Sears Faces Consumer Fraud Class Action over Defective Kenmore Washing Machines

Madison County, IL: A putative class action has been filed by Therese Dalla Riva of Edwardsville, against Sears, alleging her $1,000 washing machine stopped working properly shortly after she purchased it. According to the claim, at its worst the washing machine took more than eight hours to wash one load.

Ms. Riva claims that she began experiencing problems with her washing machine within a year of buying it. The problems included the machine stopping mid-cycle and displaying a code F1 or F51. On the occasions when the errors occurred, Ms. Riva would try to restart the machine, but would have to wait overnight before it would complete a single load of laundry. And she called Sears on at least three occasions to come out and fix the machine, but was told that there was nothing wrong with her machine.

"Over the next couple of months, the problem persisted and became progressively worse," the complaint states. "Furthermore, a high pitched squealing noise would run during the entire cycle and the lid was rusting prematurely. During this time, it would take over eight hours to complete a single load of laundry." When Sears finally agreed to make a service call to Ms. Riva's home in November 2007, the repairman diagnosed the problem within five minutes, as being a defective electronic control board. That piece of equipment controls the laundry cycles and water levels. Ms. Riva was forced to pay $132 to replace the control board because the washing machine was repaired outside the warranty period. Ms. Riva purchased the Machine in March of 2006.

However, the problems continued, despite the new control board having been installed. In the Spring of 2009 Ms. Riva discovered there was a recall on the electronic control boards. Despite claiming that Sears did not inform her of the recall, she contacted the store to let it know she had the control board replaced and was still experiencing problems. Sears offered only to mail her a replacement board, which she would be forced to install on her own, the complaint states. Ms. Riva did not believe a replacement board would fix her problems and decided to purchase a new washing machine in September 2009 after her Kenmore stopped working every two to three days, the suit states.

The suit also states, "Defendant represented that the machines were easy to use and that the consumers would be able to program the Machines to complete even large or bulky loads of laundry in a single, uninterrupted cycle. Defendant further misrepresented that the Machines and their parts were 'designed, manufactured and tested to provide years of dependable operation' and that each of the Machines 'also conserves resources and also lowers your water and energy bills,' even though it is clear that having to regularly restart a load of laundry and/or having the Machine rendered inoperable does not save water or energy and that the Machines are anything but dependable."

The suit alleges violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, fraudulent concealment and nondisclosure, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty and unjust enrichment against Sears.

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