My Frigidaire is on fire! Why won’t they clean up this mess?


When Cristal Flores’ refrigerator catches fire, she contacts the company to help her clean up the mess. When it won’t help her, she contacts me.

Question: I purchased a Frigidaire 26-cubic-foot Side-by-Side Refrigerator with Ice Maker a year and a half ago. It was our first Frigidaire product and we were very happy with it until last night, when we noticed a burning smell and smoke coming from the back of the unit.

We pulled the fridge out to find the cause of the smell, and after a few minutes the wires on the back of the fridge caught fire. No one was hurt, thank goodness, but we are very concerned that this could happen.

I contacted Frigidaire and have been told the appliance is outside of the one-year warranty. I was told we had to have the refrigerator looked at by an “approved” technician. I paid to have a technician come out and he verified the part that caught fire.

While he was working on it, the refrigerator began to smoke again. A representative told me that despite the product failure it is out of the one-year warranty. She offered to send out a replacement part for the one that caught fire, but only if we signed a release stating the company is not liable and that we will not share the form with anyone.

The company does not seem concerned about their appliance being dangerous. They have advised me to contact my homeowners insurance for help replacing the refrigerator. For your information, the model number is FFHS2611LB and the series number 4A53800089. I’ve called the company and been notified that there is no recall on the item. Is there anything the company can do to help us in this case? — Cristal Flores, Kyle, Texas


Answer: Frigidaire should have cleaned up the mess left behind by its flaming refrigerator, no question about it. Instead, it offered to replace a defective part, with you covering the cost of labor, and deferred responsibility for the cleanup to your insurance company. Come on.

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Even more troubling was Frigidaire’s insistence that you not tell anyone about the “settlement.” That makes it look as if they’re trying to cover up something.

Is it? As of now, there are no recalls on the unit you purchased. But if more customers come forward, it could happen. A combustible refrigerator is no trivial matter to government regulators.

Frigidaire has built a reputation on offering appliances that “make it easy for you to store, prepare and pull together great meals.” Of course, you can do none of the above in a refrigerator that’s melting before your very eyes. The company’s refusal to help on the grounds that your unit was a few weeks out of warranty was inexcusable. If a company wants to protect your reputation, it should stand behind its products. Especially when they spontaneously combust.

You could have contacted a manager at Frigidaire, which is owned by Electrolux. I list the names, numbers and email addresses on my consumer advocacy site.

I contacted Frigidaire on your behalf. Interestingly, the company would not put anything in writing — even with my team members and me as we tried to negotiate a resolution. A representative agreed to a resolution, as long as we didn’t reveal the outcome. Of course, I won’t obey any corporate gag order. But suffice it to say I wouldn’t be writing about this if my efforts were unsuccessful.

In the end, it didn’t even matter. You decided to reject the offer, noting that you believed the refrigerator was on the verge of being recalled. I agree with your decision. It’s time for a new refrigerator — and this time, maybe not a Frigidaire.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • DChamp56

    I found this story in multiple places on the web.. seems she’s posted about it in other places too.
    Due to it being a fire safety issue, it would have been nice of them to replace the defective part, but I would never have trusted this fridge ever again.

  • Larry Pratt

    Having just dealt with Whirlpool, the parent company over 2 Maytag appliances (washer and dryer), that failed to work on day one, I am not surprised. It took over 2 weeks to resolve the issues, including being told by their contracted repair service that they would not come out and repair the dryer despite the parts being in, until they could also repair the washer, a week later. An email to the company went unanswered.
    These corparations do not care about the consumer in any form, shape or manner.

  • Annie M

    What government entity should be notified about this? There must be others in the same boat who might have a fire hazard on their hands and might not be home or asleep if theirs catch on fire.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    Once upon a time, the word in Hebrew for refrigerator was “frigidaire” (well the word commonly used, not mekarer, the “official” word). Now I guess the word fire will have to be appended to the brand.

  • joycexyz

    The only way to make them “care” is to publicize these failures and wait for sales to go down. A terrible state of affairs.

  • Gary K

    https://www.recalls.gov/

    It’s sort of a clearinghouse for various government agencies which are involved with recalls. This case looks like it would be for the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission) as the Consumer Products tab specifically mentions appliances.

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