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Sound familiar? Samsung recalls 2.8 million washing machines

by Noah Kulwin
Nov 4 2016, 7:30am

It’s not just the phones.

On Friday, Samsung issued a voluntary recall of about 34 different models of washing machines — 2.8 million in total — whose “high-speed spin cycles” pose an injury risk. It’s the second major product recall for Samsung in six months.

The company recalled 2 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in September after multiple reports of the device causing a fire. That recall came after a failed attempt to fix the problem. Unlike last time, when the Korean electronics giant was criticized for not working with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission from the outset, this time the company is working with the feds.

“The voluntary action was driven by reports highlighting the risk that the drums in these washers may lose balance, triggering excessive vibrations, resulting in the top separating from the washer,” Samsung’s statement said. “This can occur when a high-speed spin cycle is used for bedding, water-resistant [items], or bulky items and presents an injury risk to consumers.”

In other words: Washing machines in a high-speed spin cycle are spinning so fast and vibrating so much that the top of the machine may pull apart from the rest of the unit. In late September, before the recall, the CPSC told consumers that they should only use the machine on the delicate cycle in order to stay safe.

According to the CPSC website, Samsung has gotten 733 reports of “excessive vibration” in the washing machines, and nine related injury reports, which include “a broken jaw, an injured shoulder, and other impact or fall-related injuries.”

Although the Note 7 recall attracted a lot more media attention, it was a much smaller scandal in terms of devices in circulation. The company said about 1 million units were affected by the September recall.

But after the Note 7 fiasco, journalists began reexamining Samsung’s record on recalls and other product safety issues. The New York Times looked at previous recalls of microwave ovens, refrigerators, and other products that left customers frustrated with the company.

In Australia in 2013, for example, consumers forced the company to recall and refund 144,000 faulty washing machines. The problem? The machines “were prone to catching fire as a result of an internal electrical defect.”

Though the washing machine recall affects millions of products, consumer appliances account for a small part of Samsung’s business. This past quarter, the consumer electronics division as a whole reported about $673 million, or 15 percent of the company’s operating profit. For comparison, Samsung’s smartphone and mobile business accounted for about 75 percent of the company’s profit at its peak, although the Note 7 recall caused that figure to fall to 1.9 percent last quarter.

If you have one of the affected washing machines, or if you think you do, you can find more information about safety precautions and how to get a refund at the CPSC website.