Spoiled food, water leaks: What to know about rising refrigerator safety complaints

When Americans complain about dangerous products to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, their No. 1 target is appliances, according to a USA TODAY analysis of more than a decade of data.

But in the past two years, an unprecedented spike in complaints focused on just one kind of appliance: refrigerators, mainly those made by Samsung.

As of July, the most recent month for complete data, consumers this year had registered 471 safety complaints related to refrigerators – the highest figure since such data was first published in 2011. That's five times the annual number of fridge complaints from just three years ago.

And Samsung owners comprised more than 3 out of 4 of all refrigerator safety complaints filed since 2020.

In a class action suit against Samsung, Plaintiff Matthew Jordan used a thermal imaging camera that he said shows unsafe temperature variations inside the refrigerator.
In a class action suit against Samsung, Plaintiff Matthew Jordan used a thermal imaging camera that he said shows unsafe temperature variations inside the refrigerator.

Samsung buyers cited malfunctioning ice makers, overfreezing in the ice compartment, water leakages, fire hazards, food spoilage, and multiple stomach-related ailments they blamed on refrigerators running above the temperature at which products can be safely stored.

Read the full investigation: Safety complaints surge, with most aimed at Samsung

Is there a Samsung recall?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has not issued any warning or recall.

But the agency confirmed this week that there is an ongoing investigation when it denied USA TODAY's request for records and correspondence concerning Samsung refrigerators over the past decade. The commission said disclosure would hinder its investigation.

The agency is under statutory restrictions that critics say can delay the process of warning consumers about products it has concluded are unsafe. Commission officials must first ensure that the information it plans to publish is accurate, notify the company, gather the company's comments, and negotiate corrective actions.

As a result, consumers would have to pull every fridge complaint in the commission’s online database to know how often problems have been reported by consumers of a given brand.

See recalled appliances: Search USA TODAY's consumer recalls database

Frustrated customers who said they got little to no response from Samsung formed a Facebook group with more than 106,800 members, called out the company on social media, filed lawsuits in local courts, and joined forces on multiple class action lawsuits.

Many still have not been compensated for buying Samsung refrigerators they describe as defective.

What does Samsung say about the complaints?

When USA TODAY reached out to Samsung about the complaints, the company’s spokesperson asked reporters for information about customers who shared their experiences with the news organization.

“Since our request for specific customer details was declined here,” Samsung said in a statement, “we are unable to comment further on any specific experiences referenced.”

The company defended the quality of its products and said that “millions of consumers across the United States enjoy and rely on their Samsung refrigerators each day. We stand behind the quality, innovation, and performance of our appliances, as well as our industry-recognized customer support. Samsung refrigerators also include a best-in-class warranty, including a 2-year icemaker warranty, 10-year compressor warranty, and 5-year sealed system warranty.”

See which name-brand appliances have the most consumer complaints

Check out USA TODAY databases to see if consumers are complaining about your refrigerator model or other appliances found in your home. 

Searchable database: Home appliance brands with customer safety complaints

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Samsung refrigerator safety complaints surge. Here’s what we know