Whirlpool/Hotpoint/Indesit shows contempt for tumble dryer customers

Press release

Dryer replacement scheme ends for Whirlpool/Hotpoint/Indesit users – Company updates list of affected machines without telling customers

Whirlpool has announced that it is ending its replacement scheme for dangerous tumble dryers that have caused fires.

With growing waiting lists for repairs, Whirlpool had previously offered customers the option of purchasing a new dryer at the reduced rate of £50. Customers had been given the option of a vented dryer priced at £59 (RRP £219) or a condenser dryer priced at £99 (RRP £299).

This latest move has angered consumer groups and the chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee, Rachel Reeves, who has demanded to know why Whirlpool is ending its replacement scheme for dangerous tumble dryers.

A growing list of affected machines

Whilst Whirlpool continues to make customers wait for repairs, Helen Dewdney – The Complaining Cow consumer expert and author of How to Complain – has discovered that customers have found that they own machines they were initially told were not affected.

Whirlpool customer, Juliet Govey, saw the announcements in the media regarding the defective tumble dryers and checked the list. Her model was not listed. In 2017, when she needed a repair on her machine and called out a Hotpoint engineer, he realised the machine was on recall and made the necessary modifications on the spot. She says “His view was that we may well have been safe as we kept the filter, condenser and casing clean and as fluff free as possible. There was very little fluff behind the drum when it was dismantled. I think we were just lucky.”

On my post regarding what to do if you have an affected dryer, Jess commented that she had bought a Hotpoint dryer in early 2015. Late in the year the announcements were made about the hazards and she was advised to go online and check if affected and was told it was too new for the problems and was not one of the models. On renewing her house insurance this year she told them it was a safe one. A few weeks ago she smelt burning from the dryer and immediately unplugged it and pulled it out and called out a repair man. He said it needed a new belt which would be about £10. She asked him to fit it but when he checked the model he refused, saying he wouldn’t work on a ‘fire hazard’. Jess checked online again, and found that the machine had been added to the list. On contacting Hotpoint she was told that the list had been updated.

Check online to be sure

I’m urging anyone who bought their machine and was told that their machine was safe to check again online on the Indesit and Hotpoint safety sites (Creda owners can check via the Hotpoint site) to see if their machine has now been added. “It is shocking and reprehensible that Whirlpool seems to have such a poor regard for safety. Why haven’t they kept records of people who have contacted them and done more (or anything!) to raise awareness that models have been added to the list? This in conjunction with all the other evidence against them regarding their slapdash attitude beggars belief.”

Coroner’s report

This latest revelation follows on from the coroner’s report, published on 31 October 2017 into the deaths of Bernard Hender, 19, and Doug McTavish, 39, who died in a flat in Llanrwst, Conwy county, in October 2014. The coroner, David Lewis, said that the fire was caused “on the balance of probabilities” by an electrical fault with the door switch on the dryer. Describing the evidence presented at the inquest by Whirlpool as “defensive and dismissive” he stated the company’s approach was an “obstacle” to finding steps to prevent future fires. He called on the company to take action to prevent future fires. Whirlpool has until 26 December 2017 to respond.

Dodgy tumble dryers – your legal rights & what to do

Many people have what some of us might consider as dodgy tumble dryers and have asked what they should do if they think they are affected and how long is reasonable to wait. Please read this post before asking what you should do, the answers are here!

So what is going on?

Current situation
1) 113 different Hotpoint, Indesit or Creda tumble dryers have been recalled. However, it is not a full recall in that all machines are being replaced. The machines affected were manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015. Dryers affected could pose a fire risk if fluff should come into contact with the heating element. 750 fires involving Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers have been reported since 2004, including three injuries. Update 12th March 2017 On the 23rd February Whirlpool has now amended advice and says to unplug and not use machine. It has still stopped short of a full recall. New advice.

2) Despite the potential risk, Whirpool has said the dryers are safe to use following precautions, such as not leaving the tumble dryer on when asleep, not leaving the house when it is on, cleaning the lint filter after every use, and  ensure proper venting

3) Whirpool will send an engineer to check your tumble dryer and have said it will be a 6 – 8 week wait, alternatively they are telling some people that they have to wait until June because they are still recruiting engineers! Update in March now saying 3 weeks to get a call back and wait could be up to 10 months! Given how long everyone involved in this fiasco has known about the issues this is not good enough and in my humble opinion not a good enough reason for delay should you take the matter to court.

4) Trading Standards calls for a full product recall before someone dies.

5) As of end February 2017 Whirlpool has finally changed its advice and said unplug and do not use.

What you should do if you think you are affected
1) If your tumble dryer is not affected there will be a green dot sticker insider the dryer either on the door, rim or back panel. Look for a green dot sticker inside the dryer either on the door itself or on the rim.

2) You may want to not use your tumble dryer despite Whirpool’s advice. After all, do you think it’s ok if it catches fire just because you are in the house?! I don’t!

3) Check to see if your appliances are affected. Hotpoint and Creda tumble dryers can be checked on the safety.hotpoint.eu website and Indesit ones here safety.indesit.eu Which? also uncovered the models affected and you can find the list here.

4) Contact the company and arrange for your service. Log all your calls, length or time on the phone and costs involved as you are due redress for this.

5) People are really struggling when ‘phoning to get the service sorted. I would advise putting your request in writing see here for why.

6) Check with your insurance company as to whether you are covered if your tumble dryer were to catch fire even if you were following the guidelines about sill being able to use it. If not, then use this information in your complaint/claim. Although, please also see point 6 below!

Your rights and what you can do if not happy with your situation
1) The affected tumble dryers were manufactured before October 1st 2015 and therefore, if bought prior to October 1st 2015 are covered by the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994. You are entitled to purchases that are fit for purpose and are of satisfactory quality. Whilst I agree that for you to be covered by this law, you should follow maintenance guidelines in the handbook, you should be able to put the machine on like you would a washing machine and dishwasher when you are asleep or out of the house! The affected tumble dryers are therefore not fit for purpose and not of satisfactory quality. Any products bought after 1st October 2015 are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

2) Under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 or Consumer Rights Act 2015 you are entitled to a refund, repair or replacement. the company can legitimately charge you something towards a new machine as it can deduct an amount for use (after 6 months in the case of the CRA). You can argue how much this should be because if they are charging £99 for a replacement to a family of 4 who have used it for 3 years they should not be able to charge the same for a single person who has had the machine for a year! Some months have now gone by and you will only be entitled to a repair or replacement. The company says it will “modify” the appliance, so one assumes that this is the repair. Some people are getting a free replacement when they assert their legal rights and what they expect!

3) If you stop using the machine because you deem it unsafe (and if the engineer carries out modifications then there is your proof that it was!) you are entitled to your out of pocket expenses. So if you go to the launderette for example, you are entitled to these costs plus cost of going there e.g. public transport/petrol. Update 12th March 2017 Whirlpool have now said unplug and do not use the machine.

4) Do not waste much time ranting on social media. The social media teams will be dealing social media simples! So many people are affected that you will be one of many and your case will not rise above another unless you get lucky. A few people have been lucky this way, most haven’t.

5) If you think the time to wait is too long, or you have been kept waiting longer than they advised or you want to claim, then go straight to the top. Go to ceoemail.com and contact the CEO outlining the issues and use the Tips for effective complaining here and the bestselling book which has more advice and templates here. State that you want a replacement or engineer appointment brought forward.

6) The Consumer Protection Act 1987 states that if you are harmed by an unsafe product you can sue the manufacturer. You can begin your court case up to three years from the date of the injury. In some cases, you can even sue up to ten years after the product was sold. If for instance you sustain a personal injury or damage to your property. The value of the damage must be more than £275.

7) Your contract normally is with the company to whom you paid the money; however, as the manufacturer has admitted fault your correspondence should be with them as in this case the manufacturer is responsible not the trader. But you could also contact the retailer and request a replacement or repair, you may find that a good retailer will also act on your behalf and get your engineer out to you quicker, or offer a refund. If you find the retailer unhelpful you can also go to the Furniture Ombudsman if the retailer is a member.

8) The “General Product Safety Regulations 2005” dictates that manufacturers must make arrangements for the collection and/or return of the product for destruction from consumers who have purchased the product.

9) If you bought the dryer on your credit card you can also use the Consumer Credit Act 1974 Section 75 as it is equally liable and it should give you a refund.

10) If you are given a replacement machine or parts that develop a fault your rights remain and see 2 and 3 above. Remember consumer rights always override a warranty.

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

11) See Tips for how to write that complaint and many others: How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! for more help advice, templates for complaining effectively. 

 

 

 

 

Things still wrong after replacement or modification
Some people are getting in contact to say that they have had the repair or paid the £99 and had a new machine but still have problems. This is what you should do:

1)  Contact them in writing. Most important that you have it in writing as evidence. Give details of date of repair (and all the issues getting to that point if it wasn’t straightforward) and that it is not working properly. Give details of the issue. State that as you have given them a chance under the appropriate law (see above) you are entitled to a replacement. They may still argue for for repairing again. Your choice may well then be between taking one more try or to carry on fighting through the Small Claims Court. See Tips for how you should write your email and what to include.

2) If you have paid the £99 for the replacement you have in effect entered into a new contract under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. As such, if you have had it less than 30 days you are entitled to a refund, repair or replacement. After this time it is a repair or a replacement. Again, follow the tips for how to write the email and what to include.

3) If you have tried 1 and 2 above or are in the process please email me!

BBC article 11/03/16 Danger dryers in 11-month repair wait

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