/ Home & Energy

Beko should have acted faster on fridge freezer fires

Fridge freezer

If you own a 5 to 11 year old Beko fridge freezer (not a standalone fridge or freezer), check your model number, as they have been linked to 20 fires in London over the last three years.

The London Fire Brigade has put out an urgent fire warning to owners of up to 500,000 Beko fridge freezers, following a tower block fire last week.

Newer models don’t have the fault, so don’t worry if you’ve bought one in the last four years.

Although Beko has taken some steps to contact customers with the affected models, it hasn’t acted very swiftly – it knew there was a problem with these fridge freezers last June. Why did it take the company over a year to make this safety problem public?

Do you own a Beko fridge freezer?

The fault relates to the fridge’s defrost timer, which can fail and overheat when water gets into it, leading to an electrical malfunction.

Beko says it has tracked down and sent letters to 200,000 customers, and made modifications to 11,000 appliances so far. But ultimately, more needs to be done to ensure all customers are protected; not just those Beko has contact details for.

If you have a Beko fridge freezer that is 5 to 11 years old, check the model numbers on Which.co.uk to see if yours is affected. If it is, call Beko immediately to ask what steps need to be taken.

Do you own a Beko fridge freezer? Have you had any problems with it so far? Did you receive a letter from Beko asking you to get in touch, or maybe the company has already modified your fridge freezer?

Comments
Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Admin

You may be interested in the Electrical Safety Council’s new online tool to make the process of discovering if you have a recalled product and also how to deal with its removal, much easier http://www.esc.org.uk/recall/

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

This is a good example of a service that could have been useful but is far from helpful. Having photos is useful, but all the ones I have looked at are small and blurred.

With such a large list of recalls it would be helpful to have an index that is easy to use, but some of the descriptions are not very useful. For example there are are various entries for ‘AC/DC Adaptor’ and another entry reads ‘Counterfeit Pink Styler sold at Superdrug’.

In an ideal world we would all register our purchases with the manufacturer and the manufacturer would contact us if they recall a product. I don’t believe many people do register their products unless there is an incentive, such as a free extended warranty. Maybe we need a smartphone app to make it easy to register our purchases to receive information about recalls.

Admin

WHY DO FRIDGE FREEZERS NOT HAVE SAFETY CUT-OUTS WHEN THE INSIDE OF THE APPLIANCE REACHES A CERTAIN TEMPERATURE?

WE RETURNED FROM HOLIDAY TO FIND THAT OUR BEKO FRIDGE FREEZER (6 YEARS OLD) WAS COOKING THE FOOD INSIDE.

ACCORDING TO THE FRIDGE THERMOMETER THE TEMP HAD REACHED 20 DEGREES CELCIUS!!

THANKFULLY IT DID NOT IGNITE. NO MORE BEKO PRODUCTS FOR US THOUGH.

BEKO WAS INFORMED BUT DIDN’T SEEM THAT INTERESTED.
CITIZENS ADVICE WAS INFORMED AND PASSED DETAILS ON TO TRADING STANDARDS. HAVE HEARD NOTHING MORE.

Admin
hayley says:
4 April 2013

i bought a beko fridge freezer 20th april 2012,last week the smell of rubber burning woke my husband up early hours of the morning,it was the fridge freezer. which had tripped my electrics in the kitchen,the model number is cf645 and the serial number starts with 12, this is not one of the recalled numbers so its obvious there is faults with newer models too. beko sent an engineer out who said it needs a new compressor and timer.

Admin
Katherine says:
18 August 2013

We had a Beko fridge freezer which was one of the effected models. A Beko engineer came out back in 2011 to replace the defrost timer. On the 20th July 2013 we were woke at 3:30am, to the sound of our smoke alarms. My husband dashed out of bedroom & ran down stairs to discover that there was a fire in the utility room were the fridge freezer was located. We got our 3 children out of the house quickly & called for the fire services. They put out the blaze & soon confirmed that the fire started at the back of the fridge freezer. Beko have since sent out an engineer & a forensic fire investigator who confirmed that the capacitor on the back of the fridge was the cause of the fire. It has been such a devastating experience for me & my family. Why has this happened? There is no warning from Beko about the capacitors!

Admin
Kevin Aiken says:
23 September 2014

Ive just found out on the internet that My Fridge/Freezer is a potential fire hazzard due to the Defrost timer because I was looking for instructions as the Fridge/Freezer is not working, after British Gas said It has a faulty defrost timer, the engineer wasnt aware of the outstanding recall on my make and model no of the appliance.

No-one from Beko contacted me about this, beko says when the timer is replaced there is no risk of fire?

Im just glad I did a google on my product, since I have a faulty defrost timer aswell

Admin
Michelle Walsh says:
3 January 2014

I bought a frost free fridge freezer in April 2011 just before Christmas after buying all my Xmas food the whole thing seems to have packed in I payed a lot of money for this & expected it to last longer than 19month this has caused a lot of distress as it not only ruined my Xmas but me and my daughter are left with out a fridge freezer & I,m unsure if its still under guarantee I would expect it to be at least 2yr but I,ve a feeling this won’t be the case. Could you please get in touch asap as I carn,t afford £120 to get an electrician to come out and have a look.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

Michelle, whatever the guarantee a product should also have reasonable durability. This is covered in the Sale of Goods Act and it says “the product should:

be of satisfactory quality
quality of goods includes
– appearance and finish
– freedom from minor defects (such as marks or holes)
– safe to use
– in good working order
– durability

durability – the durability requirement is that the item should
work or last for a reasonable time but it does not have to
remain of satisfactory quality. For example, a pair of wellington
boots should stay waterproof but does not have to keep its
brand new appearance.

reasonable time – this depends on the item and the
circumstances. What is reasonable is determined by taking
everything into account and considering what an impartial
person would think is reasonable.”

If you have used the appliance normally then an impartial person would not expect it to fail in 19 months. I’d suggest a fridge-freezer should last 10 years.

I suggest you check the obvious if you haven’t already- for example that you have not accidentally switched it off at the socket, or have a failed fuse in the plug (does the light still come on?). Does it make a noise but not get cold? I’d approach the retailer then, who may require you to have it checked at your cost (you may still be at fault). The advantage of you having someone do a basic check on the appliance is you can then give the retailer the cause of failure and point out they have an obligation under the Sale of Goods Act to make recompense for lack of reasonable durability and also to refund your examination fee. This is independent of any guarantee.

That is my interpretation – Which? may have better advice. If this friendly approach fails you can then take (or threaten to take) the retailer to the small claims court to get redress. All should be cheaper than buying a new appliance.

Profile photo of Richard Wilkinson
Admin

Sorry to hear of your problem with the fridge freezer. As the product is out of the warranty period, the onus is on you to prove to the retailer that it was faulty at the point of sale and that what has happened is not just general wear and tear.

My colleague Lewis Skinner has written about this issue. Titled ‘The big faulty goods fob off’, it may be useable in your circumstance.
https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/returning-faulty-goods-retailers-sale-of-goods-act/

I’d also suggest you look at the following links about faulty products:
http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/sale-of-goods-act
http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/problem/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product
http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/how-to-get-a-faulty-product-replaced-or-repaired

Hopefully you will get a satisfactory ending

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

The tendency seems to be to focus only on “faults” in goods – that is an abnormal manufacturing defect that exists when purchased. However SoGA has a requirement of durability, as I said above. Acceptable durability might not be met for other reasons – such as a design that is inadequate or materials or components generally embodied that are not up to the job – just a poor quality product. Does Which? not think this is a separate source for complaint that could simply be judged against a “reasonable durability” criterion? SoGA defines these terms. I think that having to prove a fault pre-existed puts many people off pursuing a claim. Help with a simpler route would be appreciated. A fridge-freezer that lasts 19 months clearly does not meet the test of durability, does it?

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

A component that is faulty at the time of manufacture will usually be apparent during the guarantee period. Failures due to underspecified components, unsuitable materials and poor design are – I believe – responsible for many cases of premature failure of products outside the guarantee period.

Providing that a fridge-freezer has not been damaged or abused then it should last at least ten years and have a warranty for this period. Obviously this cannot be expected to cover damage or abuse. Fridge-freezers are often damaged by users’ efforts to remove ice or by using them in an enclosed space without adequate ventilation.

The Sale of Goods Act isn’t really fit for the 21st century and what the consumers need is decent warranties without paying extra for them. If manufacturers are responsible for the cost of replacement or repair, their products will soon become more reliable.

Profile photo of Richard Wilkinson
Admin

I’m no expert on the Sale of Goods Act but have asked a colleague and this was their reply;

….starting point is that you won’t find a a specific requirement set out in the SGOA that goods be “reasonably durable.” Durability is one of the factors to consider when determining whether something is of “satisfactory quality” or not – this is the relevant extract from the Sale of Goods Act 1979:

Section 14
(2) Where the seller sells goods in the course of a business, there is an implied term that the goods supplied under the contract are of satisfactory quality.

(2B)
For the purposes of this Act, the quality of goods includes their state and condition and the following (among others) are in appropriate cases aspects of the quality of goods—

(a) fitness for all the purposes for which goods of the kind in question are commonly supplied, (b) appearance and finish, (c) freedom from minor defects, (d) safety, and (e) durability.

Malcolm is right though that where an item doesn’t last as long as it should have, you’d focus on the durability element, but it would be with a view to arguing that it is not of “satisfactory quality” rather than not “reasonably durable”.

…..claims under the SOGA wouldn’t just be where a product has a specific defect, the SOGA as Malcolm suggests, could also apply where you just make your product out of materials that weren’t up to the job i.e. it could be made exactly as the manufacturer intended, but it’s still not of satisfactory quality or fit for its purpose.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

Richard, thanks for following this up. Durability became a specific requirement under “Implied terms about quality and fitness” in the 1994 amendments. So SoGA clearly requires a product to be durable and introduced this for a reason. I don’t know where the act defines durable, but the Office of Fair Trading “Sales of Goods Act explained” has a glossary that defines durable as” …..last for a reasonable time” – the latter being “…what an impartial person would think was reasonable”. I presume these terms are based on legal interpretation.

Certainly if Michelle’s fridge-freezer has just stopped working after 19 months without misuse then lack of reasonable durability must be an issue?

It seems to me that durability is one key element of SoGA and included to be used as one means of pursuing redress. I think we should pay more attention to it as a means of helping consumers.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

Whilst I, like others, would like to see longer guarantees I do not see them replacing the Sale of Goods Act. Guarantees will always be designed by the manufacturer – so written in their favour – whereas legislation should always be in the consumer’s favour, and ensure unfair terms or omissions are not misused. However, I bang on about durability in SoGA and I think most of us believe that when we buy a product we expect it to last a reasonable time; this will depend upon a number of factors, including cost. Where SoGA fails is it only lasts 6 years, and yet we should expect a lot of products to last much longer – I suggest up to 10 years is a more reasonable time for some products.
We could not expect longer guarantees to be free; inevitably a manufacturer, however good their quality, will supply some individual items that will have a problem during, say, a 5 year period and the cost of repairing will come out of their profits, so being realistic must be covered in the initial cost. However, where we will win will be that the better manufacturers will have fewer problems, and therefore lower extra costs; the poorer quality manufacturers will either have to up their game, or their prices, to cover their higher problem rate.
We need both a Sale of goods Act – particularly made more usable for durability and the number of years it can be applied – and longer warranties that reflect reasonable durability. That’s my view. if others agree, should Which? be pursuing this for us?

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

Malcolm – You and I and a relatively small proportion of the population pursue our rights under the Sale of Goods Act, but it is far too difficult too much hassle to expect most people to do this, especially when retailers have not wakened up to their obligations. In the recent survey Which? found that none of the visits to retailers – including John Lewis – gave acceptable responses to the undercover investigators.

Car manufacturers used to provide a warranty for a year, but longer warranties have done a lot to help sales of makes that offer longer warranties. Brands that offer longer warranties don’t necessarily cost more and no-one can fail to appreciate how much cars have improved over the years. The fact that we have longer car warranties and main agents are often prepared to support the customer via ‘goodwill’ repairs or payments helps maintain loyal customers too.

We are stuck with the Sale of Goods Act for a while yet, but what we should be campaigning for is longer warranties for ‘consumer durables’, with longer warranties being an important selling point. Consumer durables is a very appropriate name.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

Wavechange, I think you pick up on my main point – we need to make it much easier to use the Sale of Goods Act – it should cover more than even an extended warranty will. Where are we with Kindle screens for example? I would have thought a clear case of inadequate durability. And why should Michelle have to jump through hoops to prove her failed fridge-freezer at 19 months is not her fault?
I would like to see longer warranties – even 3 years for a car is pretty poor. But if retailers are made to understand their obligations under SoGA – and using it more routinely will wake them up – then our consumer rights will be exercised more successfully. It is not one or the other – strengthen both. An important job for Consumers Association in my view.
When I mentioned SoGA recently to John Lewis in pursuit of a claim they were on my side, gave me immediate redress, and got it back from their manufactuer. No warranty involved, just durability.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

Unless there is a major change in the legislation, the majority of consumers will continue to receive little benefit of the Sale of Goods Act. It’s time to cut our losses and push for extended warranties.

What Michelle needs is to get her fridge-freezer repaired under warranty, without hassle.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

She doesn’t seem to know if it is under warranty – if it is for one year she will need to pursue a different route. We can’t wait years for extended warranties to appear.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

I don’t think I have had a bet in my life (not even a Lottery ticket) but I believe that we will see five year warranties on consumer durables sooner than it becomes common practice to make claims under the Sale of Goods Act.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

It would be useful to hear Which?’s views on progress on warranties.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

Which? is taking warranties for fridge-freezers into account, which is easier to assess than durability. I quote from the website:

“A fridge freezer can qualify as a Best Buy if its brand scores at least three stars in our reliability survey or it has a free 5-year warranty.

But as fridge freezers are generally reliable, we also allow models to be Best Buys if we don’t yet have a reliability rating, unless we know this brand has a poor track record for similar appliances.”

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

A quick look at warranties on offer for domestic appliances yields the following:
Samsung 2 years (odd models 5 years)
Siemens – generally 2 years
Bosch – generally 2 yr
Neff – 12 mth
Liebherr – 2 yrs
Hotpoint 1 year (2 yrs parts)
John Lewis – e.g. minimum of 2 years on fridge freezers.
Just a sample, and no doubt there will be specific models or offers with longer warranties, but they do not seem to be the norm.
Even if the brands are very reliable, this does not help those people who do have a breakdown in early life. They are not warranties that represent “reasonable durability”. So we cannot rely on them, unless radical improvements are made.
We need a better way, now, to help consumers like Michelle with unreasonable product life and an unhelpful retailer.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

One year warranties are still the norm for many purchases. With washing machines and washer driers, which are among the less reliable domestic items longer warranties are an important consideration for many consumers. Some washing machines are now offered with a five year warranty, which is encouraging.

Refrigeration equipment is generally fairly reliable and it is often ‘wear and tear’ damage such as faulty door seals rather that results in replacement, rather than complete failure. I believe it is perfectly reasonable for manufacturers or retailers to offer a ten year warranty on a fridge-freezer, on the basis that the majority of fridge-freezers will be sufficiently durable to survive for this time, assuming that they are not abused.

If a mechanical item like a washing machine or a car can be given a five year warranty, then surely the same can be done for every fridge-freezer.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

wavechange, I am sure longer warranties could be given (JLP with TVs – 5 years for example) and I am all in favour. But the fact is they are not currently being given. We need to address the problem that consumers currently face – with short warranties how do you get a fair result when an appliance fails out of warranty but in an unreasonably short time.
As we have both presented our views I’d like to hear what Which? thinks can be done to help consumers.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

We are in total agreement about the problem and it will be very interesting indeed to have some input from Which?

Which? has done undercover investigations to establish how customers are treated when they encounter problems. Which? product testing attempts to discover reliability problems, though it is impossible to simulate years of normal use within the short testing period. What I feel is missing is the investigation of why a proportion of appliances (such as fridge-freezers) should fail prematurely in the home environment. A good engineer specialising in this type of product could provide helpful information. I suspect that we will find that the premature failure of fridge-freezers is largely down to poor design and use of inferior components. In the case of vacuum cleaners and other items that may be roughly handled, abuse may be a much greater problem.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

Which? Connect regularly ask me to complete surveys on products and services. I can’t remember the details of questions asked about appliances for example, but this should, or could, be a good source of information about actual product durability – how long people have had different makes of various appliances for example with no, or minimal, problems

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

This is undoubtedly valuable, but is unlikely to identify the reason for failure and the contribution of abuse, which can be accidental and include very heavy use of washing machines and other mechanical products.

Michelle has probably lost the will to live if she has read all of our discussion. 🙂

My recommendation would be to read up about the Sale of Goods Act etc. on the Which? website and have a word with the shop manager or online retailer. I find it useful to take a printed copy of relevant information, particularly something that confirms that the retailer and not the manufacturer is responsible for dealing with the problem. A missing receipt is not essential and a credit card statement, for example, can be used as evidence of purchase.

Admin

Beko brand is no good i bought fridge freezer 2 years ago for my 2nd home only used it wants and it does not work light comes on but not working. Customer services very bad never will buy this brand again nor my family members.

i will stick to Samsung brand from know on

better design
better quality
better after care

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Admin

An update for you: A house fire which led to the death of a 36-year-old father of two was caused by a faulty Beko fridge freezer, it was announced today.

The coroner leading the inquest has today made a number of recommendations to ensure greater protection for consumers. Among these is the recommendation that manufacturers could face a prison sentence if they fail to notify authorities of a fault.

http://www.which.co.uk/news/2014/09/beko-fridge-freezer-caused-fatal-fire-inquest-finds-380902/

I’d be interested to hear what you think.

Profile photo of wavechange
Admin

Thanks Patrick.

It is very likely that many of the same model of Beko fridge-freezers are still in use, yet I can find no mention of a recall on the Beko website.

There was a huge recall of dishwashers – mainly sold under the Bosch brand name – following some kitchen fires: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2013/03/bosch-neff-and-siemens-re-issue-dishwasher-safety-notice-314647/.

Here are some suggestions for what can be done:

1. Improve the design, avoiding flammable materials. For example, in a fridge-freezer, the compressor is in a metal case, so is not a fire hazard. If a defrost timer could be a fire hazard, put that in a metal case too.

2. Encourage everyone to register appliances so that they can be contacted if a safety fault is detected. Ban manufacturers from collecting information for other purposes. For example, when wanted to register a Russell Hobbs kettle I was asked for information (even my salary) for marketing purposes. Perhaps product registration for recall purposes should be handled by a central body, funded by the manufacturers.

3. Raise awareness of recalls. Electrical Safety First provides information about recalls since 2007: http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

4. Require manufacturers to put a link to recalls on the HOMEPAGE of their websites. Bosch has information about the dishwasher recall but you see this only if you look at their dishwasher page and then click on a link. I suspect that manufacturers are not too keen on the public reading about recalls.

5. Discourage the public from leaving kitchen appliances running unattended, especially overnight.

6. Encourage the fitting of kitchen smoke detectors in an accessible place, so that they can be silenced if set off by cooking.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Admin

There should, of course, be a penalty when a manufacturer’s negligence causes a death. The problem always has been finding any individual who can be found to be solely at fault. Usually several people at least will be responsible in some way for design issues, for example, so a prison sentence would be hard to enforce. If the manufacturer is overseas, even harder. Fines and compensation simply come out of revenue. In practice perhaps the worst penalty that can be applied is to ensure the negligence is widely publicised.

Admin
John Medcraft says:
6 April 2015

i have a beko fridge/freezer model number ap930 on the control panel only on the fridge side the numbers are fliking round all the time

Admin
John Medcraft says:
6 April 2015

i have a beko fridge/freeze model number ap930 on the fridge side the temperature indicator numbers are fliking all the time can you please help

Admin
Craig fellows says:
1 August 2015

I had a problem with the freezer on my Beko which was brought second hand just two weeks earlier, so when googling for help I found the articles relating to the fires in London I checked the model and found mine was one of the affected models. I contacted Beko via their web site and logged all details including post code. Eventually a third party engineer came out, took one look at the back and said “this has been fixed already” at which I was quite surprised as I had provided the exact serial number when logging the problem to Beko. He said this happened loads of times when he was going out to repair these Beko devices. He did also comment that it wasn’t done completely properly and proceeded to wrap some kind of foil tape around the timer that has been replaced. This seems a false to me that Beko seems to have no record of where they are with replacements, indeed I bet mine has been classed as 2 unit repairs to distort the numbers.

I have since thrown the unit away having more horrific comments on this website I cannot take such a risk with this manufacturers products. This whole experience has cost me over £600 to sort out and I now have a nice Samsung unit installed having followed Which advice as I should have done in the first place. I was only trying to get a quick cheap replacement for our breakdown until I had enough money to buy a new one. Buy cheap…buy twice!!!