The end of the spin cycle?
Today (12 June 2019) The Consumer Minister, Kelly Tolhurst, announced that the Government intends to serve Whirlpool with a full recall notice for all tumble dryers that are at risk of fire. She told the House of Commons that “consumer safety is a priority for the Government”. History would say otherwise, in my opinion.
This decision comes after many years of fire outbreaks caused by faulty Whirlpool products and continual efforts by consumer organisations and individuals fighting to get the company to carry out a full recall. Some 750 fires have been reported involving Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers during the period 2004 and 2018, including three injuries.
On 23 November 2015 Whirlpool issued a warning regarding 113 different models of their tumble dryers due to the risk of fire. This risk was caused by fluff coming into contact with a heating element. All machines affected were manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015.
Models from Hotpoint, Indesit or Creda were recalled by the firm Whirlpool, which now owns all these companies. However, it was not a full recall which would have caused all machines to be replaced. Instead, the recall, such as it was, involved an engineer visit to each affected appliance.
Despite the potential risk of fire, Whirlpool claimed that the dryers were safe to use following precautions, such as not leaving the tumble dryer on when owners are asleep, not leaving the house when the dryer is on, cleaning the lint filter after every use, and ensuring proper venting.
Whirlpool amended its advice in late February 2017 and told affected customers to unplug and not use the machine. Yet, even then, it still stopped short of a full recall.
Out of the 5 million tumble dryers affected Whirlpool assumed that many of these would now be out of use due to their age. As of May 2017, 1.5 million consumers had registered as a result of the recall and the company has carried out the necessary modifications on more than 1.3 million of these machines.
The Which? article Whirlpool facing recall notice over fire-risk tumble dryers points out that:
“The government’s announcement today follows the publication of the Office for Product Safety and Standards report into Whirlpool dryer
fires in April 2019.
This report was labelled as, ‘fundamentally flawed and appearing to favour Whirlpool’s interests over people’s safety’ by Which?.
It came just months after we revealed that more than 30 owners of modified fire-risk dryers had experienced fires, smoke or burning
Details of how the recall will work are still to be clarified, together with information on what will happen to the millions of machines that have been “modified”, especially when there have been reports of further fires, smoke and smoke.
Whirlpool -- the tumble dryer story without the spin. This report outlines what happened up until April 2018. It includes details of apparent contradictions in advice provided by Whirlpool, results of Freedom of Information Requests to Government departments and Peterborough Trading Standards, London Fire Brigade, statistics and recommendations, research and investigations. All in one place.