Agitator-free LG, Kenmore washers shaking up consumers

The machines vibrate, smell moldy and don't work very well, customers complain

Dawna Basha felt agitated and alone. Her family told her she was becoming obsessed about problems with her LG washing machine. "Get over it," they told her. The repairmen LG sent to her suburban Phoenix home told her she wasn't washing her clothes properly, but this didn't sound right to Basha.

"I'm 58 years old, I have four children and four grandchildren. I've done so many loads of laundry, I just know this machine's not right," she insisted.  

The machine was recalled in December 2012 but Basha said that didn't solve the problem. A repairman adjusted the machine and slapped on a sticker saying not to wash waterproof or water-resistant items in it but she said the machine still took forever to run through a cycle, smelled moldy and didn't get the clothes clean.   

Then Basha found ConsumerAffairs and learned that nearly 1,000 other consumers had posted comments and complaints about their LG washer, a sleek model that works without the agitator that has been a fixture in washing machines for as long as anyone can remember. 

The company calls this lack of an agitator "WaveForce technology" and says it "uses rapid drum movement and powerful water jets to provide a revolutionary washing and rinsing experience." It even brags about its "TrueBalance anti-vibration system" that it says reduces noise and vibration, an assertion many consumers might question.

Trouble since Day One

"The first time, I thought maybe it's not level or something," Basha said. "The machine shook and gave me all kind of signals that I didn't understand." Technicians came and went, each time telling Basha her floor wasn't level, she was putting the soap in the wrong place, and so forth. "It always something we're doing wrong," she said.

This would all sound pretty familiar to "L" of Fort White, Fla., who posted to ConsumerAffairs July 9, saying she too had gotten off on the wrong foot with her new LG washer.

"I did the first load which spewed soapy water on the floor. I did subsequent small loads with no overflow. The dispensers retain clear water after cycle completed. I contacted LG to question why the water remains in the dispensers and why the overflow. I was informed that I used too much soap which caused the overflow," L said. "This is my second LG, and I am no dummy. I know how to fill the soap dispenser to the 'normal' or 'max' levels."

L said the company service rep was very familiar with the issue: "We have already sent this numerous times to the designers," L said the rep told her. This didn't make L feel any better. "What? They know about the problem, continue to produce the product using the same improper guides in the manual?" she said.

Basha said her machine has already started to rust because of the water that remains after a load of wash is done. L asked the LG rep about the stagnant water as well.

She said the rep told her: "That is normal. The dispenser dispenses by overfilling the drawer, that is why there is water remaining at the end."

"Of course!" said L. "We all want stagnant water to sit in the drawer possibly turning moldy and smelly to be dispensed into the next load of wash! I am absolutely incredulous!"

About that recall

The December 2012 safety recall of 457,000 LG and Kenmore Elite washers didn't address the issues of clothes not getting clean or water remaining in the machine. Those aren't safety issues, after all. Rather, it was the result of reported instances of the machine shaking excessively, causing the drum to come loose, not something you'd expect in a machine with a "TrueBalance anti-vibration system."

LG said at the time that it had received 343 reports of the machines vibrating excessively, including 187 instances of property damage and one injury.

Technicians made adjustments and also plastered a sticker on the machines warning that consumers should not wash waterproof or water-resistant clothes.

"So now I have a washing machine in which I cannot even wash a mattress cover or my child's snowpants," said Carla Coker in a Facebook posting after reading about the recall on ConsumerAffairs. "I didn't pay good money for this machine so that I can hang out at the laundromat."

"I understand that things don't last very long these days," said Basha who paid $849 for her washer. "But if young people buy this, they're going to think clothes are supposed to come out smelling moldy. I have to wash my sheets and towels two or three times because I can smell them coming out of the machine."

LG did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.
Consumer Affairs

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