Misreporting faulty product, vacuum-cleaner maker must pay $725,000

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The manufacturer of a defective vacuum cleaner agreed to pay a $725,000 civil penalty to settle charges by Consumer Product Safety Commission that it knowingly failed to report a defect in the product’s electrical wiring.

CPSC says HMI Industries sold the Majestic 360 canister vacuum cleaner nationwide from September 2004 through August 2006 for about $1,800. CPSC says the product’s wiring can overheat, which poses a burn hazard to consumers, because such overheating can cause electrical arcing and melting. The safety commission says HMI underreported the number of incidents and injuries that were associated with the defective vacuum cleaner and didn’t issue a full report to CPSC until February 2009.

By February 2009, HMI had received about 2,000 reports of arcing, 120 reports of overheating and property damage, and two reports of consumer injury. CPSC says the company reported only 40 consumer complaints about overheating and damage to carpets, and no reports of injury.

On April 29, 2009, HMI and CPSC announced the recall of 44,000 Majestic 360 vacuum cleaners.