New headache for Sam­sung: 3 mil­lion wash­ing ma­chines

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Brandon Bai­ley

In an­other black eye for one of the world’s lead­ing con­sumer brands, U.S. au­thor­i­ties an­nounced a re­call Fri­day of nearly 3 mil­lion Sam­sung wash­ing ma­chines fol­low­ing sev­eral re­ports of in­juries — in­clud­ing a bro­ken jaw — due to “ex­ces­sive vi­bra­tion.”

The re­call comes a month after the South Korean man­u­fac­turer re­called mil­lions of its Galaxy Note 7 smart­phones from con­sumers around the world, be­cause of a mys­te­ri­ous prob­lem that caused the phones’ bat­ter­ies to over­heat and catch fire. Since then, the com­pany stopped pro­duc­ing that de­vice en­tirely, while es­ti­mat­ing the de­ba­cle will cost it $5.3 bil­lion.

Sam­sung said Fri­day that its wash­ing ma­chine re­call would also ex­tend to models sold in Canada, although it said no in­juries had been re­ported in that coun­try.

The com­pany launched an ear­lier, un­re­lated re­call of wash­ing ma­chines in Aus­tralia in 2013, after au­thor­i­ties said an elec­tri­cal prob­lem in cer­tain models was caus­ing fires. Aus­tralian au­thor­i­ties last year called that prob­lem “a ma­jor safety fail­ure,” after re­ceiv­ing com­plaints that the com­pany was of­fer­ing re­pairs but not a re­fund or re­place­ment, as re­quired by Aus­tralian law.

The cur­rent re­call comes after weeks of dis­cus­sions be­tween Sam­sung and U.S. au­thor­i­ties about re­ports that the drums in cer­tain top-load­ing wash­ing ma­chine models can be­come un­bal­anced and cause se­vere vi­bra­tion, in some cases caus­ing the top of the ma­chine to de­tach from the chas­sis.

Sam­sung was hit with a law­suit over the sum­mer by at­tor­neys rep­re­sent­ing con­sumers in Texas, In­di­ana and Ge­or­gia who say their wash­ing ma­chines “ex­ploded” while be­ing used.

In a state­ment Fri­day , the U.S. Con­sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion cited 733 re­ports of Sam­sung ma­chines that ex­pe­ri­enced “ex­ces­sive” vi­bra­tion and nine re­lated re­ports of in­juries, in­clud­ing a bro­ken jaw and an in­jured shoul­der.

Sam­sung said the prob­lem oc­curred when a high­speed spin cy­cle was used to wash bed­ding or other bulky items. In a state­ment, the com­pany’s U.S. sub­sidiary said it’s work­ing with re­tail­ers and the com­mis­sion to in­form con­sumers about the prob­lem.

“Our pri­or­ity is to re­duce any safety risks in the home and to pro­vide our cus­tomers with easy and sim­ple choices in re­sponse to the re­call,” said John Her­ring­ton, a Sam­sung se­nior vice pres­i­dent, in the state­ment.

Sam­sung is one of the world’s lead­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers of home ap­pli­ances, smart­phones and other tech prod­ucts, in­clud­ing bat­ter­ies and mem­ory chips.

In the cur­rent re­call, the com­pany is of­fer­ing con­sumers a choice be­tween a free re­pair and a re­bate to­ward the pur­chase of a new wash­ing ma­chine. Con­sumers who pur­chased an af­fected model in the last 30 days are be­ing of­fered a full re­fund.

The re­call af­fects 34 models of top-load­ing wash­ing ma­chines man­u­fac­tured be­tween 2011 and this year. They were sold at Best Buy, The Home De­pot, Lowes, Sears and other stores for prices be­tween $450 and $1,500.

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