For Immediate Release
West Bend Recall Hotline:
March 27, 2001
CPSC Contact: Jimmie Williams
Release # 01114
(301) 504-0626 Ext. 1376West Bend Co. Fined $225,000 for Delay in Reporting Defective Water Distillers
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that the West Bend Co., of West Bend, Wis., a subsidiary of Illinois Tool Works, Inc., has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $225,000. The penalty settles allegations that the firm failed to report to CPSC in a timely manner that its water distillers presented a fire hazard, as required by the Consumer Product Safety Act.
The CPSC alleges that West Bend failed to report safety problems that occurred in distillers overseas that should have led it to recognize problems in the distillers it sold in the United States.
The fine announced today is the third largest against an appliance manufacturer in CPSC history.
In November 1998, West Bend learned that a motor inside its water distiller caught on fire in several consumers' homes in Taiwan. In turn, West Bend redesigned the water distiller. However, no effort was made to alert consumers who had previously purchased the units. In January 1999, West Bend learned of another Taiwanese consumer who had a water distiller that failed and caught on fire. Subsequent tests on these motors revealed that when they were subjected to voltage surges the motors could catch on fire. In April 1999, West Bend decided to
recall the water distillers sold in Taiwan.
Between April 1999 and July 1999, West Bend learned of three motor failures in the United States, and another failure in Taiwan. In two of these incidents, it was reported that the water distiller caught on fire while the consumers were sleeping. West Bend reported the U.S. incidents to the CPSC.
In agreeing to settle this matter, West Bend denies CPSC staff's allegations and denies that it knowingly violated the Consumer Product Safety Act. West Bend states that the firm reasonably relied on expert
consultant advice that the failures were due to conditions highly unlikely to occur in the United States.
In cooperation with the CPSC, West Bend recalled the water distillers in the United States, on September 7, 1999. The oval-shaped distillers are made of white plastic, and have a clear, blue collection jug. The
housing looks similar to a large automatic coffeemaker. The recalled water distillers were sold under various trademarks that are printed on the front of the distillers. These trademarks include Millennium,
Mountain Stream, Pure Logic, Sci Can, WaterWise, TIC, Usana, Table Charm, Roex and West Bend. A label on the bottom of the unit has the model number, W10120, and a date code from 9722 to 9848 in black print.
Direct selling dealers and door to door sales representatives nationwide sold these recalled distillers from May 1998 through August 1999 for about $500. For more information, contact West Bend anytime at (800) 377-3038.Settlement Info: http://www.cpsc.gov/businfo/frnotices/fr01/westbend.html Original Recall: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml99/99170.html
[This message has been edited by Bill Addiss (edited 03-27-2001).]