Earlier this week, we shared a note from a reader who sent away for a refund when her dehumidifier was part of a massive recall because dehumidifiers aren’t supposed to catch fire. She wondered why her refund check was taking so long to arrive, and got even more confusing information when she called the recall hotline. Could we help? We could try.
We knew that many readers owned the dehumidifiers in question, so we put out a call: had any other people who had sent away for their refunds received their checks yet?
Here are our utterly unscientific statistics. Readers were waiting for refunds on thirty dehumidifiers. (Some correspondents had more than one dehumidifier, or had taken care of the refund paperwork for a neighbor or relative.) Of these, nine refunds had already been sent, or the readers us know that they had received the checks after writing to Consumerist about it. Twenty-one refunds were still outstanding, but it sounds like the checks are hitting the mail this week.
Some readers were pretty distressed about the situation. Dehumidifers aren’t cheap, after all, and some homes have more than one. You might have a few hundred dollars lying around that isn’t already earmarked, but many Americans don’t.
“My husband was afraid of this,” wrote Joanne. “We cannot afford to purchase another until we get the refund and our basement is getting damper by the day.” She wasn’t the only one who couldn’t afford a replacement without that refund check.
“Now, if I want another dehumidifier, which I really need, I’ll have to take it out of my Christmas money. I am forever done with Frigidaire, Soleus Air and Gree products,” grumbled Darrell when he wrote to us to let us know that his check hadn’t arrived yet.
Yesterday in our comments section, reader webalias pointed out that there’s a flaw with the refund calculations: in their community, there’s no way to dispose of a dehumidifier without paying some kind of disposal fee. The refund check was about $25 less than what this reader paid for their appliance, and then there was that fee.
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.
Brendan found himself in a similar situation. “I’m not sure how much it was originally purchased for as the dehumidifier came with my house, but comparable models seem to be priced right around the $199 mark,” he wrote. He got $144.88 as his refund, and had to pay $20 to dispose of the old one.
However, this recall has really decimated the dehumidifier selection in some stores once you do go shopping for a replacement. “The pickin’s are slim out there right now since Gree seemed to manufacture most of the models,” notes Linda. “Choices were between a “Hisense” brand and a lowly-rated GE unit at my local Lowe’s and Home Depot.”
We talked to a Gree representative about the refund situation, and gathered some readers’ contact information to get more information. The answer to the question of “why is this taking so long?” was pretty much what we expected: 2.2 million appliances adds up to a lot of checks, even with an outside company handling the recall. “The time to process a refund application has taken slightly longer than anticipated because of the large number of consumers who applied,” the company representative told Consumerist. According to the company, the first recall kits went out about seven weeks ago, so the checks are pretty close to arriving within the time limits they originally gave.
For the record, here’s the complete statement from Gree:
The recall process has been running smoothly. Currently, wait times for those who call are averaging less than one minute. The time to process a refund application has taken slightly longer than anticipated because of the large number of consumers who applied. However, at this time, it has been roughly a week over six weeks since the first consumer return kit was received.
Tens of thousands of refund checks have already been mailed, and more will be mailed every week. The amounts being refunded are established by the suggested retail price, which is an average of the various amounts set by various retail merchants. Some consumers may receive refunds that are slightly more or slightly less than they originally paid.
Gree is reporting regularly to the CPSC on the progress of the recall, and both Gree and the CPSC are monitoring and assessing its effectiveness. There is no set date for the end of the recall.