One of the biggest appliance manufacturers in the country, with nine U.S. factories including five in Ohio, is out millions after mishandling a serious defect with some of its products.
For Similar Content: Subscribe to Daily Newsletters
Whirlpool, which is based in Benton Harbor, Michigan, has agreed to pay an $11.5 million civil settlement. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the company failed to immediately report issues with 17 models of its JennAir, KitchenAid, and Whirlpool brand electric radiant heat cooktops. The appliances contained a defect that made them turn on by themselves, creating a serious risk for fire and injury.
The CPSC said that beginning in November 2017, Whirlpool received several consumer reports about cooktop surface elements turning on by themselves and, despite possessing enough information to reasonably support the claims, did not immediately report to the Commission.
By the time Whirlpool filed an initial report, the company had received at least 157 reports of cooktops going rogue, including 14 reports of property damage, four reports of objects igniting, and two reports of minor burns. Whirlpool eventually issued a recall of the cooktops, which impacted more than 26,000 products, on August 28, 2019.
In addition to the payment, the settlement puts Whirlpool on the hook to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act. The company also agreed to submit for three years annual reports regarding its compliance program, internal controls, and internal audits of the effectiveness of compliance policies, procedures, systems, and training.
American consumers should never have to worry that products in their homes will turn on without warning and ignite a fire. To avoid that, companies have to report to CPSC immediately when they know of such risks. The agency charged that Whirlpool didn’t...for years; it waited to report the problem until after 157 incident reports, including burns and damage,” said CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka. “Today, we act to hold Whirlpool accountable for ignoring safety and hiding information its customers needed to protect themselves.”