KANSAS CITY, Mo. The national recall of 2.3 million Maytag dishwashers which could short-circuit and catch fire hit a glitch Friday.
The phone and computer system set up to handle consumer inquiries staggered under the high volume of calls and temporarily shut down, leaving many frustrated consumers on hold.
"We are working very closely with Maytag at this time to address customer service issues with the hotline operation," said Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Company officials asked for patience.
"We have had a high call volume, and we have had some delays with the system, but it is up and running," said Jody Lau, a spokeswoman for Whirlpool Corp., of Benton Harbor, Mich., which purchased Maytag, of Newton, Iowa, last March for a reported $2.6 billion.
Whirlpool on Thursday announced the voluntary recall, in cooperation with the federal safety agency, after verifying reports of 135 fires in Maytag and Jenn-Air products sold nationwide from July 1997 through June 2001. The dishwashers ranged in cost from $370 to $800.
More than two-dozen consumers called The Kansas City Star about problems with the recall hotline. Some said they were on hold for more than 20 minutes before they hung up.
Lau said consumers should still contact the hotline number (800) 675-0535 for information, and to take advantage of the company's offer of a free in-home repair or a $75 reimbursement with the purchase of a new dishwasher. They can also go to http://www.repair.maytag.com.
Consumers can also get more information about the recall at the safety agency's Web site: http://www.cpsc.gov.
Wolfson warned consumers to disconnect power to any dishwasher they suspected was subject to the recall. Liquid rinse aid can leak from the dishwasher's dispenser and contact the dishwasher's internal wiring, which can short-circuit and ignite.