When Companies Don’t Care – The Story of my LG Fridge Fire Failure
On Friday, June 28th, at about 11:30pm, my wife went to put her drink in the fridge before we got in bed. When she opened the fridge, she was greeted with a burnt plastic smell. It took her a second to realize that along with that smell, the metal light holder and control box for our refrigerator was melting and hanging by a long strand of melted plastic.
After calling me over, I went to touch the plastic and found it to be hot. We also realized that the food on the top shelf was very warm to the touch, with the food directly under the light very hot.
We pried the plastic control box down and found that the lights underneath were on and extremely hot. Right about this time, the fridge beeped to let us know we’d kept the doors open for too long. We shut the doors and at the last second, noticed something: the lights stayed on even when the interior door buttons were pressed.
After clearing out the food underneath the light, I proceeded to start taking the light bulbs out of their sockets. They were extremely hot to the touch and I had to use oven mitts to grab them and get them out.
I found a lot more melting when I started to look closer.
The metal light holder had melted the plastic control box away from it. I was able to just slide the control box down, since the plastic connector to the inner liner had also melted.
After getting the control box down, I noticed that the metal light holder had melted the inner liner of the fridge and was stuck against it. I was able to gently pry it off when I was greeted with another sight.
The inner liner had not only deformed and melted, but it also had a couple of new holes due to the burn that exposed it to the outer core of the fridge.
Upon inspecting the sockets, we also found both of them to be burned pretty badly.
At this point, we were comfortable with the hypothesis that the lights being stuck on was what contributed to this disaster. We were actually very grateful that my wife decided to put her drink in the fridge. If we would’ve just gone to bed, this would’ve had the whole night to get worse and eventually start a full fire in my kitchen.
With the lights being disconnected, we closed the fridge and stayed up for another hour. Upon checking the fridge again, we found everything to be operating normally – just without a light.
I reached out to LG support that night and went to bed.
The Next Day
The next morning, much to my surprise, LG responded to me despite it being a weekend.
I felt relieved that they were willing to send someone out to inspect our fridge. We had purchased it in 2007 and were concerned about it being out of warranty, but this is something more than a warranty claim. Our fridge almost caught fire.
I work in Engineering for my day job. Things fail. That’s expected. We work hard to make sure that when something fails, it fails gracefully. Getting hot enough to start melting and potentially cause a fire is not a graceful failure.
The LG tech reached out to me pretty quickly the following week and I sent some pictures to him to show him the damage. He mentioned that he can order the parts, but it’s going to take a week to get here. We set an appointment for Saturday, July 6th.
That Saturday, the LG technician arrived at my house. He opened a box of parts and inside of it was a plastic light cover. He mentioned that the plastic cover was all he was authorized to replace, and that if we wanted the control box, he’d have to order it and we’d have to pay a bit over $300. He offered to just plug the lights back in and replace the plastic cover.
This, obviously, wasn’t a good solution. All it would lead to is another melted fridge. The plastic light cover was barely damaged, and I was unsure as to why it was even being replaced. He agreed that the fridge had significant damage and almost did start a fire, but there was nothing he could do.
That evening, I reached out to LG’s social media group on Facebook. Social Media support teams are good to get in touch with since you will often get a human being. LG’s team was responsive and responded back initially, regularly asking me if the tech had showed up. After I explained what happened after he arrived, they responded back with “We will see if we are able to reach out to the tech to get this info and follow up.”
They never followed up with me, despite reaching back out to them again.
At this point, my wife and I were pretty frustrated. I decided to try and reach out to the LG Executive team, as I’d heard that could be effective. On July 13th, I sent an email to Jennifer Blake, who is their Executive Services Team Manager. I received no response.
Class Action Lawsuit
Upon doing some research, I found out that LG had a Class Action Lawsuit related to this. The details can be found at this link. The lawsuit was concluded in 2012 and you were required to file paperwork by then. We were never notified of any kind of recall, so we weren’t even aware that this was an issue.
The LG Electronics settlement will resolve a class action lawsuit, entitled Connie McLennan v. LG Electronics USA, Inc., that alleges the interior lights on some of its LG and Kenmore refrigerator models remain on when the refrigerator doors are closed, resulting in overheating, food spoilage, melted plastic, and even fire. LG Electronics denies any wrongdoing, but has agreed to resolve the litigation through a class action lawsuit settlement.https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/1484-lg-kenmore-french-door-refrigerator-class-action-settlement/
I mentioned the Class Action to the support team, but again, no response.
It’s now been almost a month since our fridge caught fire and we’ve made no progress. The fridge still cools our food, but we have no light in there to see and we have a faulty control box that all things considered, is likely getting worse. What else is going to go wrong and fail poorly? What’s going to cause the next fire?
I wanted to write this article not just to get the word out there about the crappy support I’ve gotten, but to also highlight an important fact: when we rely on our devices for our day to day lives, we also rely a lot on the companies that support them. We need to consider that when we choose what smart home devices we use. This is the first time I’ve been burned (no pun intended) by customer support. There’s no way I can match up with a multi-national, billion dollar company. The only thing I can do is vote with my wallet.
LG makes awesome TV’s. Last weekend, we were ready to upgrade from my 12 year old 42″ Samsung. I researched TV’s and found some good reviews on the LG models, but my experience with them has soured me. I went with a Samsung QLED 65″ TV (which btw, is an amazing device, and I will be reviewing it soon). When we replace this fridge, we will also stay away from LG.
It’s not much, but it’s our way of fighting back against LG..
July 22nd Update
Yesterday, I sent a message to LG support on Facebook asking for an update. They responded back that the best they can do is a 20% rebate on a new fridge. I don’t want to give them more money, so I’ve declined.
July 25th Update
Happy to report that LG has reached out and offered to fix the fridge. An appointment has been set for this Monday.