Gree Must Pay Record $15.45M CPSC Penalty For Self-Immolating Dehumidifiers

Image courtesy of CPSC

This morning at the Consumer Federation of America’s Consumer Assembly in Washington, DC, Consumer Products Safety Commission Chairman Elliot Kaye announced a record civil penalty against Gree Electric Appliances, the manufacturer of millions of particularly flammable dehumidifiers that were recalled in 2013 and 2014. The company has been ordered to pay $15.45 million to the CPSC to settle charges that they failed to report fires to the Commission, “knowingly made misrepresentations to CPSC staff,” and put UL safety marks on products that didn’t meet UL standards.

greehumidifiersLongtime readers might remember this recall: we publicized it heavily at the time, and helped readers who wondered where their promised refund checks were, or who had other concerns about the recall. Their main complaints were that their refunds were significantly delayed, or that the amount they received didn’t cover the expense of buying a new appliance –– when they were able to find any dehumidifiers available in stores at all. In some areas, they were responsible for hefty recycling fees to get rid of the appliances as well.

Those were the people whose dehumidifiers hadn’t caught fire. The CPSC says that fires caused by these appliances caused almost $4.5 million in property damage across the country. One of the charges that Gree is settling is that they knew about the fires, but didn’t notify the CPSC in a timely manner.

This morning, Chairman Kaye delivered the news in his keynote speech at the Consumer Assembly, telling consumer advocates that this record penalty for a single violation, the largest in agency history. has an important purpose: it tells companies that they should consider CPSC penalties to be an actual deterrent, not a nuisance.

“Companies can no longer write civil penalties off as a cost of doing business,” Kaye told the crowd. This is the highest penalty for a single offense that the CPSC has ever imposed. The cap, previously $1.8 million, was raised in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA).

Gree Agrees to Pay Record $15.45 Million Civil Penalty, Improve Internal Compliance for Failure to Report Defective Dehumidifiers