Samsung, still recovering from the messy recall of its premium Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, has disclosed that products from another major category are also prone to exploding — its washing machines.
Consumers reported at least six models of its top-loading washing machines — some of which have operated without problems for years — have been known to explode, spin violently and levitate during the spin cycle, turning them into dangerous projectiles. Samsung has set up a website for customers to check if their machines are faulty, but has not issued a formal recall or released a full list of which models are affected.
Descriptions of the faulty machines filed with the government are harrowing.
"The machine jumped forward about two feet and turned 90 degrees," reads one report filed to SaferProducts.gov, where users can report faulty products to the government. "It slammed into the dryer, leaving a huge dent in the side of it." The washer then ripped the electrical outlet from its screws and bent it to the side, the report said. Others said their appliances ripped holes in the walls, or lodged pieces of plastic and metal in the drywall after exploding.
A class-action lawsuit against Samsung over the appliances is in the works, but these reports also prompted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue a warning statement about the washers Wednesday.
Samsung has suffered brand damage after recalling its Galaxy Note 7, which could explode during charging. The washer defects are unrelated to the battery issues Samsung faced with its smartphone. But the danger of both defects raises questions about the company's quality control, and could damage the company's brand significantly if consumers associate Samsung with dangerous products.
A survey from strategy and design firm Branding Brand found that 34 percent of Samsung smartphone owners, drawn to the quality of its products, said they would not buy another phone from the company in light of the Galaxy Note 7 recall. That could be particularly damaging as Samsung, like other tech rivals, moves into a consumer electronics world, where everything is connected. Some washers that are affected by this defect can connect to users' smartphones, using the firm's "SmartCare" diagnostic technology.
If consumers have doubts about one of a company's products, it can be damaging to the whole ecosystem of devices, said Chris Mason, chief executive and co-founder of Branding Brand.
"When one of those dominoes falls, it could have cascading effects," he said.
Still, others said it's too early to raise the alarm for all Samsung products. Consumer Reports, which spearheaded the call for Samsung to recall the Galaxy Note 7 formally, said that while these products are dangerous, it has no evidence of a wider safety problem with Samsung products. "We are not aware of data on any other Samsung products that would cause us to re-evaluate our current recommendations," Glenn Derene, director of content development for Consumer Reports, said in an e-mail.
The CPSC is urging consumers to report any incidents to SaferProducts.gov, said commission spokesman Scott Wolfson. "If there are new incidents, or older ones that have not been reported, please report them immediately," he said.