If you woke up on Christmas morning to find a shiny, new home appliance beneath the tree, you must have had a gargantuan Christmas tree. Also, beware – your Christmas gift could maim or even kill you.
Early indications are this was the best Christmas shopping season since 2011 and along with those sales will come the subsequent returns of malfunctioning items. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is the federal watchdog for consumer safety. It routinely focuses on toy safety at this time of year and its current recall list does include a bicycle (Brompton brand; a bracket poses a fall hazard) and kids’ pee-jays (Bass Pro Shops Wohali Outdoors brand; they’re flammable!). But, a spate of recent home appliance troubles might be its most pressing concern. Yours too if your gift-giver passed on that diamond bracelet in favor of a Bosch dishwasher.
If your new kitchen appliance is a Bosch, Gaggenau, Jenn-Air or Thermador dishwasher, it might be one of nearly a half-million recalled in 2017 over fire concerns. The problem – a power cord that might overheat and catch fire – was the reason for an initial recall in 2015. The 2017 recall simply expands on that one.
Last fall, Samsung – at that time, still smarting from their Galaxy Note 7 smartphone fiasco - recalled 3 million top-loading washing machines. The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an alert just ahead of Christmas 2016 that said the tops of the machines would suddenly detach. That description sounds benign next to a Georgia homeowner’s, who described their machine’s malfunction akin to “a bomb going off.” Since cautious homeowners (and potential plaintiffs) caught the act on film for YouTube posterity (and court evidence), you can judge for yourself whether the problem is a detachment or explosion.
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Did you invest in a portable generator after the horrors of Harvey? If you did and the brand you chose was Honda, about 30,000 of its EB2800i models were recalled last week because of a carburetor issue which can result in fire and burn hazards. Maybe your new Saber gas grill was already on your outdoor deck Christmas morning, with a shiny bow atop it? About 20,000 were recalled in 2017 due to gas leak and subsequent fire concerns. Perhaps Santa brought you an Academy crawfish cooking kit, just in time for crawfish season? About 21,000 were recently recalled because the gadget’s hose can melt and create a burn or fire hazard. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
This is hardly a new issue, particularly for Samsung which, going back to 2003, had microwaves and refrigerators recalled. And around this time, the big focus for the commission is toys. Who can forget that a couple of years ago the hottest toys to be recalled were hoverboards? Aside from being a misnomer, they were also a safety menace known to spontaneously burst into flames like the fellow on the cover of that one Pink Floyd album.
All of this is a way to remind that the recalls should be taken seriously. According to Consumer Reports, only about 10 percent of all recalls are heeded annually. It’s just inconvenient to haul something back to the store. It’s even more taxing if the item is a few-hundred-pounds home appliance.
If all this riles your nerves, check the cpsc.gov recalls page for information on what’s been scrutinized and recalled; or, maybe just pour yourself a drink to calm down. Just don’t pour it into a Libbey Glass bourbon snifter. About 230,000 were recalled just after Thanksgiving for laceration hazards.