It’s Totally Not Cool That My Fridge Stops Working And Tells The Wrong Temperature

Stay cool.

Stay cool.

When you spend more than two grand on a refrigerator, you sort of assume that it will keep your food cold. At least, Kim did. The fridge is less than a year and a half old. Whenever the power goes off, even if just for a few seconds, the refrigerator starts slacking off on its keeping-things-cold duties. The gauge says that it’s at the proper temperature, but it’s inaccurate. The refrigerator’s contents, including her infant son’s medications that need to stay cold and a large supply of frozen breast milk, thaw or warm. It’s happened four times since December.

Yes, they’ve taken precautions, and they could even get a separate freezer for the milk, but this ignores the fact that it’s pretty reasonable to expect your refrigerator to fail on a monthly basis and force you to toss all of your food.

She first sent a letter to the Office of the President address that Samsung provided to Consumerist, but received no response. So she turned her missive into an open letter.

She writes:

We purchased a Samsung RFG237AARS refrigerator on December 31, 2011 for $2,315.74 at Sears in [redacted]. We were incredibly happy with our new fridge for a while, but we now have a serious problem with our fridge that poses a health risk to our family, including our 4 month old baby, Benjamin. The refrigerator and freezer will stop cooling, but the digital display on the front of the unit will still display the correct “cool” temperatures. The only way to know that the refrigerator and freezer are no longer working is by realizing that all our food has warmed or defrosted. We have recently bought alarmed thermometers as well, but don’t view this as a permanent solution. This has happened to us four times since December 12, 2012, and is unacceptable for what is supposed to be a top of the line appliance from Samsung.

This fridge poses a health risk to our family. Our baby is now 4 months old and is exclusively breastfed. He spent a week in the hospital when he was just over a month old and is still on two medications that need to be kept refrigerated. Since one of his medications needs to be mixed with breast milk to administer it, Kim has been pumping milk and stocking up in both the refrigerator and freezer for months. According to the CDC, breast milk cannot be thawed and re-cooled and we had to discard over two months’ worth of breast milk that we had stored in order to keep our baby healthy.

The first time our refrigerator stopped working, we contacted customer service at 1-800-Samsung to troubleshoot our warm freezer and refrigerator. On December 12, 2012 at 6:02pm, Kim called and spoke to customer service. The representative asked if we had recently lost power, which we knew we had since we had to reset the clocks the day before. The customer service representative told us that when we lose power to our house, the unit does not reset itself correctly and we just needed to unplug it for a few seconds and it would correct itself. Since the unit is pushed up against the wall, she suggested that I flip the breaker to the refrigerator instead. I flipped the breaker, left it off for 10 seconds and then turned it back on. When the refrigerator restarted, the temperature display now showed the accurate temperatures, showing that our refrigerator and freezer were, in fact, very warm. The customer service agent said that this was a known issue and that there was no solution, however we should unplug the fridge to reset it each time the power goes out. We threw away all of our food in both the fridge and freezer that had gone bad.

This has now happened to us three more times since that date. The next two times we had to throw away all of the food in our fridge and freezer. The third time this happened, February 22, 2013 we had to throw away over $100 worth of groceries we had purchased only two days earlier along with a large amount of breast milk that Kim had been pumping for our baby. This prompted us to contact customer service again on February 24th. We spoke to a supervisor and were told that they’ve never heard of this occurring before and that they wouldn’t be able to cover this problem. They said that they could send a service repair person to our house for $90, but that there was no “fix” for the problem.

On February 26, 2013 we contacted Executive Customer Service at Samsung via email with a letter very similar to this one. We have yet to hear anything back. Since this date we have bought wireless alarming thermometers for both our refrigerator and freezer. On March 3, 2013 our thermometer alarms alerted us to a warming refrigerator and freezer, although there was no evidence of a power outage in our house. We were able to reset the refrigerator and when it restarted, the digital display confirmed that both the freezer and refrigerator were warming. Since we had arrived home in time to hear the alarms and reset the unit we were able to save most of our food from defrosting. While the thermometers are working to make this temporarily manageable for us, this is not a permanent solution for our refrigerator.

We have been unsuccessful with many attempts to solve this problem with Samsung customer service and are now looking to alert consumers to the problems that this Samsung refrigerator poses and the lack of customer service available at Samsung.

As new parents, the health and safety of our family is the most important thing to us. As we continue to bring our baby to multiple doctor and hospital visits, we want to make sure that everyone is aware of the potential danger of this refrigerator.

We’re really sad to hear that Samsung doesn’t have any ideas: a fridge that works most of the time and ruins all of your food every so often isn’t a useful home appliance, and if no one knows how to fix it, why should Kim’s family be the ones to suffer? This situation is a great candidate for small claims court, if the family are prepared to take a day off in order to make some legal action happen.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.