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New riding lawn mower catches fire; homeowner wants refund

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But after fewer than eight hours of use over the course of two months, Rodriquez says the riding mower started smoking and burst into flames while her husband was driving it. (Source: 3TV) But after fewer than eight hours of use over the course of two months, Rodriquez says the riding mower started smoking and burst into flames while her husband was driving it. (Source: 3TV)
The flames were put out, but the mower was left melted, broken and unusable. (Source: 3TV) The flames were put out, but the mower was left melted, broken and unusable. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Karen Rodriquez and her husband own a little slice of heaven out in Gilbert. Their property is just around an acre.

"This is an apple tree and over there is a tangerine tree," Rodriquez pointed out as she gave us a tour of her land.

All this beauty and greenery comes with a lot of work. 

"Oh yeah.  The grass is in the front and in the back, so there is a lot of grass to mow," she said.

For the past 16 years, the Rodriquez family has used a riding lawn mower to keep the property looking good.  

But when it finally broke down recently, Rodriquez and her husband realized it was time for a new one. 

"We decided to buy a new one and, of course, we wanted a John Deere because the lawn mower we owned was a Scotts but it's manufactured by John Deere," Rodriquez explained.

The Rodriquez family went to a Lowes and purchased a new John Deere riding mower. Their receipt indicates they paid almost $1,900 for the mower and another $349 for a bagger that attached.

But after fewer than eight hours of use over the course of two months, Rodriquez says the riding mower started smoking and burst into flames while her husband was driving it. 

"My grandson was saying, 'Nana, call 911 and hurry!' So, I did and the fire department was here within a few minutes," Rodriquez recalled.

The flames were put out, but the mower was left melted, broken and unusable.

Rodriquez contacted John Deere to report the incident and to get them to replace what she thought was a faulty mower. She says the company kept telling her to file a claim with her insurance company. 

"Oh, I was so devastated and upset and angry with them that I am beside myself." 

Rodriquez thought the mower should at least be covered by John Deere’s warranty.

She says John Deere kept dismissing the issue, calling it a debris fire. The company said the lawn mower was not cleaned out properly underneath, heated up, and then caught fire.  So, essentially, John Deere felt it was the couple's fault. John Deere even told them to file a claim under their homeowner's insurance.

Aggravated, Rodriquez filed a complaint with the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, which sent an inspector out to document the damage.  But as far as getting John Deere to replace the mower, the agency said it was her battle.

That's when Rodriquez 3 turned to On Your Side. Surprisingly, John Deere did not want any details regarding that burned up lawn mower and referred 3 On Your Side back to Lowes where the mower was purchased.

Then, after a few days of looking into the matter, John Deere told 3 On Your Side that a check for $2,500 was being issued to the Rodriquez family to compensate them for their damaged mower.

John Deere -- and Lowes, for that matter -- stick by their initial decision that this was a debris fire caused when debris comes into contact with the mower’s hot engine.

Regardless, 3 On Your Side appreciates their involvement and refunding the money.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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