GE Range Internal Wiring Caught on Fire

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Jan 30, 2019
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#1
I purchased a higher quality GE Cafe gas range 3 1/2 years ago. The range had a one-year warranty. Last month while my wife was cooking dinner the internal wiring of the range caught on fire, with smoke and flames coming from the back corner of the range where the power cord enters. Fortunately, the fire died out on its own after a few minutes and there was no damage to the house, but the internal wiring of the range is damaged beyond repair. I contacted GE and scheduled a service visit for them to inspect the range. They have been cordial and responsive in communications, and after some back and forth, they did make an offer to provide a discount on the purchase cost of a new range. Their offer involved payment for the new range that amounted to approximately 60% of my original purchase cost, which was $1,900, which to me was unacceptable given the situation of the failure. I indicated my position that the range failed due to a latent defect in the internal wiring that left the range in an unrepairable condition, a total product loss, and that GE was responsible to repair, replace, or refund the original purchase price. I did make a counteroffer for payment of a lesser amount that I felt was reasonable and provided justification for my proposal in terms of years of use and price appreciation. They refused, and stood by their original offer, which I deemed non-responsive. I have been following the advice on this site and have been calm, patient, and have everything in writing, but it appears that we have reached an impasse and it seems I need to escalate this further.

My goal as stated above would be to get GE to take responsibility for this dangerous product failure after only 3 1/2 years of service, and to replace the range, ideally at no cost, or if necessary, at a lesser cost as I proposed in my original counteroffer to them. My wife is pressuring me to get this resolved after a month without a range, and I need some outside perspective on whether I have any kind of a case or a hope of being able to reach an acceptable agreement with GE.
IMG_1977.small.jpg
 

AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
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#2
Is it possible this was from mice chewing on the wires? If it was the purple wire, it looks like the casing got stripped for a few inches. I get mice from time to time (not any more since I got a new cat), but they are notorious for chewing on everything. I'm not sure how you will prove that the fire is from a manufacturing defect since it's 3 1/2 years old already.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
15,643
14,194
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
#3
Perhaps you should reply again with your counteroffer and maybe say that you are concerned this might have happened to others and that your entire house could have burned down if this has happened when you weren’t home. I might add that you think this should be reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission as well

https://www.cpsc.gov/

You don’t say what your counteroffer was- was it reasonable? IMO 60% for a 3 -1/2 year old range is a fairly reasonable. But I wouldn’t be buying another GE if this happened to me.

If you didn’t buy an extended warranty, they don’t have to do anything because it was out if warranty. IMO they should do something because to me this definitely appears to be a defect.

Christina has brought up a good point about the possibility of a critter damaging the wire.
 
Jan 30, 2019
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#4
Thanks for the comments. I did file a report with the CPSC, which was confirmed by an email response, but with the extended government shutdown I imagine that they are probably not on top of things. The information on the CPSC website makes it clear that they may or may not do anything, depending on whether they think that this is a significant risk. I obviously think this is, but they have not contacted me for any more information.

Regarding the comment on the possibility of mice damage, we do have two cats and have never had an issue with mice inside the house, so that does not seem to be a potential contributing factor.

Regarding the offer I made to GE, I paid $1,900 for the range when purchased, and they wanted me to pay $1,100 for the replacement. I offered $800, based upon $1900/15 years average life expectancy times 3.5 years of use which equaled about $500, plus another $300 for escalation, which I thought was a fair and reasonable approach. They said no deal, and that their offer was final. Their offer is still open, but as noted, the likelihood of me (or anyone I know or can talk to) ever owing another GE product is pretty low.

Finally, on the issue of the extended warranty, I am definitely not a fan of this "add-on" coverage, assuming that usually, the cost of the coverage is more than likely repair costs. That was based on the faith that perhaps a part or two or three might fail, but certainly not ruin the entire appliance, as happen here. I have had many other experiences with my dishwasher (KitchenAid) and front loading washer and dryer (LG) that both fail regularly and repeatedly, but i do my own repairs and keep them running with these regular and relatively minor cash infusions. I can say though that that this experience with the GE product certainly has adjusted my perspective on what can go wrong, on the quality of products being manufactured and sold to consumers, and finally, on the commitment that these manufacturer's have to the quality of their products, the consumers, and the value of a good reputation in the marketplace.
 
Likes: AMA

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
15,643
14,194
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#5
I think you lost them with the $300 “escalation” request. I personally think their offer of you paying $1100 for a new one is too high too - I might simply ask for $900 paid to replace.

Have you used our company contacts to go beyond customer service?
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#6
This is one of those truly awful consumer problems. GE has been going downhill for several years; they're not the A-1 company they used to be. At the age of 3.5 years, I think the original offer they made you was good. There's usually no "proof" involved with a failure like this ... and they don't have to do anything at all. Have you talked to your homeowners insurance about repairing the fire damage and replacing the range? I'm so sorry you're having to go through this.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 18, 2018
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#7
We had a similar situation happen with a several-year-old Whirlpool dishwasher that caught on fire during a timed cycle due to faulty wiring from the manufacturer. Its customer service was similarly responsive but also gave us a low-ball offer on replacing it with a discount price. Keep in mind that the manufacturer's pricing is closer to retail prices. I politely pointed out that Whirlpool's offer was barely better than what I could buy a replacement for from just about any sale at the big-box discount stores. I also noted that we were lucky that our teenage daughter was home to turn off the appliance and dowse the flames before the dishwasher started a fire leading to loss of life or home. They quickly responded with an offer of a full replacement, installed -- the only stipulation being that they got to keep the old dishwasher for research purposes. We agreed, of course. This was all done by email. You might try a similar approach.
 
Jan 30, 2019
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#9
Interesting to hear about the Whirlpool dishwasher experience, and that is actually pretty much what I hoped would happen here.
I was aware of the prior oven recall, and from the limited description I could find, it seemed like a very similar situation. I did note that in my correspondence with GE, but they dismissed it with "that was a long time ago and this is a different product".
Good comment about contacting my insurance company to see what they say. I had not thought of that but certainly will follow up with them.
I have not yet elected to use the GE management contacts, having wanted to let this run it's course with the consumer relations group. That will certainly be one of my next steps.
 
Jan 30, 2019
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#10
Recent new information on the source of the wiring failure and fire:
The fire began at the electrical connection between the power cord for the unit and the internal wiring. This fire origin is consistent with the customer description of a buzzing and popping sound, evidence of the failure of this electrical connection, which then ignited the combustible connector material and impacted the adjacent wiring. The plastic connector was consumed by the fire and there is substantial melted plastic residue within the oven cavity and on nearby surfaces. The ensuing fire damaged but did not sever a second main power connector, and also damaged the insulation on multiple wires that were within the flame zone of the burning power cord connector. All other wires in the area were continuous, without connectors, and there was no indication of any insulation damage or arcing in the vicinity of this event. Refer to the attached figures for additional information and “before” and “after” images of the failed power cord connection.
 

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Sep 20, 2018
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#12
Actually, GE no longer has anything to do with GE Appliances; that business was sold to Haier (a Korean company) in June 2016. Any escalation should be made to the new owners.

Legally, Heier's warranty obligation to you is limited. There is not a fixed carve-out in warranty law for safety problems that extends the regular warranty. That said, if it *had* caused additional damage, certainly your insurance company would be making strenuous efforts to recover the costs of your claim. It's possible that your insurance company might cover just the appliance, but you'd have to weigh the recovery (after deductible) with any "no-claims" discount you may lose.

Heier, does, however, have an obligation to the CPSC. They will be *most* cross if they don't receive a copy of your report from Heier, as manufacturers are supposed to forward these things off to the CPSC on their own accord.

That said, I do encourage you to escalate the issue. While it's not a hard-and-fast rule, "should not be in danger of burning my house down indefinitely" is certainly a reasonable thing to ask. And this was certainly a defect that was present from day 1; appears to be caused by a poor fit between the pin and barrel in that connector that melted. That will generate plenty of heat. (I've had to fix appliances before with that problem, although they didn't actually catch on fire.)