DALLAS - He didn't get the interview, but he may have moved the needle.
Consumer Reporter Steve Noviello first told you about failing fridges from Samsung last year. Now, a federal consumer safety group seems to be stepping up.
Noviello received an email on Jan. 19, 2022, from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal agency designed to protect all of us "from unreasonable risk of serious injury from thousands of products." They were updating their media list and wanted to know if we needed anything.
Noviello was instantly reminded of people like Ruth-Anne McDonald of Roanoke who for years was trying to get her faulty Samsung refrigerator fixed.
You may recall FOX 4’s report from last year. McDonald’s ice maker was freezing over, the unit was leaking and the interior temperature of her fridge kept food at conditions unsafe for consumption, despite what the temperature was set to.
At FOX 4’s request, Samsung quickly sent out a technician and refunded McDonald her roughly $3,000 purchase price.
ORIGINAL STORY: On Your Side: Faulty Samsung Fridge
At the time, Samsung wouldn't grant FOX 4 an interview, despite granting us access many times before when discussing other products.
And we couldn't believe that a recall wasn't issued after we discovered more than 50,000 members of an online support group who shared their own similar stories of fridge fires, floods and spoiled food.
Dozens told FOX 4 they had complained to — you guessed it — the Consumer Product Safety Commission or CPSC, the very same agency now offering us their help.
But as soon as FOX 4 sent them our report, CPSC went from "How can we help?" to "Here is our statement."
Twice they denied FOX 4’s request for an on-camera interview about the years of complaints they have cataloged on Samsung refrigerators.
CPSC wouldn't say much except, "CPSC does send field investigators out to inspect products based on consumer complaints or media reports." That was on Jan. 28.
Then suddenly in San Bernardino, California, a phone call came to Amy Ruiz who last summer had sent a complaint about her failing Samsung fridge to the CPSC but never got a reply.
"I thought, why am I not hearing any concern? Not even an email addressing it?" she wondered.
The phone call was from an agent from the CPSC who wanted to meet.
"I was shocked that finally someone contacted me," Ruiz said.
Within weeks, the CPSC sent a field agent to Ruiz’s home. They visited for more than an hour. She says she shared about her own fridge failures and about the fires, the food going bad and the Facebook group that, since FOX 4’s first story aired, has swelled from 50,000 to 100,000 members.
"She seemed shocked, like ‘Wow, I didn't realize it was that bad,’" Ruiz said.
"Why do you think it is that a field representative would be the least bit surprised by this information as if it were new?" Noviello asked.
"Because she said it is new on her desk, from what she told me. She said all of a sudden from higher up, they are now pushing like we need to start investigating," Ruiz said. "So I think it is just the initial stages of finally looking into it. I'm sure this probably just started in the end of January when I was contacted."
It would appear that while we didn't get the CPSC interview, we did seem to get their attention.
As for Samsung, they're still not talking. They have again denied FOX 4’s request for an on-camera interview and have not addressed the specific questions we asked them.
Instead, Samsung sent FOX 4 a statement that points to their "best in class" warranty praised by consumer index groups and a number for customer service.
While Samsung isn't talking to FOX 4, they are talking.
FOX 4 has learned that Samsung Vice President of Customer Affairs Chris Kim just last week flew out to meet face-to-face with the admin of that 100,000+ member Facebook group. It’s the same group that has guided members through the process of getting Samsung to refund more than $9 million to refrigerator owners — albeit very quietly.
"Samsung Refrigerator Recall USA Now" Facebook Group