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Samsung’s latest recall: Washing machines that can burst apart

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Samsung is recalling 2.8 million washing machines that can vibrate violently or burst apart.
(AFP/Getty Images)

Samsung on Friday announced a formal recall of 34 models of its top-load washing machines more than a month after the U.S. government first issued a warning that the machines were unsafe.

The washers can become dangerous when washing bulky items, such as comforters, which can cause the machines to vibrate violently or even burst apart. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, listed the recall, saying that Samsung has received 733 reports of faulty machines. Nine resulted in injuries, including a “broken jaw, injured shoulder, and other impact or fall-related injuries,” the agency said.

Customer complaints submitted to the government described washers that exploded and lodged debris in walls, levitated or ripped sockets from their screws. The recall includes an estimated 2.8 million washers sold between March 2011 and November 2016. A full list of the affected models is online. Front-load washers are not included in the recall.

The CPSC first issued a warning about the washers in late September, while Samsung was dealing with the massive recall of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, which was prone to exploding as a result of faulty batteries. After recalling its initial batch of devices and issuing replacements, the company had to issue a second stage of the recall when the replacement phones also began catching fire.

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The close timing of the two faulty product issues raised questions about whether consumers would start to doubt the general safety of Samsung products.

Samsung is offering a few remedies to those who bought faulty washing machines. Those affected by the recall can elect to have a technician come to their home to reinforce their machines at no cost. That also comes with a one-year extension of the manufacturer’s warranty.

Those who have purchased a new washer in the last 30 days can get a full refund. But this is not an issue that only affects new washers; many of the complaints Samsung received indicate that the machines worked for years without incident before exploding.

Users may also opt for a rebate toward the purchase of a new washer, which can be another Samsung product or from another brand. The value of those rebates will be determined by the age of the washer and its model. Those who choose to get another Samsung washer will get an additional $150.

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Until users make their decision, they are advised to wash bulky items only on the delicate or waterproof cycles. Samsung is also sending affected customers a “Home Label Kit” describing these safety measures, which can be stuck to the washers.

Samsung is cleaning up the last stages of its smartphone recall, which it estimated will cost as much as $5.3 billion. In an attempt to catch holdouts who still have the faulty phone, the firm recently started discontinuing network service for the phones in some parts of the world, such as New Zealand. It has not announced similar plans in the United States.

 Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for the Washington Post. 


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