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Call Kurtis: Should My Refrigerator Be Recalled?

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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We hear about product recalls all the time. A Placerville homeowner called Kurtis because he thinks his refrigerator should be included in an existing recall.

Sometimes a few companies make a number of fridges, under a number of brand names. Jim Donovan was convinced his fridge is the same type that’s been recalled under a different brand. And he wants to know why it hasn’t been recalled too.

“I woke up at 6:30 in the morning on the day I was to go to work and smelled that tell-tale electrical smell,” recalls Donovan.

He followed his nose to his Kenmore fridge.

“I opened the door, I noticed it was not cooling and I also listened that it was making a strange noise,” said Donovan.
He unplugged it right away and called the repair man, who eventually replaced two burnt parts; the compressor and relay.

Donovan found YouTube videos of fires relating to relays and found Maytag recalled 1.6 million fridges in 2009 for serious fire hazards relating to relays.

Maytag is owned by Whirlpool and Whirlpool made Donovan’s Kenmore fridge. So he wanted to know, should his fridge have been recalled too?

“I contacted Whirlpool directly and they said, ‘Sorry we can’t help you because the fridge is a Kenmore,” said Donovan.

So he complained to Sears, which sells Kenmore and eventually reaching the executive office.

“They paid for my repair and said, ‘Sorry, we can’t issue a recall, all we can do is tell Whirlpool,'” said Donovan.

“If a consumer lets us know that there has been a problem with a product that’s important information that down the line, can lead to a recall,” says Consumer Product Safety Commission Spokesperson Patty Davis.

Davis couldn’t talk specifically about this case, but says anyone with a safety concern about a kitchen appliance should complain through saferproducts.gov.

“So you can see if you have an appliance that has been recalled, number one, or number two, there have been other consumers that have been reporting incidents about it,” said Davis.

Donovan did file a complaint and found a few others have also complained about Kenmore fridge relay fires.
Whirlpool told CBS13:

Product quality and consumer safety are among Whirlpool Corporation’s top priorities. Whirlpool Corp. builds its refrigerators with state-of-the-art safety features. This Kenmore refrigerator was not part of the Maytag refrigerator recall. The relay on the Kenmore refrigerator is designed differently and behaves differently. As is our protocol, Whirlpool would like to contact the consumer directly to request that we ship the refrigerator to our labs for review. Only then can we understand the nature of this reported incident. As always, we encourage consumers to contact us directly if they experience any difficulty with our products at 1-866-698-2538.

– Kristine Vernier
Whirlpool Corporation spokesperson.

Whirlpool owns Maytag now but they bought the company after the recalled refrigerators were made.

As far as we know no recall is in the works for Donovan’s fridge, but he still thinks his model may pose a fire hazard.

“Fires should not occur inside a house except in a fireplace,” said Donovan.

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