Needless to say, when I needed a pot of pans a few years ago, I bought a set of Le Creuset enamelled cast iron pans in a nice blue colour. They've served me well and the enamel finish is as good as day one.
What lets them down are the handles. Whilst the pan is good cast iron and a thick enamel protective coating, the handles are made of wood. For starters, wood burns...not ideal for hanging over a gas burner with open flames. The smaller pans have suffered from some slight brown/black burn marks underneath. Nothing major, but cosmetically they look used.
Since moving house, however, I've become the owner of a dishwasher. I know from how my mom's pans got ruined years ago that Le Creuset pans and dishwashers don't mix well. Essentially the heat and alkaline mix of the dishwasher just killed her wooden handles. Not quite what you would expect from such a well known, hard wearing, brand
Le Creuset have seen the light and started supplying their pans with phenolic handles now. Not the traditional wood, but they do now work in the dishwasher. So the dilema...
Do I throw out some perfectly good saucepans just to get dishwasher safe handles? If I do, should I buy the same brand? (Would you?)
Suddenly I had a bright idea, I dropped customer services a line:
I have a set of Le Creuset saucepans with wooden handles but, since moving home, I now have a dishwasher.
Is it possible to swap the handles for phenolic, dishwasher safe ones?
I got a very prompt reply, great service, unfortunately the answer wasn't quite what I'd hoped:
Thank you for your enquiry.
As you have wooden handled saucepans, we advise you stay with the same, because the fittings inside the black handled saucepans are slightly different, and you would not get a water tight seal to enable you to put you pans in a dishwasher, also the handles would be a bit wobbly.
Should you require any further assistance or information please do not hesitate to contact us or call our free helpline on 0800 373792, the helpline is open Monday - Friday 10.00am - 4.00pm.
OK, so the new handles don't fit the old pans...how inconvenient. Actually, it's probably quite convenient for their sales figures. I have pans, bought this side of the new millenium and they're not even fit for a dishwasher or upgradable.
So basically what you're saying is that, to get dishwasher safe pans, I
need to throw them in the bin and buy another brand?
Another swift reply later:
Thank you for your enquiry
You can still use you pans, but you will need to wash them by hand, because
of the wooden handles.
At this point, I sense the conversation will go in circles so I've just decided I will publish my story and send Le Creuset a link for reference. After all, look what happened to Carphone Warehouse on here which led them to close down their billing system and give it back to Vodafone following all the complaints from genuine customers like myself!
I'm very disappointed. There's no reason why a set of phenolic handles couldn't have been made to retrofit to the old pans, this is just bad for the customer.