Complaints about funky, smelly mold in front-loading washers started out as online chatter years ago and wound up in the courts, with a preliminary settlement reached with Whirlpool and Sears in several class-action lawsuits involving 5.6 million Whirlpool, Maytag, and Kenmore front-loaders made by Whirlpool. The parties eventually came to an agreement and now members of the class have until mid-October to collect a rebate or refund.

If you have a front-loader from those brands that was made between 2001 and 2010, you may be entitled to some cash. A full list of the affected machines can be found on the website washersettlement.com. You can also call 844-824-5781 for information. Note that LG has also reached a settlement, involving up to 800,000 front-loaders bought in the U.S. between 2002 and 2006. 

The Whirlpool lawsuits claimed that the front-loading washers did not adequately clean themselves of laundry residue, and resulted in mold or mildew buildup, bad odors, and ruined laundry. Owners of these funky front-loaders may qualify for $50, or a cash rebate of 20 percent off the purchase of a new washer or dryer. If your washer is on the list but you haven't had mold or odor problems, you can get 5 percent rebate on a new washer, dryer, or laundry pair. Even if you no longer have your washer receipt, the model and serial number is enough, says Jonathan Selbin, court-appointed lead class counsel and a partner at Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP.

Or you could be reimbursed for up to $500 in expenses you incurred for repairs or replacing your washer due to mold or odors. But to claim the $500, you’ll need proof of your expenses.

A spokeswoman for Whirlpool said that the washers covered in the settlement have long been off the market. She confirmed that the company began notifying affected consumers this month. Call Whirlpool at 866-698-2538 if you have questions. 

Claims must be submitted online or postmarked by October 11, 2016. Owners can also object to or opt out of the settlement but no one will collect until the judge gives final approval.

For more information, see the washer settlement website. And if you have questions about washing machines, email me at kjaneway@consumer.org.


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