Burn Out: Samsung to face possible NSW coronial inquiry

Consumer and safety forces line-up against global brand.

The two Sydney women, Tarnya Allen and Di Fisher (pictured below) at the heart of a Facebook campaign to expose the dangers within the Samsung Washing Machine Recall are now pushing for a state coronial inquiry into the company’s execution of the recall. They also have the Department of Fair Trading in their sights, claiming it also didn’t competently handle the recall.

Ms Allen told Appliance Retailer last week that they had been successful in persuading the NSW Coroner to investigate the fires caused by the faulty Samsung washing machines.

“The State Coroner will shortly announce a coronial inquiry into the Samsung washing machine recall based on the work of our group,” she said

According to Allen, Fire and Rescue NSW is able to use powers under the Fire Brigades Act to activate a state coronial inquiry – whether or not someone has died.

 

In an interview with FairfaxMedia, consumer affairs editor Esther Han, assistant commissioner Mark Whybro said, “Our fire investigators are currently reviewing Samsung-related incidents for those which may be suitable for investigation by the Coroner. A referral has not as yet been made.”

As previously reported by Appliance Retailer, both Ms Allen and Ms Fisher are the spirited founders of the Facebook group of affected machine owners which has consistently agitated for action to be taken against Samsung.

Although they centred their request on the case of a repaired unit they say caused $270,000 worth of damage a New Lambton house in August, they told Fairfax that Fire and Rescue NSW was not only going to refer that fire, but also expand the scope and refer all fires caused by the Samsung machines.

This can’t be swept under the carpet any longer. My two children’s lives were at risk. We’ll also be asking the State Coroner to explore the failure of Fair Trading NSW to competently manage the recall,” Ms Allen told Fairfax.

Tarnya-Allen

Meanwhile, consumer advocacy group Choice said it was concerned at reports Samsung will have to physically check around 32,000 “repaired” top loader washing machines following widespread consumer concern about the veracity of the fix.

“Not only have Samsung refused to alert consumers to the risk their products present through television advertising, this news confirms it has also presided over a questionable nationwide repair process,” Choice’s head of media Tom Godfrey said.

“Given Samsung has known about problems with the repair process for at least a year, we need Samsung to come clean and explain what ‘mistakes’ have led to 32,000 repaired machines needing to be physically reassessed.

“We believe Samsung should cease reworking faulty machines until an independent and transparent review of the rework solution is undertaken.

“Choice is also calling on Samsung to notify all customers who have had the rework that they have a right to a refund, replacement or repair.

“If this right wasn’t disclosed to customers at the time of the repair we believe they should be allowed to have their reworked machine refunded or replaced at no penalty,” Godfrey added.

“When a product has a ‘major’ failure under Australian Consumer Law, it is the consumer’s decision as to whether or not they get a repair, replacement or a refund. When it comes to these top loaders, our advice remains that consumers should push for a refund.

“We get the very real sense that this company cares more about managing its reputation than it does about protecting consumers from its dodgy products,” Godfrey claimed.

“It is concerning that for the first two years of the recall, Samsung proactively pushed consumers into this repair instead of a refund or replacement, and this involved installing a fire-retardant plastic bag over the electrical connectors.

“While some consumers have exercised their right to a refund or replacement, following guidance from Samsung, the vast majority of machines caught up in the recall have been repaired,” Godfrey added.

Last year, Choice dramatically crushed two Samsung washing machines to propel the potential hazard onto the nation’s TV screens and launched a crowd funding campaign to create a television advertisement to warn consumers.

The decision to crowd fund the television advertisement came following research which found 47% of consumers expected to see or hear about recalls through television advertising.

A Samsung spokesperson declined to comment on the State Coroner matter. There have been 27 post-rework incidents, including two fires.

 

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