The following letter was sent to the Amana Corporation on 5/15/02 via Registered Mail (with return receipt requested) and was received by them on 5/20/02 and was signed for by C. Kempf. Due to legal threats from Amana, I had to change a few words of the letter before posting it on the Internet. The changes made are NOT in bold or italics. Amana's response follows the letter.
Consumer Affairs Department
2800 / 220 Trails
Amana, IA 52204
Re: Model #LED20AW
Serial # S9808151844
Manufacturer # PLED20AW
To Whom It May Concern:
On the evening of 5/13/02, my wife and I had a terrifying experience due to our Amana electric clothes dryer (purchased approximately 2 years ago) bursting into flames. Here's what happened...
At approximately 8:00 PM, my wife was drying a load of clothes and as she and I were talking in the laundry room, our Amana dryer started to make a squalling/screeching sound, but the unit kept running. My wife commented that the dryer had done something similar a couple nights before but the noise stopped after a few seconds. I turned the dryer off by opening the door but noticed nothing unusual when I looked inside the tumbler. I tried to restart the dryer, but all I heard was a loud motor hum and the unit did not turn on.
Our smoke detector began beeping and a couple seconds later, I smelled something burning. I unplugged the dryer, pulled it away from the wall and looked behind it but I wasn't really sure what I was looking for other than to see if I could locate the source of the burning. Smoke began to emerge from the vents in the back of the dryer. As I went for a fire extinguisher, my wife closed the laundry room door that led to our kitchen. The room began to fill with smoke. I opened the door leading to our garage and hit the switch to open the garage door to try and vent the smoke outside.
I slid the dryer out from the wall further and tried to spray the fire extinguisher into the vent slots in the back, which did little to stop the problem. My wife saw the glow of flames at the bottom of the dryer and yelled that she thought the vinyl floor covering had caught on fire. I flipped the dryer on it's back and tried spraying the fire extinguisher into any and all the holes I could find on the bottom. The room was filled with a gagging smoke and fire extinguisher residue. We both ran out through the garage and onto our driveway, coughing and retching. Mucous started to pour from my nostrils and I had a difficult time breathing.
My wife ran to the front of our house for a garden hose as I went back into the garage. I retrieved a nut driver set from my toolbox and headed into the laundry room. When I removed the bottom front cover from the dryer, more smoke poured out and I could see the flames. I used up what was left of the fire extinguisher and watched as the flames went out. I then ran outside to get some fresh air.
Looking inside the laundry room, I saw the flames pop up once again. I grabbed another fire extinguisher from the garage and went back into the laundry room. My wife entered our house through the front door, packed wet towels around the base of the laundry room door on the kitchen side, opened up several windows, and turned on every ceiling and exhaust fan she could. Every time I sprayed the fire with the extinguisher, the flames would go out and I would get a face full of smoke and yellowish powder. Then the flames would pop up again. I had to keep running back and forth from the laundry room to the driveway to get fresh air and try to clear my lungs and wipe my eyes. A steady stream of yellowish mucous poured from my nose and I could not stop it.
I had to get the burning dryer out of my house. We had 2 cars parked in our driveway and I have 2 restored classic cars from the 1960's parked in our garage. I told my wife to move her car into the street and I quickly moved my car into the street. I then backed one of my classic cars out of the garage and onto the driveway. I ran back into the laundry room and gave the flames another blast with the fire extinguisher. I then slid the dryer over to the door but found that it would not fit through the laundry room garage exit doorway. I remembered that when we purchased it, we had to wheel it in through the front door and through our house to get it into the laundry room. There was no way I was going to drag the stinking, burning, and smoking thing through my home to get it out.
My wife was standing outside the doorway and yelled to me to take it apart and get it out, which I proceeded to do. I ripped up the top section of the dryer and one side broke but I had to hurriedly unscrew the other side to get it to release. I handed it to my wife in the garage. I broke off the door. I then tore parts of the dryer apart and continued to hit the re-appearing flames with the fire extinguisher. I pounded and stomped on the rest of it until it came apart in pieces small enough to fit through the door or I folded them up small enough so they would.
When I got the bottom plate section separated that had the motor, blower and other parts still attached to it, it was still smoking heavily. I carried it out to the driveway and my wife doused it with the hose and IT STILL CONTINUED TO SMOKE!
Everything that was in the laundry room and garage got covered in a layer of smoke and fire extinguisher powder. We had many of our off-season clothes in a closet in the laundry room and they all got coated too. The smoke and dust got into every cabinet also. We spent almost 3 hours removing everything from the laundry room, putting it in the garage, and then mopping and cleaning the floors, walls, cabinets, etc. Every piece of clothing will have to be washed and/or dry cleaned and every single item will need to be cleaned before we can bring it back into our home. That's hours and hours of work. This morning, 5/14/02, I purchased a new dryer - not an Amana. I will have to purchase at least 2 new fire extinguishers, along with various cleaning supplies, etc. Some of my wife's more delicate clothes may be permanently ruined. To be quite honest, at the time of this writing, the extent of the damage has yet to be determined.
I haven't even begun to examine what damage may have been done to the paint on my automobiles. They too will have to be thoroughly cleaned inside and out along with our entire garage and it's contents.
Our kitchen only received a light dusting of smoke and powder and though it too will have to be cleaned, it would have been disastrous if my wife had not had the level head to block the bottom of the door with damp towels.
I have documented the aftermath of this entire incident via numerous photos I took the next morning. If you wish to view them, they are located on my website on the Internet at:
My wife and I are extremely upset about this. We feel a dryer of this age should not experience this sort of thing. We maintain our appliances well, and before you might start making accusations about the lint filter not being cleaned regularly or the lint exhaust being blocked - the filter gets cleaned after EVERY load and the lint ductwork gets cleaned once a year. And, I might add, it wasn't lint that caught on fire. The pictures, and the incident itself, seem to show (to my untrained eye) that the motor appears (to my untrained eye) to have overheated and burst into flames.
The motor of the dryer is labeled: thermally protected (and that label is visible in some of the pictures). (sentence about correctness of motor label deleted). (sentence about our opinion of the quality of workmanship deleted) My wife and I both consider ourselves fortunate that we were present when this incident happened. If we had not been present and able to take the actions that we had, it could have easily escalated and destroyed our entire home, vehicles, and all of our belongings, not to mention the injury we and/or our pets could/would have sustained.
Before we pursue this further, we are writing to you to see what sort of response and action the Amana Company will take or offer. If we haven't conveyed it in this letter, please be aware, we are very, very upset about this and will pursue this legally if necessary. In our minds, there is absolutely NO reason a product with (comment about product quality deleted) should be allowed to be sold.
There are several phone numbers below that I may be reached at. I expect to hear from the Amana Company no later than 6/15/02. If I have not heard from Amana by then, I will contact legal consul AND make a point to post this incident prominently on my Internet website, which receives an average of 90,000 hits a month.
I called the Amana company at 1-800-266-3535 on Monday, June 10, 2002, as I had not had a response from them. At first, I spoke with a woman named 'Teri' who asked several questions such as my phone number, address (I had to repeat it several times and I do not have a speech impediment), etc. After it was clear that she had no file on me, or simply was unable to find it, I asked to speak to her supervisor and she turned up her rudeness level much higher than it was before, as though it was my fault that she had no clue to what was happening. She promptly put me on hold and went back to doing whatever she does between complaining Amana consumers.
After 10 minutes, I hung up and called again and spoke with 'Diane', who must be 'Teri's' sister, since she sounded just as rude. I started off the conversation with a request to speak to a Consumer Affairs supervisor. I was transferred to 'Jen', who seemed to be upset that a pesky un-satisfied consumer like me should interrupt her day.
I explained the treatment I received from 'Teri' but Jen did not acknowledge what I said and asked what I needed help with. I told her about the letter I sent and that they had received on 5/20/02. They had no record of it but Jen did acknowledge that a C. Kempf did work in Amana's mail department and that the address I had sent the letter to (I asked her if I had mailed it to the correct department) WAS correct.
Jen and I verbally sparred as I stated that I had no desire to read her the letter and she contended that Amana didn't receive it. I have the receipt to prove it.
After several minutes of getting nowhere with Jen, I asked to speak to her supervisor or whomever would make the decision as to what action, if any Amana would take.
She immediately fell into an obviously well rehearsed speech about how our product was out of warranty and that if we would like to purchase another dryer, she could pro-rate a discount towards one. She never addressed my specific situation and it took all my strength to NOT tell her off.
If you would like to see the photos of the dryer after the fire, click here...
On 6/14/02, I received a call from Melinda Castello (Product Assurance Department, 1-423-478-6641, email@example.com) regarding the above letter. She and I set up a time for one of their representatives to examine the remains of the burned up Amana dryer motor. It was at this time I discovered that Maytag had recently purchased the Amana company.
On 6/17/02. at 9:00 AM, Mr. Larry Barry (Service Network Development Manager 1-888-806-4252 ext. 4252, firstname.lastname@example.org) showed up and examined the burned and melted Amana dryer motor, took some electrical readings, and a few pictures. He said I should hear back from Maytag within the week.
Over a week passed and I did not hear back from Amana/Maytag. I called and spoke with Melinda Castello and was told that everything was being processed and that she would know something soon. A follow-up email exchange told me that I would have an answer by 6/29/02. On 7/12/02, I received the this FAX LETTER. (click to see letter)
I find it strange that Amana/Maytag can make the determination that a piece of our clothing got jammed in the blower motor when in fact, it did not, and there is no evidence (photographic or otherwise) to suggest so. If the dryer was designed correctly, how would that happen? Also, if something did jam in the blower motor, isn't a 'thermally protected' electric motor (as the label on the motor in our dryer stated) supposed to shut down to prevent overheating and/or a fire?
As a consumer, I would think that any company would test their product thoroughly before selling it to the general public. They also infer that my wife and I were using the dryer in an improper manner. Total nonsense and an outright LIE, as far as I am concerned.
Due to our horrifying experience with our Amana dryer, and the poor treatment I felt we received from the Amana / Maytag company, I recommend that you do not buy products from Maytag (they also own Magic Chef & Jenn-Air).
I have spoken with an attorney, and he advised me that I take the case to Small Claims court. If you have ever tried doing that (I have) you probably realize that it is a waste of time and effort. So, until I can locate an attorney that will want to take on a small case like this, about the only thing I can do is to let other consumers know what happened to my wife and I and show them how we were treated by the Amana / Maytag company.
We personally will NEVER BUY ANOTHER AMANA or MAYTAG MADE PRODUCT simply because we do not trust the company any more and do not feel safe using their products. If you would like to contact us regarding this, please hit the rebuttal button.
We also recommend to all that read this to NEVER run your clothes dryer unless you are at home and have a working smoke alarm in close proximity to your laundry area - and change the batteries regularly! If your dryer should catch fire and no one is at home, you could lose everything!
If you would like to tell Amana how you feel about the above situation, here are some contact numbers...
1-800-843-0304 Amana Consumer Affairs (Toll-free)
1-800-628-5782 Amana Solutions Department (Toll-free)
1-423-478-66421 Melinda Castello - Product Assurance Department
1-800-266-3535 Amana Customer Service (Toll-free)
Saint Louis, Missouri
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Maytag