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There are stinky products... and then there are stinky products.
"It just smelled terrible. It's probably the worst, almost like a sewer gas smell,” said Karen Freeman of Indianapolis, whose Kenmore Elite washer-dryer is one of the poorly designed appliances named in a massive class action lawsuit whose claims deadline is fast approaching for millions of Americans.
If you are one of the 6 million people who bought an affected machine, you have until October 10 and 11 (depending on the manufacturer) to file a claim and get up to $500 back.
Freeman told NBC News Affiliate WTHR that cleaning the clothes she had just cleaned with the Kenmore Elite washer and dryer she bought 11 years ago was a constant battle.
"The minute you take them out, you can smell that foul, sour smell to them, so them you have to wash them all over again," Freeman said. "I thought it was just me. But then I found out it was the dirty little secret. It's an epidemic."
The “high-efficiency” washers made by Whirlpool, Kenmore, Maytag and LG were supposed to use less water and soap and save consumers money. Instead, customers alleged the washers grew mildew and mold and left odors on their clothes, forcing them to wash their clothes over and over again to get rid of the smell. They also had to purchase additional cleaning products just to clean their washers.
Both Whirlpool and Sears Holding Company told NBC News in statements that “only a small percentage” of customers had ever complained about the smells and they chose to settle to avoid “the continued distraction and expense of litigation.” Whirlpool and LG denied any wrongdoing in settling class actions lawsuits that lead to some relief for affected consumers.
But time is running out.
To find out if your washing machine qualifies for a payment, rebate or repair reimbursement, check the following settlement websites right away:
Those who bought Whirlpool, Kenmore, and Maytag front-loading washers between 2001 and 2010 should go here and submit a claim no later than October 11.
LG customers have a separate settlement. Those who bought front-loading washers between 2002 and 2006 should go here and submit a claim no later than October 10.