Hey, Gree Electric Appliances, Where’s My Recalled Dehumidifier Refund?

greehumidifiersA few months ago, we reported that 2.2 million dehumidifiers sold under a variety of brands had been recalled after a few units sort of… started fires. Customers with affected units were to send back the unit’s name plate, dispose of it safely after cutting off the cord or otherwise rendering it unusable, then sit back and wait for their refund checks. And wait… and wait… and wait.

You probably had never heard of Gree Electronics before this recall, but everyone certainly has now. Their dehumidifiers were sold under more familiar brand names to Americans like Frigidaire, De’Longhi, and Kenmore.

Reader Deborah wrote to us earlier today, complaining that Gree seems to be sitting on her refund. “When I called the recall hotline, the woman there informed me that the two to six weeks was the timeline after processing and before the mailing of the check, and that no one knew how long processing would take,” she writes. The company’s own recall FAQ explains how long this processing is supposed to take quite clearly, but the key words there are “supposed to.” Gree’s site says:

You will be reimbursed once your name plate sticker, the power cord and plug, and the warning sticker from the power cord are returned and your return kit has been processed. Please allow 2-6 weeks from the receipt of your return to receive your reimbursement.

Do you see any mysterious “processing” time included there? We don’t.

This is what Deborah wants to know: have any other owners of recalled dehumidifiers received their checks, and within the expected time frame? Her own online search didn’t turn up very encouraging news. The consumer reporter at WSYR in Syracuse, N.Y. helped out a local woman with the same problem as Deborah. That viewer had been waiting for two months for her check.

When the TV station contacted Gree on her behalf, they learned that her check had apparently already been processed. The magic words “TV reporter” had apparently unlocked the company’s processing apparatus and made Gree “expedite” the check, which had already been printed and was sitting around.

We made some calls and are waiting to hear back from Stericycle, the medical waste and recall management firm that Gree hired to handle this recall. We’ll update this post or give you a whole new update when we find something out.

And if you’re a customer affected by the recall and did get your check already, we want to hear from you! Drop us a line at tips@consumerist.com so we can reassure Deborah.

Update, 4/25/14 – Yep, customers are still having problems. If you’re wondering about your refund and are tired of the saxophone tunes that the recall hotline plays while you sit on hold, give the Consumer Products Safety Commission a call at 800-638-2772.

Where’s my refund on my recalled dehumidifier: The Real Deal [WSYR]

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Gree Electric Appliances Recalls 2.2 Million Dehumidifiers Because Fire Is Worse Than Humidity

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  1. webalias says:

    I haven’t received my check for my fire-prone Soleus — though I’m not going to be all that thrilled when and if I do. “Consumers will receive full refunds, the company said.” Gree is simply not telling the truth. In fact, Gree’s idea of a “full refund” has nothing to do with the commonly understood meaning of the phrase.

    Yes, the company claims you’ll get a full refund, and the CPSC web site says the same. But Gree never tells you how much they’ll actually refund you. And in the “kit” they send out, and on their web site, there’s no mention of any specific amount. And no, they don’t want to see your receipt. If you call them and ask, you may get several contradictory statements from different reps. But eventually you may learn that your “full refund” is going to be less than 90% of what you actually paid (of course, I’m not even counting shipping or tax) — and that’s if you bought your dehumidifier from Amazon, where you probably paid less than you’d have paid elsewhere.

    On what does Gree base their fuzzy math? According to the Gree rep I talked with last: what the purchaser of the product paid Amazon or any other retailer is irrelevant to what constitutes a “full refund,” since Amazon was free to charge me whatever it wished. The Gree rep volunteered that if I had bought the product from Sears, I would be reimbursed — not for what I paid Sears, but for what Sears paid Gree.

    This, according to Gree, is the “retail price” — certainly a novel definition of the term, one not to be found in any dictionary.

    So, in essence, Gree is reimbursing consumers for the “wholesale” price, leaving them to eat the difference. And the CPSC is letting them get away with it.

    But it gets worse.

    Gree won’t take their fire-hazards back; you just cut off the cord and send it in. Then what? At least in my state and county, it is illegal, as it should be, to dispose of a dehumidifier in the trash. And, after numerous inquiries, I’ve determined that I’m also going to be stuck for a minimum $45 recycling fee — unless I choose to store this piece of junk in my basement, forever.

    I paid $227.30 to Amazon for my Soleus Model SG-DEH-70-2. Gree says it will send me a check for $202.50.That’s less than 90% of what I paid. If one factors in the recycling fee, my “full refund” is less than 75 percent of what I paid.

    If and when I get it.

    And that’s the Real Deal.

  2. dullard8 says:

    Insofar as disposal is concerned, it would seem that the defective unit could be taken to the local electronic disposal site. Check with your local municipality.

    As for the refund, check with the company who branded the product which was purchased, in this case Soleus. They should make up the difference as well as help expedite the refund. Liability for the defective product is not limited to the OEM.

    • webalias says:

      Thanks for the suggestion. But I did check on disposal — with my city, my county, our state Pollution Control Agency, my trash hauler, and private entities (including good old Best Buy) that will recycle certain electronics for free. There’s no way around it: in Ramsey County, MN, it will cost you at least $45 to legally dispose of a dehumidifier. As for Soleus, I’ve had back-and-forth conversations with both Soleus and Gree, and gotten nowhere (though I did learn that Soleus is suing Gree for $150 million for allegedly retaliating after it informed the government that the dehumidifiers are fire hazards). And frankly, at this point it’s not so much the money. I just don’t like being lied to: by Gree, or by my government (the CPSC), both of which are claiming customers are getting a full refund, when that is not the case, and they know it.