Update 01/11/19 Whirlpool ‘silenced customers’ amid tumble dryer fire scare “Whirlpool used “chilling” non-disclosure agreements “to silence customers” while fire-prone tumble dryers remained in UK homes, MPs say.”
Whirlpool recalls faulty tumble dryers
Whirlpool status 3 months on from being forced to undertake full recall
Today, 13/09/19 Whirlpool announced that it had successfully identified 65,000 tumble dryers and recalled them. Offers for a resolution have been made on 63,000 of them, with 42,000 of them having been repaired, replaced or refunded so far.
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 do a full recall rather than continue with its modification programme.
Up to 800,000 were estimated to still be in use when the full recall began.
According to Whirlpool, the number of owners with affected machines who had contacted the company since July had risen sharply from fewer than 10,000 throughout the first half of the year.
It said it had resolved the issue for more than 1.7 million people, making it up to five times more successful than a typical product recall. However, consumer champions, including me (!) have been highly critical of the company and its attitude towards safety.
Background to the faulty tumble dryers
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.
Whirlpool bows down to pressure
On 12 June 2019 I wrote a blog post The end of the spin cycle? The Consumer Minister, Kelly Tolhurst, had announced that the Government intended to serve Whirlpool with a full recall notice for all tumble dryers that are at risk of fire. She told the House of Commons at the time that “consumer safety is a priority for the Government”. I said that history would say otherwise, given how long we have taken to get here.
On 4 June the government’s Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) informed Whirlpool of its intention to serve a Recall Notice. On 10 July 2019 it was Whirlpool UK Appliances Ltd announced that it was to issue a full product recall of tumble dryers not yet modified from consumers’ homes.
What the full recall means for consumers
If you think you have bought a potentially dangerous dryer, ring 0800 151 0905 or visit the Whirlpool recall page to check if your dryer is affected. If it is on the recall list, stop using it and unplug it immediately. You can then choose from:
- A free replacement dryer with no extra charges for collection or disposal of the old machine
- A free, one-hour modification of the old machine
- A discounted upgrade to a higher specification model than the free replacement
- A partial refund of up to £150, with owners of older machines getting less than those with newer ones
Caroline Normand, Which? Director of Advocacy said:
“The progress now being made with getting Whirlpool’s fire-risk dryers out of people’s homes shows why the government should have ordered a full recall when this fault was first discovered – as strong action then could have prevented dozens of potentially lethal fires.
“The government must continue to closely monitor the progress of Whirlpool’s recall as thousands of people remain at risk while these faulty machines are in their homes.
“The government’s product safety regulator must urgently investigate whether Whirlpool’s modification for these fire-risk dryers is safe. If there is any doubt, the business secretary must step in and ensure that all potentially dangerous machines are removed from people’s homes.”
The Complaining Cow’s opinion!
Whirlpool’s reaction to the whole matter has been appalling. Putting profits before lives it seems. It took Government a ridiculous length of time to finally force Whirlpool to recall the machines and Whirlpool shouldn’t have been forced into it in the first place.
It amazes me that a company so large could have taken such a shoddy approach to consumer safety and cared little for its reputation. It has taken many years of campaigning to ensure that the government takes action and forces this company to recall these dangerously defective products.
Will Whirlpool survive this debacle? People often have short memories but I think in this case where a company has shown such disregard for consumer safety and its own reputation that it will struggle to rebuild its badly tarnished reputation.
My report Whirlpool – the tumble dryer story without the spin 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.
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