefore, mixing and baking can't use the same amount of watts.  Similarly, nor can proving and baking...

I took a phone pic of the contact info of the bread maker's distributor, and, when we got home, I sent them the following e-mail:

From: Dani
Sent: 14 April 2015 05:19 PM
To: Creative Reception
Subject: Bread maker

Good day

I am interested in purchasing the Mellerware 26500B bread making machine.  However, we live off grid, and have only so much power, I was wondering if you could tell me how many watts in total the machine uses to make a single loaf.  Obviously, mixing the dough, proving and baking will all use power, but how much per function?  And how long does the unit stay at maximum wattage for?

I would be grateful if you could answer these questions.
Kind regards


A few days later I got this reply:

Good day

I am sorry for the delay in response.

The results for the 26500B bread maker.

Cycle 1: 76.9W(Mixing Intermittently for 5 min)
Cycle 2: 86W(Constant mixing for 5 min)
Cycle 3: Off(1W for 20 min)
Cycle 4: 86W(Constant mixing for 15 min)
Cycle 5: Off(1W for 80 min, proving)
Cycle 6: 610W baking for 55 min

Kind Regards Beverley      |  Customer Care

 021 931 8117
 021 931 4058

 20 Tekstiel Road, Parow, 7493, South Africa
Service Center Share Call: 086 111 5006

Now - that is what I call customers service.  For their trouble they are rewarded with a sale - the unit was ordered this last Thursday and I should receive it next week.

Well done Creative Housewares!!  You understand that if your staff are equipped with the knowledge of the product you are selling (or they know who to turn to in order to obtain such answers), and are thus able to provide answers to any prospective clients questions, then you are in a far more favourable position to successfully sell your wares.

Using the locally grown and produced stone ground Eureka Mills flour, this is one more item which will enable us to be more self-sufficient (or should that be self-reliant lol), which will free up my fridge space (I keep my weeks supply of shop bought bread in the fridge to prolong it's life), and finally, commercially produced "fresh" <sic> bread is something which I will no longer have to purchase during the winter months... :)

Given my dang tennis elbow, I am also going to get the bread to proving stage in the bread maker, and then bake it in my solar oven and Rosie - when it is lit :)

Win Win :)

Disclaimer:  In writing this I received absolutely nothing from the aforementioned Creative Housewares except their wonderful customer service.  My motivation for writing this was to share Creative Housewares positive commitment to their customers.  I believe in giving credit where credit is due.


Chickpea said...

Hey Dani, the seeds have arrived!!! I will organise the giveaway asap

I have been thinking about getting a bread machine but mine would have to be able to make gluten free bread.

Dani said...

Chickpea - Yay!! Reckon RMan sent it seamail, not airmail...?!

The Mellerware bread maker will make gluten free read : http://www.mellerware.co.za/media/instruction-manuals/26500im.pdf go to page 19 + 20. They have info there and 4 bread recipes.

Dunno if you can get Mellerware in the UK?

Mum said...

We only eat homemade bread. Shop bought bread tastes foul in comparison. Well done in finding such good customer service.

Dani said...

Mum - Couldn't agree with you more! Shop bread isn't bread in the full sense of the word...

It's going to be wonderful be be able to make bread year round - we miss homemade bread in winter.

kymber said...

congrats Dani and yes - manufacturers and dealers really need to get a handle on being able to answer questions! i look forward to seeing pics of your bread! we don't eat a ton of bread around here, but when we do, we make our own. but there is something so comforting when i see pics of homemade bread on other people's blogs!

sending much love! your friend,
(p.s. - i planted 4 of your piquante and bird's eye chilis and they are all up! woohoo!)

Dani said...

kymber - I definitely will :)

So glad to hear your seeds are sprouting - please don't forget to let me see the fruit as well... :)

Harry Flashman said...

You are a very thorough planner. You have to be when you are off grid, I know, but it's a pill. One of the things I did not do well when we were operating our system was load management. The generator was always kicking on.

Dani said...

Harry - I HAVE to be aware - pointless purchasing something which we are unable to use as per it's intent. Switching on the genny - yup, we have to do that now and then when the weather doesn't play ball, but that happens VERY infrequently (6 - 10 X year).