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Countless complaints filed against Samsung over appliance malfunction: 'This has been a systemic, ongoing problem'

"It's shocking and a disservice to the community that a recall has not been announced."

"It's shocking and a disservice to the community that a recall has not been announced."

Photo Credit: iStock

Samsung fridges are having a day. All day every day, apparently.

What's happening? 

Customers inundated the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission with complaints about the electronics and appliance company's refrigerators in 2022 and 2023, according to a USA Today investigation published in October.

According to a chart created by the news outlet, the CPSC fielded a record 679 grievances about all kinds of fridges in 2022 — the most annually against any appliance since record-keeping began in 2011. Samsung appliances accounted for 467, or about 68.8%. The overall number of complaints dropped to 255 from January 2023 through September 2023, but Samsung still accounted for 70.2% of them.

Customers noted faulty temperature sensors and ice buildup prohibited proper cooling, spoiling their food, breast milk, and medication, USA Today reported.

The outlet noted another investigation it had published less than a year prior showed the company's fridges were the cause of record filings beginning in 2020. Samsung is an outsize source of angst since it accounts for its high percentage of complaints but only 23% of refrigerators sold in the year prior to the more recent USA Today report. The company is the defendant in a class action lawsuit filed in 2022 that argues it "knew the refrigerators failed to maintain safe temperatures before they were sold," per the outlet.

Why is this concerning?

No warnings or recalls have been issued despite problems with "temperature fluctuations, food spoilage and subsequent stomach ailments, and extra money spent on repairs or new refrigerators," per USA Today.

The outlet pointed out that critics of the CPSC say it is unable to keep up with investigations and negotiations with companies. "Red tape and regulatory hurdles delay product recalls or warnings even as consumer complaints pile up, leaving unsafe products to remain available for months or even years," it stated.

In theory, CPSC can warn consumers about problems in as little as 20 days, but companies can slow or halt the process by going to court.

"This has been a systemic, ongoing problem that Samsung is well aware of but continues to ignore," one consumer wrote, per USA Today, of a refrigerator temperature display that was off by 20 degrees on the cooler side.

"It's shocking and a disservice to the community that a recall has not been announced."

What can be done?

Irresponsible corporate practices harm consumers, of course, costing them time and money. The planet suffers too, as the valuable resources that are necessary to manufacture fridges and other appliances become waste before their time, contributing to the overflowing of landfills.

Especially for products that cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, it should be years if not decades until they need to be repaired or replaced.

This and similar issues spotlight corporate accountability. People can push companies to make sustainable choices, punishing them with their buying power, but businesses must also act if we are to find a path to a better future.

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