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Coway recalls water purifiers containing nickel

[THE INVESTOR] Water purifier rental company Coway has decided to recall its ice water purifiers amid public outcry over the company’s cover-up of defective products containing nickel.

“We deeply apologize to consumers regarding some of the ice water purifiers,” the company said in a statement on July 6. “We decided to compensate all buyers of the products to alleviate their concern.”

The official apology posted by Coway on its website.
The official apology posted by Coway on its website.

The company said it will recall all three disputed models -- CHPI-380N (CPI-380N), CHPCI-430N and CPSI-370N -- regardless of their release date. They were installed between April 2014 and December 2015. The value of recalled purifiers is estimated to be around 53.8 billion won (US$ 46.4 million), accounting for 2.33 percent of the company’s revenue last year. Coway will also refund the rental fee of the products during the period in full, and replace the recalled products with a new model. No cancellation charges will be levied on consumers who want to stop the service.

The embattled company also said it will take full responsibility if any health issues arises in the future.

Last July, Coway discovered powdered metal inside the ice storage bin of the purifiers, after receiving consumer complaints. The company, after examining the products, discovered that it was nickel, which came off from an internal component that makes ice. Instead of notifying the consumers of its findings, Coway repaired and exchanged the affected products through its after-sales service.

Nickel is a common substance used to coat household products. It is also naturally found in food such as nuts and green tea. The US Environmental Protection Agency limits daily intake of nickel to less than 0.5 milligrams. The amount discovered in Coways’ products, according to the company, was about one-tenth of the limit.

According to reports, some of the consumers are banding together to proceed with a civil and criminal suit against Coway.

By Ahn Sung-mi (