When I first wrote this article, it was about the recall of a specific appliance and brand. What I've since realized is an equally important message for all homeowners. Appliance recalls happen and we can't prevent them. What we can do is minimize our risk of ending up with a lemon by doing research before we buy new appliances. And it's easier than you realize!
Here's how you can check for product recalls. While we're using appliances to illustrate, the same steps can be used to research almost any product recall in the US. A few minutes before you buy, will help you avoid the situation where a few months after your purchase, you learn your brand new “fill in the appliance” has known problems.
How to Check for Appliance Recalls
First it's important to understand what criteria the government uses to initiate appliance recalls. They don't report every type of repair problem. They focus on safety problems stating that recalls are due to “risk of impact injuries”.
Here are the steps I followed to locate the Samsung washing machine recall described below.
- Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website, https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls … and notice how you can go directly to the section on appliance recalls.
- In the search box (upper right corner), enter the type of appliance you want to search for.
- Scroll the results presented as you're likely to find appliance recalls from the last year or two, on the first page. Here are the results found when I searched for “washing machines”.
- For appliances you already own, you can also limit your search to a specific brand like Samsung, which I've done here. Note that there are 2 entries for one recall – one in English, and a second notice in Spanish.
Experience with Samsung Washing Machine Recall
Samsung announced a washing machine recall of certain top-load washing machines on November 4, 2016. We're used to recalls for our cars but rarely find ourselves dealing with a recall related to our houses. That's because recalls focus on safety.
So where we typically expect washing machine problems related to water leaks, the government indicated this recall was because the “washing machine top can unexpectedly detach from the washing machine chassis during use, posing a risk of injury from impact”.
Options for Owners in Washing Machine Recall
Consumers had three options depending on when they bought their machine.
- Free in-home repair that includes reinforcing the washing machine’s top, plus a free one-year extension of the manufacturer’s warranty.
- Rebate you can apply towards the purchase of a new Samsung or other brand washing machine, along with free installation of the new unit and removal of the old unit.
- For consumers who purchased their washing machine within 30 days of the recall announcement, they could get a full refund.
All consumers should also get a Home Label Kit that has a control panel guide and additional safety instructions. Until then, the advice is to only use the delicate or waterproof cycles when washing bedding or other bulky items. The goal is to use lower spin speeds to lessen the risk of the washing machine top detaching from the washing machine chassis.
How Big is This Washing Machine Recall?
According to various news media websites, this washing machine recall affected 2.8 million appliances. The machines were purchased between March 2011 and November 2016, with prices ranging from $450 to $1,500. The washing machines being recalled were bought at a variety of stores. Both well known national brands like Best Buy and Sears sell appliances, along with the big box stores and smaller home appliance stores.
Out of curiosity, I stopped by a Best Buy store in Phoenix last night. They're side-stepping the issue. All they've done is marked the recalled machines “Not for Sale, Hold for Pick-up”. Sadly they're not telling consumers about the recall because their focus is on Black Friday sales, with the biggest shopping season of the year already underway.
If you're committed to buying your washing machine and dryer from Samsung, then you'll need to buy one of the front loading choices which might not have the capacity you want but maybe the stacked machines will give you more storage space in your laundry room.
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