HOUSTON – When you purchase a refrigerator, you expect it to keep your food cold for years. Millions of consumers who purchased Kenmore fridges made with LG parts are finding out the hard way that’s not always the case. Their expensive appliances are failing after just two to three years.
KPRC 2 Investigates is uncovering alleged defects the companies have known about since at least 2013.
That is the year consumers filed the first class action lawsuit against LG over refrigerators built with the company’s “smart cooling system” and linear compressors. Years later, the company is still installing the same defective compressors in Kenmore refrigerators.
Fridges just stop cooling
Feeding April Dailey’s family of six takes a fully stocked fridge. For now, she’s using a small refrigerator in her garage that she got for free online from a neighbor. Her triple door smart Kenmore Elite refrigerator she bought two and a half years ago stopped cooling. Even though the digital read-out on the fridge says her refrigerator is 33 degrees inside, an actual thermometer reveals it is actually 64 degrees.
Warranty says customers must pay for repairs
When she called Sears Repair Center, they sent out a third-party repair company who told her the LG compressor in her fridge needs to be replaced. The good news is the compressor is covered under the warranty. The bad news? The labor to put it in is not covered. That would cost April at least $500.
“That just wasn’t an option for us,” Dailey said. “I just don’t have that money right now.”
Dailey already spent $2,249 when she bought the refrigerator in 2018. About a year ago, she paid $380 to repair the ice maker that stopped working. Even if she did pay the money to replace the LG compressor, the chances are good that the new one will stop working in 2 to 3 years. Sears and LG know that.
LG and Sears knew about the alleged defect
A class-action lawsuit against LG is pending right now over this exact issue. LG settled two class actions alleging its refrigerators were defective because of cooling problems with its compressors.
While it paid consumers for damages in those cases, it did not admit any wrongdoing continued to use the same compressors in Kenmore refrigerators like April’s.
“That’s kind of, I guess, shady,” said Dailey. “I mean, a big corporation like that should be able to retract products and you know, take care of their consumers.”
When we reached out to Sears, a spokesperson sent this statement:
“At Sears, the satisfaction of our members and customers is our top priority. Regarding the Dailey customer - we have provided responsive service on several occasions and they have opted to forego the repair because they did not want to pay the charges they were obligated to pay. It is important to note that the manufacturer’s warranty covers the part and it specifically notes that labor is not covered. We contacted the Daileys today to explain this and we arranged to repair their refrigerator this afternoon under the terms of their warranty. Our lead refrigeration technician completed the replacement of the compressor this afternoon and all is operating properly.”
Sears wouldn’t answer questions about penidng litigation, and the spokesperson referred our questions about the LG compressor inside the Kenmore fridge to LG.
“They’re selling bad products, and they need to take care of their customers,” said Dailey. “Someone needs to pay because we’ve already paid.”
After we reached out to Sears, Dailey told us a technician came out to her home and replaced the compressor for free. However, just as Sears told KPRC 2 News, that is not standard and labor is typically not covered under the warranty.
What can customers do?
The squeaky wheel gets the oil. We have seen evidence that Sears does cover the labor and the parts when consumers push the issue. That may mean escalating your issue and even filing in small claims court to get the repair covered.