VANCOUVER -- Eric Pau calls himself a "pretty big" Le Creuset fan. He owns multiple pieces of the French company's cookware, and uses them often.

"I have been a Le Creuset fan for quite a few years, actually ever since the movie Julie and Julia, with Meryl Streep, and of course Julia Child made Le Creuset famous in North America a few decades ago," Pau told CTV News Vancouver. 

The company's products are high end. They come in candy colours and are coveted, Instagrammable, and wedding-present-worthy – in fact, Pau's yellow Dutch oven was a purchase celebrating his anniversary five years ago. And with a high price tag, the cast iron enamelled Dutch ovens and other pieces come with a lifetime warranty. 

So when Pau and his wife made soup during the pandemic and noticed hairline cracks in the enamel of their pot, they contacted the company right away. 

"You can see a string of spider-web cracks and hairline cracks along the bottom of the pot," Pau said, showing the damaged item to McLaughlin On Your Side.

When Pau contacted Le Creuset about the warranty, his claim was rejected. In an email, a representative named Amanda told him: "Our quality assessment team has taken a look at the photos provided and have confirmed your item (sic) not be under warranty. Our cast iron products are under a lifetime warranty on all manufacturers’ defects. This does not cover regular wear and tear, accidental misuse and/or if the product was inherited. The pictures have revealed what is known as "spider-webbing", small web-like cracks indicating the enamel has lifted from the cast iron (an occurrence only caused by overheating)."

In the same email, the company offered him a 50 per cent discount on a new Dutch oven, which would mean Pau would have to pay another $250 to get a replacement.  

"It's very disappointing," Pau said. "But I was looking on Reddit, Facebook and social media and I realized there are actually other Le Creuset customers who have had the same experience, where they used the pot carefully but their warranty claim was unfortunately rejected."

Consumer Reports' Paul Hope says that while premium cast iron like Le Creuset performs well in testing, it isn't supposed to be exposed to extreme changes in temperature.

"You need to be particularly cautious about something called thermal shock," he says.

But Pau said he knew enough not to use the pot on a high heat. The company also warns against it, except for searing, boiling water or reducing sauces.  

"I used it a few times before. But this time we were trying to make chicken soup, and I do know that you have to use minimal heat, so we did use medium heat on the stove top, but that unfortunately cracked the pot. If I pay $500 for a pot, I hope to at least be able to make chicken soup." 

So Pau began to question the authenticity of the product. The branding on the bottom looked more like "LE CPEUSET" – the "R" seemingly replaced with a "P", and the "S" misshapen.

"My pot doesn't even say 'Le Creuset'," Pau said, though it came from an authorized dealer, Ming Wo, in Vancouver. When we spoke with staff there, they told us they hadn't heard about any problems from customers or received any complaints about potential knockoffs. 

That's when he contacted McLaughlin On Your Side. We reached out to the company, and were told by an executive that if Pau explained to the representative that he was unhappy with the resolution offered, he could ship them the pot for further inspection. After we passed that information on to Pau, his response from the company changed. 

In an email, Pau told McLaughlin On Your Side: "Le Creuset emailed me today to say they have changed their opinion, and will now honour my warranty. Thank goodness."  

And though the managing director of Le Creuset Canada told us the branding issue could be related to a counterfeit product, he said it had no further comment on the story, leaving it a mystery whether the pot was actually authentic or not.