To settle charges that it failed to report defects in its humidifiers, Gree Electric Appliances and its subsidiaries will pay a record $15.45 million civil penalty to the government.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the firm knowingly failed to report a defect and unreasonable risk of serious injury to the CPSC immediately (within 24 hours) as required by federal law. The dehumidifiers were sold under 13 different brand names, including Frigidaire, GE, Gree, Kenmore, and Soleus Air.
The company was also accused of making misrepresentations to CPSC staff during its investigation and selling dehumidifiers bearing the UL safety certification mark knowing that the dehumidifiers did not meet UL flammability standards.
The dehumidifiers were eventually recalled in September 2013, expanded in January 2014, and reannounced later in 2014. Gree manufactured, imported, and sold more than 2.5 million units nationwide.
The humidifiers were sold by AAFES, HH Gregg, Home Depot, Kmart, Lowe’s, Menards, Mills Fleet Farm, Sam’s Club, Sears, Walmart, and other stores nationwide and in Canada, as well as online at Amazon.com and Ebay.com, from January 2005 through August 2013 for $110 to $400.
In addition to paying the civil penalty, Gree will implement a program to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) and a related system of internal controls and procedures.