Release date: June 11, 1992
Release number: 92-099

Release Details

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has accepted provisionally a settlement agreement in which General Electric Co., Inc. (GE) will pay $400,000 to resolve allegations that the firm failed to report in a timely manner a defect in its countertop coffeemakers as required under the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA).

CPSC staff alleged that the company knew that a thermal fuse, a safety device designed to prevent the coffeemaker from overheating and catching fire, was unreliable. The thermal fuse could fail to shut off the coffeemaker when the heating element reaches high temperatures.

Staff further alleged that, although GE received claims of hundreds of overheating incidents and several fires resulting in death and serious injury, the firm did not report the problem to the agency in a timely manner as required by the CPSA.

In signing the agreement, GE does not admit, and specifically denies, that it violated the statutory reporting requirements.

To date, GE has received more than 500 reports of coffeemakers overheating. The company has received claims that fuse failures also may have been responsible for fires that resulted in a number of deaths and serious personal injuries.

A recall of GE and Universal brand countertop coffeemakers that began in 1991 is still underway and thousands of defective coffeemakers are still unaccounted for.

Consumers should check their GE and Universal countertop coffeemakers to see if their products are being recalled. No units made on or after April 28, 1984 are involved in this recall. To determine the date of manufacture, check the date code number stamped on the outside metal blade of the electric plug. If the number is 418 through 600, the coffeemaker is not involved in this recall.

If the coffeemaker is a recalled unit, consumers should call GE toll free at 1-800-443-9000 to receive instructions on returning it. GE will pay consumers $10 for each unit returned.

The recalled coffeemakers are not repairable, and owners should unplug the units and stop using them immediately.

CPSC is issuing this news release as part of its mission to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury and death associated with consumer products. CPSC is the federal agency responsible for consumer product safety.

A list of model numbers being recalled and a step by step identification sheet is an attachment to this press release.