White goods giant fails its customers – again!
Washing machine recall
The white goods company Whirlpool, which produces the Hotpoint and Indesit brands, is yet again putting profits before the safety of its customers. On 17 December 2019 it announced a recall of certain models of washing machines manufactured between 2014 and 2018.
However, this is not a full recall. The company previously failed its customers who bought faulty tumble dryers. Once again, the company is telling customers to unplug the machine because of the possible risk of fire. And yet again, the company is already behaving poorly in its communications with its customers.
According to the BBC :
“… about 20%, of the Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines sold since 2014 are affected by the fault. Up to 519,000 washing machines sold in the UK are involved.
Seventy-nine fires are thought to have been caused by the fault which develops over time, according to Whirlpool, which owns the brands.
‘When the heating element in the washing machine is activated, in very rare cases a component in the door lock system can overheat, which, depending on product features, can pose a risk of fire,’ Whirlpool said.”
So, over the Christmas and New Year period, affected customers could find themselves unable to use their washing machines. If they do, the advice is to use them only on the cold cycle.
Whirlpool at the point of writing provides this website as giving more information https://washingmachinerecall.whirlpool.co.uk/ There is no other website available. At the point of writing there are still issues and it only provides phone numbers
Update 15.00pm the site now works!
0800 316 1442
The list of affected machines is below:
We are experiencing technical problems with our website and customer service hotline, and are working to fix the issues as soon as possible. We will let you know as soon as they are live again. Please find affected model numbers below. Our sincere apologies for the inconvenience. pic.twitter.com/AAGb25G2BL
— Hotpoint UK (@HotpointUK) December 17, 2019
The Whirlpool washing machine recall
Whirlpool has said it will start a repair or replacement programme but no refunds are being offered and there is so far no detail on the replacements. They have also said that this process will not start until January 2020!
A repair in the home or a like for like exchange.
We are recalling certain models of Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines made between 2014 and 2018 because of a potential safety concern. If you think your washing machine might be affected, you can check by calling 0800 316 1442 or by visiting https://t.co/nxxTZwjKOw
— Hotpoint UK (@HotpointUK) December 17, 2019
Sue Davies, Which? Strategic Policy Advisor, said:
“This safety alert will cause huge disruption for millions of people who will have no washing machine over Christmas, and following the tumble dryer scandal, leaves Whirlpool’s reputation as a company that can be trusted on product safety in tatters.”
Lessons not learnt
I find it extraordinary that Whirlpool appears to have learnt nothing from the previous Tumble Dryer saga, where it was finally forced to undertake a full recall of all affected machines.
Dangerous dryers under the Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline brands were sold in the UK for 11 years. They were blamed for 750 fires in the UK and yet it has taken 4 years to finally get Whirlpool to carry out a full recall, rather than continue with its modification programme. Up to 800,000 such dryers were estimated to still be in use when the full recall began.
The full Whirlpool story
I have followed the Whirlpool tumble dryer story since it broke in November 2015 and compiled Whirlpool – The tumble dryer story without the spin which outlines what happened up until April 2018. It includes research with 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.
Following from this I continued to report and give opinion as news broke:
12 June 2019 The Government orders full Whirlpool tumble dryer recall – at last! 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.
10 July 2019 Whirlpool FINALLY undertakes full recall of tumble dryers details the announcement made.
13 September 2019 Whirlpool gets proactive about recalls – At last! post outlines the situation 3 months on from it being forced to make a recall with an update 01/11/19 regarding “Whirlpool used “chilling” non-disclosure agreements “to silence customers” while fire-prone tumble dryers remained in UK homes, MPs say.”
Remember your rights!
Under the Consumer Rights Act (post 01 October 2015 and the Sale of Goods Act prior to that) you are entitled to goods that are of satisfactory quality, free from defects and that last a reasonable length of time. You are also entitled to any out of pocket expenses, so if you are having to a launderette, keep all the evidence of travel and service costs and claim them.
- In the first instance, if you have an affected machine, unplug the machine. Despite Whirlpool advising that customers can use the machine on a cold cycle Electrical First advises otherwise. “Electrical Safety First strongly recommends that anyone who discovers they have an electrical item that has been recalled should stop using it until it has been checked by the manufacturer.”
- Check the website to see if it is now working or phone the number above.
- Arrange for a replacement or repair.
- Keep records of any out of pocket expenses (e.g. travel, having to use a launderette when your machine is out of action)
- People are really struggling when ‘phoning to get the visit arranged. I would advise putting your request in writing. Please see here for the reason why.
- Do not waste much time ranting on social media.
- 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 for the Whirlpool CEO’s email address and contact the CEO outlining the issues. You won’t get a personal response but you should get one from his office and it gives you the evidence trail you may need.
- Use the Tips for effective complaining and the bestselling book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! which has more advice and templates. State that you want a replacement machine or the engineer appointment brought forward.
- 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.
- Your contract is normally with the company to which 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 an engineer out to you quicker, or offer a refund. If you find the retailer unhelpful and the retailer is a member you can also go to the Furniture Ombudsman .
- 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.
- If you bought the dryer on your credit card you can also use the Consumer Credit Act 1974 Section 75 as the credit card company is equally liable and it should give you a refund.
It is really shocking to see such behaviour from Whirlpool. It continues to not put consumers safety first, to be communicating poorly and not doing the right thing. It is refusing to give people refunds on machines so that people can purchase one from another brand too! I would not buy anything from Whirlpool and I wonder how many other consumers feel the same way. Will this latest debacle be enough to cause the brand to fail?
(About 5.40 in) I talk to Andrew Pierce about the issues.