Samsung Refrigerators Cited in Hundreds of Consumer Complaints to Federal Safety Database

Unsafe internal temperatures are among the serious issues cited. Here’s how they stack up in CR’s tests and predicted reliability ratings.

Samsung refrigerator Photo: Consumer Reports

American consumers submitted 613 complaints involving Samsung refrigerators to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from January 2019 through December 2021, according to a study of CPSC complaints conducted by Consumer Reports’ Product Safety team.

Samsung is the manufacturer with the highest number of complaints during that time frame, due to its refrigerators, according to CR’s analysis of the records publicly available on the CPSC’s SaferProducts.gov database.

Issues raised in the complaints include problems maintaining appropriate temperatures, icemakers malfunctioning, and incidents of food poisoning due to food spoilage from unsafe temperatures. In fact, 211 complaints specifically cited food spoilage, while 62 complaints cited food poisoning. The CPSC data specifies the type and/or model of refrigerator involved for some, but not all, of the complaints, and from the models, we were able to analyze, they spanned several model years.

CR reached out to the CPSC to ask whether the agency is investigating these complaints, but acting director of communications Jason Levine wasn’t able to go into detail. “We are aware of the reported issue but, due to statutory restrictions on CPSC’s ability to disclose information about specific manufacturers or products, we have no further comment at this time,” says Levine.

More on Product Reliability

Similar complaints have been raised in a Facebook group with over 100,000 members called Samsung Refrigerator Recall U.S.A. Now and in a handful of viral TikTok videos that received millions of views. There is also a class-action lawsuit (PDF) against Samsung for issues related to the icemakers in Samsung French-door refrigerators.

“Everybody thought that [their refrigerator] was [Samsung’s] only lemon, and then we started putting all these puzzles together,” says Tom O’Shea, admin for the Facebook group. He says the group exists to keep Samsung refrigerator owners from giving up on pursuing service claims and seeking compensation for damages.

In statements to CR, Samsung disagreed that there are problems with its refrigerators: “The sudden increase in reports must have a cause completely independent from the quality of our products. This is clearly shown in the data you provided (referencing the SaferProducts.gov complaints), which reflects dozens of models manufactured across an entire decade simultaneously and inexplicably developing problems starting in 2020.”

What CR’s Member Surveys and Lab Testing Reveal

Samsung refrigerators are among more than 20 fridge brands tested by Consumer Reports. Our refrigerator ratings currently include six Samsung models recommended by CR in the top-freezer and side-by-side categories (three each), but we don’t recommend Samsung French-door refrigerators at this time due to their unfavorable rating for predicted reliability, based on our most recent member survey data.

“For the category of French-door refrigerators—for which there were many complaints regarding Samsung models in the CPSC data—our survey found that Samsung French-door refrigerators were only Fair for reliability,” says Simon Slater, CR’s associate director of survey research. “For perspective, 10 other brands in our current ratings scored Good, and only two other brands were Fair or Poor for reliability.”

CR tests only new products purchased directly from retailers, and when new, temperature-related performance of tested Samsung models was typically Very Good or Excellent. Specifically, of the 27 Samsung French-door models currently in our ratings, 26 of them earn an Excellent rating in our lab tests for thermostat control and an Excellent or Very Good rating for temperature uniformity. But our performance evaluations do not reflect product durability, reliability, or long-term performance.

That’s one of the reasons we conduct annual surveys, in which we ask our members about their experiences with new refrigerators that they’ve bought within the past 10 years. We use this data to calculate predicted reliability and owner satisfaction ratings for refrigerators, as well as to identify problem areas with these appliances. The survey questions cover topics like refrigerator repair experiences, prices paid for new refrigerators and repairs, and factors that influence refrigerator purchases, to name a few.

Based on our member survey data, Samsung French-door refrigerators also receive an unfavorable Fair rating for owner satisfaction. Samsung side-by-sides receive respective reliability and satisfaction ratings of Good and Poor, Samsung top-freezers receive respective ratings of Excellent and Good, and Samsung bottom-freezers receive respective ratings of Good and Poor.

Our predicted reliability rating is based on a statistical model that utilizes survey data to estimate the likelihood of problems emerging within the first five years of ownership, while our owner satisfaction rating is based on the proportion of members who say they are extremely likely to recommend a brand of product to friends and family. Brands that receive Fair or Poor ratings for predicted reliability are not recommended by CR.

CR member survey data also highlights brands with a meaningfully higher rate of specific problems relative to the average of other brands.

  • Samsung French-door refrigerators have a problem rate of 34 percent for “no water or ice coming from the dispenser” (compared with a median for all brands and refrigerator types of 15 percent).
  • Samsung French-door refrigerators have a 14 percent rate for “buildup of ice in the freezer” (compared with a median of 8 percent), and 17 percent for “buildup of ice in the refrigerator” (compared with a median of 6 percent).
  • Samsung bottom-freezer refrigerators also stand out with a problem rate of 13 percent for “buildup of ice in the refrigerator.”

However, in those same surveys, Samsung refrigerators were not found to be meaningfully worse in the problem areas of “icemaker wouldn’t make ice” and “refrigerator was not cooling,” which have median problem rates of 15 percent and 6 percent, respectively. That doesn’t mean those issues are not occurring with Samsung refrigerators; it just means they aren’t statistically any more prevalent in Samsungs than in other brands of refrigerators.

What You Can Do

This advice goes for a refrigerator from any brand: If you think you may be experiencing issues keeping your food at safe temperatures, Sana Mujahid, CR’s manager of food safety research and testing, recommends you purchase thermometers for your refrigerator and freezer to make sure their internal temperature is are at 37° F and 0° F, respectively. Refrigerator temperatures higher than 40° F put food in a “danger zone” where bacteria can grow rapidly.

“If you have food that has been stored in a fridge that’s not maintaining a temperature of 40 degrees or below, we strongly recommend that you throw the food away,” says Mujahid.

If you own a Samsung refrigerator, Samsung encourages you to contact the company. “In the unlikely event a customer experiences an issue with one of our refrigerators, we encourage them to contact us, so we can provide diagnosis and support options,” Samsung said in a statement. The company says customers can contact it by phone at 800-726-7864, online via live chat at samsung.com, or via Facebook and Twitter.

As for the members of the Samsung Refrigerator Recall U.S.A. Now Facebook group, O’Shea says Samsung asked him whether it could join the group with a dedicated account to help resolve owners’ problems, which he welcomed, but he says the company has yet to do so.

If you’ve experienced problems with a Samsung refrigerator and would like to share your story with Consumer Reports, you can do so using our Share Your Story tool below.


Home Content Creator Daniel Wroclawski

Daniel Wroclawski

I'm obsessed with smart home tech and channel my obsession into new stories for Consumer Reports. When I'm not writing about products, I spend time either outside hiking and skiing or up in the air in small airplanes. For my latest obsessions, follow me on Facebook and Twitter (@danwroc).