Carrier/Bryant heat exchanger class action

I'm wondering if anyone has had any luck getting service under this class action settlement. I have a 350MAV060120 AAKA furnace which started giving problems in early spring. It came with a lifetime parts warranty on the heat exchangers and my understanding is that this settlement added a 20 year labor warranty. My service tech had a fairly simple (~3 page) form to fill out with the results of some tests (e.g., CO in the exhaust was off the scale) and I thought this would be simple, but he has been going round with Bryant for months now with no useful results. (Oddly they did not ask for the pressure drop across the heat exchanger--it's about double the nominal value.)
The last thing he said they sent was a new 17 page form that also requests pictures (requiring the furnace to be disassembled before they will send a replacement). He says they also say that if when they get the heat exchanger back it does not have the type of failure discussed in the settlement it will not be covered. They aren't talking about covering labor either.
Seems to me that Bryant is trying to use the class action settlement to narrow rather than expand the coverage. Obviously the original lifetime warranty wasn't restricted to failures contemplated by the later class action.
                Dan Lanciani                 ddl@danlan.*com
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I'm re-posting this to alt.hvac
Dan Lanciani wrote:

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So much for Carriers claim to fame for quality , reliability, and safety. May as well go with Goodman for a whole lot less money and send your customer out for a nice dinner for the business.
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wrote:

<stuff snipped about Carrier demanding increasingly unreasonable amounts of work to file claim>
<So much for Carriers claim to fame for quality , reliability, and safety. May as well go with Goodman for a whole lot less money and send your customer out for a nice dinner for the business.>
Carrier's playing with fire. As soon as someone dies from a defective furnace that Carrier is clearly trying to elude repairing, the vampire army of product liability lawyers will swarm them looking for blood, the Feds will force a product safety recall and Carrier will likely join the list of companies that slid under the waves and vanished. By trying to avoid honoring their settlement they seem to be telegraphing the real size and extent of the problem. They've been selling these suckers since 1984 or so, which means there are a lot of them out there. One site says Michigan alone has 250,000 units in place. A recall of that size has the potential to be a real company killer. It sounds like they at first thought the problem was manageable but once they claims started rolling in, they realized the true scope of the issue and knew they had to put the brakes on. Making it hard to file a claim is an age old practice that I am sure BP is looking into right now.
Another site says: "All three complaints allege that in the mid-1980s Carrier stopped using stainless steel secondary heat exchangers in favor of cheaper polypropylene-laminated mild steel. Carrier switched to the cheaper product despite the fact that the industry standard was (and still is) to use stainless steel parts to prevent corrosion. Plaintiffs allege that the polypropylene separates from the steel and degrades due to the high temperatures in the furnace, exposing the underlying mild steel to acidic condensate. In some cases the corrosion proceeds to the point of actually perforating the outside wall of the heat exchanger."
http://www.tousley.com/press/20061010.htm
The Carrier cock-up reminds me of an article about Dell computers trying to foist off their purchase of millions of bad capacitors on consumers, telling them that "they were doing too many complex calculations" and that's what caused their machines to fail.
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/projectfailures/dell-lawsuit-pattern-of-deceit/10165
<<Dell employees went out of their way to conceal these problems. In one e-mail exchange between Dell customer support employees concerning computers at the Simpson Thacher & Bartlett law firm, a Dell worker states, "We need to avoid all language indicating the boards were bad or had 'issues' per our discussion this morning." In other documents about how to handle questions around the faulty OptiPlex systems, Dell salespeople were told, "Don't bring this to customer's attention proactively" and "Emphasize uncertainty.">>
In reality, they had shipped thousands of machines with defective components that would have leaked anyway, no matter what calculations they did or didn't do. Sales reps and techs were given "lie sheets" that made sure they admitted no responsibility ever. Ironically, the law firm that represented them is suing them, too. You guessed it: they bought some of the defective Dells, too and wanted *their* money back. You know you're in trouble when your lawyer sues you!
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/technology/29dell.html
It's no surprise. If people are never liable for anything they do, which should corporations behave any differently? When I called Samsung to report that both my DVD recorders had failed within days of each other, the first thing out of the tech's mouth was "we have no reports of failure on this particular model." I figure if that's the first thing out of their mouths, it's a big lie. I'll bet Samsung bought a busload of the bad capacitors, same as Dell, and were looking to blame their customers. What a bad strategy. I've been looking at 3D TV's and "DamnDung" has some nice offerings, but they are on the "not ever again in a million years" list, so I will look elsewhere. Same with Dell, Philips and Citibank.
Although I don't own one, I've been reading up on the Carrier issue and it's pretty scary. Here's how one site summed it up:
<<Heat exchangers in many high-efficiency furnaces are made of stainless steel but one company is being accused of using a cheaper grade metal and misleading consumers. A class action lawsuit has been filed in Ontario against Carrier and Bryant high-efficiency condensing furnaces. It's alleged there are defective heat exchangers in 32 models made since 1984. The lawsuit claims the exchangers are made of inferior metal and corrode prematurely.>> http://www.canada.com/globaltv/calgary/consumerbeat/story.html?id f28c7e-eab6-457b-b75e-033e3313765c
I am not surprised they are playing the "paper the claimant to death" route, requiring 17 pages of documentation to file a claim. If there is a forced recall that goes back to items sold 25 years ago, it most likely mean bankruptcy for Carrier. They probably feel that if that's the worst outcome, they have nothing to lose by screwing people around like that Monty Python skit about the princess:
<<King Otto: Oh, very well. Before I can give my permission, young man, I must set you a task, which, if you succeed, will prove you worthy of my daughter's hand.
Prince Charming: (Michael Palin) Yes, sir, I accept.
King Otto: Good. At nine o'clock tomorrow morning, armed only with your sword, you must go to the highest tower in the castle, and jump out of the window.>>
I am sure that if Carrier could get away with asking claimants to first jump off the roof before submitting a claim, they would. I'd be selling any Carrier-related stock I owned right now. The things that they are doing now seem pretty indicative of a company that's CTD (circling the drain). It seems like a bad idea to start using new, untested materials on something as critical and potentially lethal as a heat exchanger and a worse idea to try to palm that bad mistake on their customers.
One legal website had a very interesting take on all this:
<<"Many times, a cracked heat exchanger will be a suspected cause of emission problems. The mistaken belief is that exhaust gases will migrate through the cracks into the heated distribution air, which is distributed throughout the home via the ductwork. However, since cracks in the heat exchanger normally occur in areas of positive pressure, the exchanger is at most a minor contributor to the emission problem. This is because cracks can allow air to blow against the burners, reducing the efficiency of combustion and leading to a higher level of carbon monoxide in the exhaust gases." -- GAS APPLIANCE MANUFACTURERS ASS'N, RESULTS OF GAMA REVIEW OF RESIDENTIAL GAS APPLIANCE STANDARDS (1976) >>
Source: http://www.mmmpalaw.com/CM/Articles/articles29.asp
So, is the Carrier heat exchanger problem a potential source of multiple deaths or "no big thing?"
All things considered, I'd rather NOT have holes in my heat exchanger. We've got 3 CO detectors in the house, since they are prone to failure, and might even add another one after reading about all the ways CO can enter a home. When I had my water heater replaced, the tech failed to reconnect the vent to the chimney properly. Luckily, I noticed it by inspection, but that's when I went out and bought two detectors, one for the basement, one for the bedroom. I've since added a third in the kitchen area (gas stove), just to be safe. All three cost a bit over $100, but once again, I asked myself how much I would pay for CO protection *after* a disaster and $100 didn't seem like very much at all to help prevent it. We have at least half a dozen CO deaths (often many more) in the DC area, and while some of them are due to utter stupidity (running kerosene heaters indoors), others are caused by defective or improperly installed furnaces and water heaters.
--
Bobby G.









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Robert Green wrote:

But one big difference between the Dell and Carrier incidents is that Carrier switched to cheaper materials while Dell used what were supposed to be the highest quality parts, only the Japanese maker of those parts, Nichicon, happened to really foul up their production for a few years, around 2001-2004.
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of
cheaper
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http://www.zdnet.com/blog/projectfailures/dell-lawsuit-pattern-of-deceit/10165
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One big similarity is that the both lied their heads off trying to deny the problems even existed. IIRC, the capacitor problems came about as a result of someone stealing the formula for a new electrolyte that happened to be mis-copied and turned out bad. While Dell was not at fault for the theft, they appeared to know they had a problem a lot sooner than Carrrier did. In both cases, Dell and Carrier used products that were unknowns, although I agree that in Dell's case, they were not directly responsible for the change in formulation. Still, they are "badder" guys here because they knew, and like Bill Clinton, tried to lie their way out of it:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2010/jun/29/dell-problems-capacitors
"Amazingly, even after Dell identified the defective capacitor problem in its OptiPlex PCs, the company decided to keep making a shoddy computer. According to the AIT brief, Dell knew about a fatal problem with its OptiPlex motherboards as early as January 2003 and knew specifically about the Nichicon capacitor failures by January 2004. Yet Dell sold flawed OptiPlexes to AIT as late as 2005." Source:
http://www.crn.com/slide-shows/components-peripherals/225702158/dells-9-steps-to-epic-fail-in-the-capacitor-disaster.htm
I don't put a lot of faith or trust in a company that *knows* they've got crappy components but continues to sell PCs with the bad motherboards (some say over 12 MILLION). I think it took rather much longer for Carrier to realize it had a problem. The evidence apparently showed up first in Canada because they have a much longer winter heating season than the US. That was quickly followed by reports of failure in Michigan and a number of other northern US states. The bad capacitors became very quickly apparent to Dell as machines started flooding back in for service. The interoffice memos make it clear that they knew they had a problem from very early on but continued to sell faulty machines to their customers hoping no one would pin the blame on them. That sucks and Dell deserves to go out of business because of their selling known faulty goods and trying every trick in the book to keep their customers from finding out.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/technology/29dell.html?_r=1
While reading through these websites I discovered that Samsung used the faulty capacitors in their gear and there's a class action suit pending against them. I will be opening up my two dead Samsung DVD recorders later to see if there are any bulging or leaking caps and if their are, I may very well opt into the suit. I just knew when the tech said "We have no reports of problems with that model" that he was lying his fool head off.
-- Bobby G.
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Robert Green wrote:

http://www.crn.com/slide-shows/components-peripherals/225702158/dells-9-steps-to-epic-fail-in-the-capacitor-disaster.htm
You're absolutely right that Dell was just as bad as Carrier in the cover-up of their defective products, but unlike Carrier, Dell didn't initially try to cut corners by using cheap components, and the components that did fail, Nichicon series HN and HM capacitors, had previously been highly reliable. Also Dell had been trying to solve the problem with later defective Nichicons even before 2003, as evidenced by them changing from Nichicon brand to Rubycon brand capacitors in the part of the circuitry subjected to the worst stress, the CPU voltage regulator. Dell later even changed one Rubycon in a different part of the circuitry to a Panasonic, also to improve reliability.
The story about the stolen capacitor chemical formula doesn't apply to Dell or Nichicon but to several Chinese and Taiwanese brand capacitors. A Rubycon scientist was hired by China's Luminous Town company (Ltec) and duplicated a Rubycon electrolyte formula. Then some of his assistants tried to duplicate his formula and sold it to several Chinese and Taiwanese capacitor makers, only they left out key ingredients that prevented the formation of hydrogen gas, and this supposedly led to many faulty capacitors being manufactured around 2000-2003. Nichicon never used that formula but always used its own, and the failures of their HN and HM capacitors hasn't been officially explained, but some people say they were due to the capacitors being overfilled with water. However Chinese and Taiwanese capacitors continue to fail at higher than normal rates, long after the so-called electrolyte formula scandal ended, and I don't know the reason, although a couple of researchers at the University of Maryland found that Taiwanese capacitors were made of aluminum containing much more copper than the aluminum used by Japanese companies.
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I agree there's a substantial difference in how both companies got into the "hot seat." Dell's problems should have been caught by a vigorous quality control process that I've found a lot of companies don't have unless it's forced upon them by contract or law. There's a lot of speculation about the cause of the "great capacitor plague" but I feel Nichicon's problems occurring almost at the same time as the Chinese and Taiwan manufacturers is at least very suspicious.

It seems that high-end motherboard makers have switched to solid state capacitors in order to get around the problem. I hadn't heard of the copper contamination theory, but it's not hard to believe since there's also a lot of tainted wallboard that has come from China. Somewhere, someone must have made a switch in suppliers or in fabrication techniques. Nichicon may have been burned up the supply line by one of *their* subs or suppliers.
Dell's problems, unlike Carrier's, are with subcontractors to be sure, but big corporations are wise to remember that in the Navy, the captain is the one who bears the responsibility when a ship runs aground for any reason. Dell is the one who's going to take the biggest hit over this.
It's like Jack in the Box and ground beef. No one remembers the name of the supplier who provided the beef that killed little kids. They DO remember it was Jack in the Box, though. A company is only as good as its supply chain and it is in their best interest to inspect, test and inspect again at every point in the process.
You probably know, but some people would be amazed at how far "up the chain" big food companies like Kraft go to test their ingredients at every step of the way. They make the Feds inspections look pathetic in comparison. They do it because once the "stink" of a bad product gets on you, it's hard to shake. Ask some Wendy's workers about the "chili with extra thumb" jokes they hear. (-: Hell, I still won't buy Turkey Hill anything since they shipped ice cream in tankers that had transported raw eggs without a wash down in between. The results were predictable.
-- Bobby G.
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