Social recommendations didn't stop us from buying this lemon dishwasher

I generally put a lot of stock into social recommendations and I incorporate them heavily into my product analysis.  When we moved, we needed a new dishwasher, so I of course went to Home Depot and checked out their selection and settled on the GE GDWT768VSS, a high-end appliance with most features, including quiet operation and an innovative detergent dispenser that meters the exact amount of soap needed to get the dishes clean.  Reviews were fine and most noted how quiet it was.  In any event, GE is my favorite appliance brand, so it seemed low risk.

So, I ordered it.  I should have known, I guess, when the first arrived broken.  We got lots of apologies from the very friendly installation crew and the second arrived a week later.  It was operable, but wouldn't get the dishes clean.  At this point, I got a request to leave my own review on homedepot.com and I was happy to do so:

We called the very friendly GE customer service team and the repairman arrived another week later.  He found that a part had been installed incorrectly and once he installed it correctly, the dishwasher ran more-or-less fine.  The dishes were nowhere near as clean as the 10 year-old dishwasher it replaced, but we were told that was because of the EnergyStar requirements.  The repairman advised us to use "added heat" and "steam heat" together to get the dishes clean -- I'm sure that's not EnergyStar recommended.

Dispenser

We decided that doing more dish pre-cleaning than we're used to was okay, but the dishwasher's automatic detergent dispenser uses five times more detergent than we used before.  This can't be good for the environment and the gel detergents it requires are expensive!

Since we couldn't return the dishwasher (Home Depot only allows 48 hours for returns, we're told) we stopped using the automatic soap dispenser and lived with marginal cleaning quality.

Then the thing broke again!  This time, it dumped water on the floor, but continued its cycle, baking food onto the plates.  We called for the fourth service visit and four days later another repairman arrived.  He found that the water sensor was stuck "on", so it shut the water off (though why it continued to allow us to run the heating elements without water is a mystery).  He fixed the sensor, so the dishwasher operates again and he agreed that the built-in dispenser uses too much soap.

We're now on our fourth visit, so of course we're annoyed.  The very friendly GE customer service people tell us not to worry, as it's under warranty and they will send a repairman in the "unlikely" event that it breaks-down again.  Super.  Just what we expect from a $900 dishwasher.

We also now see that this model has been discontinued by GE and no longer for sale by Home Depot.  It seems like it's a fairly new model, so I wonder why it's no longer for sale and I wonder what they'll do if this one craps out?

Update June 8, 2012

GE is still working on this with us and we've now had a fifth visit.  The installer had been on one of the earlier calls and the visit was brief.  With help from the support line, he verified that the heating element was working and that water was flowing through the arms.  Not finding anything obvious with the dishwasher he suggested the following:

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  •  Water temperature at inlet was too low.  He measured 110 degrees.  I later measured 120 degrees, but whatever.
  •  Possibly we aren't loading the dishwasher correctly.
  •  Maybe we're letting the dishes sit for too many days before loading.  We run the dishwasher daily, so I don't think this is the case.  

He and the phone support had no suggestions for the excessive detergent use.  Two times, we went through a 125 oz bottle in three weeks.  Surely this is excessive.

Anyway, after he left, we increased the setting of the GE hot water heater to ensure that inlet temperature was at least 130 degrees.  After that, we loaded the dishwasher and ran a normal cycle with added heat, without improved results.  We also ran with added heat and steam.

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I'm not sure what else we can do.  We're basically pre-washing the dishes and still not using the detergent dispenser due to excessive consumption.

And here's one last before and after pic taken June 16:

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