/ Home & Energy

Update: will the government take action on Whirlpool?

fire risk dryer

In January, we launched our campaign to challenge Whirlpool over its fire-risk dryers. And the response has been overwhelming with a parliamentary petition calling for a recall of Whirlpool dryers hitting 100,000 signatures. So what now?

We’ve been talking about this safety issue for months now, monitoring its progress and listening to your experiences. Here on Which? Conversation many of you have shared your concerns – some of you being affected owners and others discussing the wider safety issues.

And it’s clear that nearly all of you share our concerns and that this has dragged on for far too long.

Getting action from government

Whirlpool has been aware of the problem for at least 15 months now. Yet many customers with affected Hotpoint, Indesit, Proline, Swan and Creda branded tumble dryers are still waiting for their machine to be repaired.

We think it’s time to push this up the government’s agenda. The government isn’t doing enough to tackle the problems with the product safety system, with Whirlpool’s handling of its fire-risk dryers being just one example of this.

We need the government to take this issue more seriously, and to do that we want MPs to be given the opportunity to press the government in Parliament.

To make this happen we’re backing the parliamentary petition calling on the government to take action on Whirlpool – but we need your help.

If we can get this petition to 100,000 signatures before May 2017, it will be considered for a debate in Parliament. But we need you, your friends, your family and your colleagues to help get this debate secured and push this safety issue higher up the government’s agenda.

Time is running out

The fact is that fire-risk dryers are still in people’s homes, and the modification programme isn’t delivering solutions fast enough.

Last month, we spoke to Sharna, whose mum owned an affected Indesit dryer. For Sharna and her family the opportunity for a repair came too late. In October 2016, a London Fire Brigade investigation found that a fire at a Shepherds Bush tower block, where Sharna lived, was caused by a faulty Indesit dryer.

That dryer was awaiting inspection as part of Whirlpool’s modification programme. Their home and their belongings were destroyed and they are still unable to return home today.

It’s high-time the government steps up for safety’s sake.

Update: 28 February 2017

The government has posted its response to the petition calling for a recall of Whirlpool-branded fire-risk dryers.

This response has been expected since the petition passed the minimum threshold of 10,000 signatures, which was a little over two weeks ago. If we can get this petition to 100,000 signatures by 1 May 2017, then it must be considered for a debate in Parliament – at the time of publishing the petition stands at 57,374.

The government has stated that when it comes to product safety it thinks consumers should ‘reasonably expect clear advice on how to safely use products in their home, and prompt and effective action should be taken if a safety issue is identified’.

The government notes that despite the 1.5 million affected registered dryers there are still many unregistered and unmodified dangerous dryers in the UK.

The response also highlights that Margot James, the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, has called on Whirlpool to progress with its repair programme and improve communications with consumers. The Minister has expressed concerns about reaching consumers with affected machines who’ve not yet registered for a repair or replacement.

But, we believe it’s time a full recall was issued.

If you own a Hotpoint, Indesit, Proline, Swan or Creda tumble dryer which you purchased before October 2015 then your dryer could be affected by this safety warning.

Last week we reported that the safety advice for affected dryers has now been revised. Those with affected dryers need to unplug the dryer and stop using the machine until it has been modified.

Check to see if your dryer is affected and find out what your rights are here.

Update: 24 April 2017

The parliamentary petition calling for a full recall of all Whirlpool UK fire-risk dryers reached 100,000 signatures. Before the General Election was called, the petition had to pass this required threshold by 30th April to be considered for a debate in Parliament.

Alex Neill, our Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said:

‘This huge level of public support is a powerful indication that Whirlpool needs to be held to account for its completely inadequate handling of the tumble dryer safety issue.

‘There are still millions of potentially life threatening machines in people’s homes. The next government must act swiftly to force a full product recall of all affected machines to prevent further risk to the safety of consumers and their homes.’

As a General Election has been called and Parliament will dissolve next week, we’ll be picking up with MPs following the election on pressing for this petition to be considered for a debate.

The support for both the parliamentary petition and our own campaign to force action on fire-risk dryers sends a clear message that Whirlpool needs to act in the best interest of consumers and fully recall these potentially dangerous dryers.

Sadly, the battle doesn’t end here – we’ll be continuing to call for a full product recall of these dangerous dryers.

Update: 6 September 2017

A Hotpoint dryer has been blamed as the likely case of flat fire. Denbighshire coroner’s court has concluded that a Hotpoint tumble dryer was the most likely cause of a flat fire which sadly killed two men in Llanrwst in October 2014.

A survivor of the flat fire, Gary Lloyd Jones, told the hearing that on the night of the fire he saw flames coming from the tumble dryer.

The Assistant Coroner found that the fire was likely caused by an electrical fault inside the door of the dryer. The Assistant Coroner, David Lewis, also expressed concerns about the evidence gathered by Whirlpool, the owners of the Hotpoint brand, and dismissed one potential cause proposed by a Whirlpool expert as ‘fanciful’ and ‘unlikely’.

Though we do not yet know the model number of the Hotpoint tumble dryer, we do know that it is one of the dryers affected by the safety notice issued earlier this year following our application for judicial review.

Our Managing Director of Home Products and Services, Alex Neill, said:

‘In the face of the tragic deaths of these two men, Whirlpool can no longer continue to ignore its responsibility for the safety of its customers and must now conduct a full product recall of the potentially lethal tumble dryers in people’s homes across the country.

‘This tragic case shows once again that the product safety system is broken and is potentially putting lives at risk. The government must create a national body that can get unsafe products out of people’s homes.’

We are writing to the coroner to request that he produces a ‘Preventing Future Deaths’ report. This kind of report is produced following an inquest when there is a risk of future deaths happening in a similar way.

We will also be contacting the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to call for a full-product recall of the Hotpoint dryer at the centre of this tragedy.

The government has been too slow to respond to serious incidents – and subsequent reviews – following product-related fires. We want to see urgent changes to the UK’s product safety regime, including the creation of a new national body designed to take control of dangerous situations as they arise and get products out of people’s homes quickly.

Update: 15 September 2017

Disappointingly, Parliament’s Petitions Committee has decided not to debate the petition calling on the government to urge Whirlpool UK to recall all faulty tumble dryers.

Thousands of our campaign supporters signed Andy Slaughter MP’s e-petition in order to force the government to review these dangerous fire-risk dryers. Thank you to those of you who added your name to this petition.

The decision not to go ahead with the debate came despite this e-petition gaining over 100,000 signatures from members of the public.

When deciding which petitions should be debated, the Committee looks at whether the subject has recently been debated in Parliament. In September 2016 there was a debate on faulty fire-risk tumble dryers, the Committee considers this debate to have been sufficient.

We’re disappointed, but this isn’t where our efforts for action on faulty fire-risk dryers will end.

We’re going to continue pressing the government to urgently fix the UK’s broken product safety system, which currently poses grave risks to consumers. We’re calling on the government to take urgent action to put consumers first and to create a new national body to lead on product safety, as well as a genuine ‘one-stop-shop’ to provide authoritative information and advice when dangerous products are identified or recalls are required.

Update: 30 November 2017

Following the inquest into the fire which killed two men in Llanrwst, coroner David Lewis has published a prevention of future deaths report.

In the report, the coroner has raised concerns witnesses called by lawyers for Whirlpool during the hearing had been ‘defensive and dismissive’.

Commenting on the evidence given, Mr Lewis explained:

‘The door switch assembly of interest in this case is used in literally hundreds of thousands of appliances manufactured by Whirlpool.

He added:

‘I did not emerge from the hearing confident that Whirlpool’s risk assessment processes have fully identified or appreciated the extent of the risk of fire (and its potential consequences).’

Whirlpool now has 56 days to respond to the report. In its response, it must explain details of action taken or proposed to action to take, or explain why it will take no action at all.

Our managing director of home products and services, Alex Neill, said:

‘The Coroner’s report exposes the fundamental failings of Whirlpool’s handling of unsafe products. The Government should urgently investigate if this is a breach of the company’s obligations under product safety law and immediately enforce a full product recall of all remaining fire risk tumble dryers in people’s home.

‘This case is further evidence that the UK’s product safety regime is simply not fit-for-purpose and must be reformed, with the creation of a new national body to lead on issues of this nature.’

Do you expect the government to take action on this safety issue?

Comments
Guest
Adrian says:
18 September 2017

I understand that it was a faulty appliance that caused Grenfill Tower. Where an issue is identified recalls must be made – lives are at risk. If they are lost due to manufacturer inaction after a potential issue is identified then the manufacturer CEO should face manslaughter charges.Then attitudes would change.

Guest

As far as I am aware, we do not know the nature of the fault in the fridge freezer, and whether it was a product fault, misuse, abuse or some other cause. Ans as far as I know, there have been no reports of other incidents with this model, that I believe was not manufactured after 2009?

I would have thought that as the devastation resulted, seemingly, from the cladding, maybe other building issues, and poor fire evacuation advice, there are others who are culpable in one way or another. What and who are involved is the subject of a public inquiry which should answer at least some of these questions.

Guest
Harry Brown says:
3 October 2017

In so much as there have been 2 debates about manufactures and appliance safety leading up to the Grenfell tower inferno.
Does this now mean that Her Majesty and her Government are now culpable suspects in this matter as many questions around the inferno as yet go unanswered?
My fear is they will never be answered as the objective of removing a community from their homes through an act of genocide has been met, or at best this will be another Hillsborough with no real answers just a few men scapegoats at the end of a very long drawn out process costing the men/women of this country dearly!

Heads must roll and it must be from the top down “vive la revolution!”

Guest
bishbut says:
19 September 2017

Who really decides “government” things ? MPS , advisors ,some unknown civil ” serpent” or who ? Does anyone actually know ? The “government” gets the blame but who is the actual government ?

Guest

Another “nail on the head” Bishbut. At one time we were “government by a King/Queen , then Lords+Ladies -ie-the Gentry who “knew ” how to govern correctly ( in their eyes ) .Then we had members of Parliament voted in by us supposedly to carry out our wishes . Now we are governed by global big business which aligns with the City and American conglomerates

Guest

Government is short term (maybe “up to” 5 years) comprised of a mix of dedicated people and self-seekers with political ambitions, so I don’t expect them to be the best people to handle issues such as this. They should be using the Civil Service and other permanent public bodies to ensure such problems are looked at on a consistent and continuous basis and not subjected to short term political advantage. The government did write a couple of letters to the Hotpoint CEO, but to no effect, it seems.

If Trading Standards did their job properly – they are charged with protecting consumers – we would not have been in this situation. Time we consumers required this organisation to be properly resourced. Is Which? going to campaign for it to happen?

Guest
Malcolm Firth says:
19 September 2017

It is disappointing to hear that the committee has turned down the request for a debate given the pathetic response of the minister in the members debate. I have asked the Secretary to let me know how many members of this Committee have received Hospitality from Whirlpool or its Lobbyist in the past two years

Guest

“The Petitions Committee decided not to debate this petition
The Petitions Committee has decided not to schedule a debate on this petition. When it decides which petitions should be debated, the Committee looks at whether the subject has recently been debated in Parliament.

There was a debate on 13 September 2016 on the fire risk from faulty tumble dryers.

You can read the transcript of the debate here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-09-13/debates/BC9CE4E0-44BD-489F-ACA1-3784C3042190/FaultyTumbleDryers(FireRisk)

You can watch the debate here: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/5ad0cd3c-06cd-4e3f-b6a2-0a9c6d62b6f0?in=18:38:53

There was also a debate on Whirlpool and the product safety system on 26 April 2017.

You can read the transcript of the debate here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2017-04-26/debates/36405B15-798E-4CF6-9C27-3EC0D3BC7D87/WhirlpoolProductSafetySystem

You can watch the debate here: http://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/17a8cdd3-f391-49c2-83a1-4e4dd1f3c363

In any case, it is far too late for a debate – just more hot air. Decisive action was required nearly two years ago.

Guest
christine porter says:
21 September 2017

as i was contacted by whirlpool and as to get back to them i did so and when they contacted me they gave me a chose buy a new one for £99 or they would come and update my old one as i had mine for 7/8 years i took the new one and as thy have have had adverts in the news paper and other places i cant see what all the fuse is about and why should the government have to intervene whirlpool are doing there best so i say from a 72 year old lady thank you whirlpool

Guest

I don’t think everyone would agree with you, Christine. Some people have have had house fires while waiting for Whirlpool to take action. The company initially said that it was OK for owners to carry on using their machines if not left unattended, which was remarkably poor advice that the company was told to change.

Guest

A good choice Christine particularly for an appliance that was outside the scope of the Sale of Goods Act, that only gives protection for 6 years.

However, from day one, all affected owners should have been either given a reasonable date by which their appliance would be modified, or a replacement machine, or an appropriate refund. The big problem in my view, was that none of this, for the majority, was done within a reasonable time, and it was not enforced by Peterborough Trading Standards. Those with appliances that fell within the scope of SoGA should, I believe, have been advised to require their retailer to make appropriate redress; the appliances were unsafe, and therefore quite clearly did not meet the legal requirement.

Guest
Yvonne says:
6 October 2017

I had the indesit dryer which was subject to the fire risk. I decided to buy the £99 replacement dryer and they take my fire risk machine only to find that this new replacement broke down within weeks. I contacted hotpoint who eventually refunded me £99 but at the end of the day 18 months later I still have no dryer. They took my original working dryer and replaced it with a faulty one and they say it’s resolved. That surely isn’t fair

Guest

No, it isn’t. It seems to me they have sold you a drier and are therefore under an obligation to abide by the Consumer Rights Act. You, the customer, appear to have the right to reject the appliance for a full refund, or to require a repair or replacement. Not the supplier. Perhaps Which? Legal could give their opinion.

Guest

I would suggest contacting Citizens Advice. Hopefully it is a mistake or misunderstanding and can be resolved quickly.

Guest
Gordon says:
14 October 2017

[Sorry, your comment has been removed to align with our community guidelines https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

Guest


[Sorry, your comment has been removed to align with our community guidelines
https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

Guest

duncan, I cannot understand the first part of your post. As far as steel is concerned, the structure depended upon it for its integrity. Steel loses strength when it gets hot (which is why any steel beams in your home should be clad in plasterboard for example. That is what caused the collapse.

Guest

Sorry malcolm I spent a few years studying this and any metallurgist will tell you the type of beams used in the Towers couldn’t possibly be melted by fire from jet fuel .I know for a fact you wont believe me the same as I said some years ago but I do have an accumulated storage (off-line ) of all the data but just to give you something to think about .Would you believe Bsc in metallurgy a Ph D in Material science +Engineering or a B.S.Ch.E Chemical Engineer or a LEad Engineer of the NIST Report WTC Structural Engineer another Chemical engineer another Bachelor in Metallurgy Engineering another civil Structural Engineer a Professional mechanical Engineer -A MASTER and Ph.D in Chemical Engineering – A materials Science Engineer . Malcolm you are can Engineer please read the whole web-page and I have many more . Its got coloured pictures etc : http://thewe.cc/weplanet/news/americas/us-/911-controlled-demolition-twin-towers-direct-evidence-of-

Guest

Occam’s razor, Duncan. Fly a fuel-filled passenger jet into any skyscraper built the way the twin towers was built and it will collapse. And your link doesn’t work. And don’t forget Malcolm is a professionally qualified engineer.

Guest

The link doesn’t work because I ran out of room on my browsers Ian but the Professionals that are at the other end of it with coloured photos and strings of letters after their names put not only their views on it they allowed their photos to be used on the article . These aren’t small-fry obscure people well known in the USA . I will try to get the end part of the URL. That website had the same type of photos that Wavechange posted in his posts on fires in dryers but they examined the metal using the latest million dollar spectrographs and other instruments I wouldn’t have posted it if Gordon hadn’t posted his post , but the penny dropped right away .I look forward to his comments on the latest US government explosives . By the way where was the supposed plane that hit the Pentagon ? no sign of it anywhere . .The head of Defence of attacks like this wasn’t coordinating any reply or aerial investigation he was out helping the wounded etc .

Guest

As malcolm said, steel loses its strength when hot.

Duncan seems to infer that this only happens if you approach the melting point of steel – but that is incorrect.

Any farrier or blacksmith should be able to demonstrate that the application of heat makes it easier to bend and shape steel (whether or not they have letters after their name).

Guest

Duncan: I watched the entire thing unfold in real time and the one thing I asked myself as it was happening was exactly when the towers would crumble. As for the ‘missing’ pentagon plane, they found the black boxes,the nose cone, landing gear, an aeroplane tyre, an intact cockpit seat, all of which were observed at the crash site. The remains of passengers from the aircraft were also found at the Pentagon crash site and their identities confirmed by DNA analysis.

It was real.

Guest

I have worked with steel all my life what you are suggesting is that equal heat applied to all sides of the towers and burnt through each section vertically at equal heat so that the seemingly impossible happened they collapsed beautifully vertical in both towers . Impossible unless controlled explosions took place , ask ant demolisher . I saw many buildings made of Girder’s after being fire bombed after WW2 -twisted metal not ONE of them collapsed beautifully vertical . law of Physics doesn’t change for political expediency .

Guest

But did you ever investigate the construction of the towers? The designer had adopted a novel approach, centring the strength of the building entirely on the centrally-situated lift shafts. They were strong but the rest of the building wasn’t. When I was last in the two towers I was struck by two things: the apparent flimsiness of the construction – almost entirely glass with almost no decent hefty girders at all in the walls that I could see, and the second thing was the pendulum display on the top floor, where it swayed gently backwards and forwards. When I enquired as to what it was doing, she told me ‘Nothing; it’s the building that’s moving”.

The point of all this is to tell you that I was there (obviously not during the attacks) and it surprised me that it stayed up as it was, not that it collapsed so quickly and so neatly. I suspect that the lift shafts controlled the dispersal of the falling building. But flimsy – certainly.

Guest

As my posts still get moved down baring no relationship I too will post out of relationship .Ian I am not saying the pentagon wasn’t bombed but where was the plane ? Even Bill Clinton admitted it was bombed quote- (in relation to George Bush ) you have to deal with the incoming fire —nobody said what are you going to do when the twin towers come down and the Pentagon is bombed.

Guest

Passenger jets that hit solid objects the size of the Pentagon’s outer walls don’t break into large, easily discernible pieces. They fragment into tiny, minute sections, because a huge amount of energy is released in the collision. Watch Air Accident Investigations. It may surprise you.

Guest

Duncan: please provide proof (other than conspiracists’ youtube channels where video and sound can very easily be changed) of what you claim about Bill Clinton.

Guest

Hi, unfortunately we’ve had to remove the first couple of comments in this thread because they didn’t align with our community guidelines- https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/

Sorry for any loss of context.

It’s great to see an in depth discussion like this, but could this be moved to The Lobby please, it’s a bit off-topic from the conversation.

Thanks

Guest

Alex: how easy is it for you as administrators to move an entire tranche of posts from one topic to another? I ask, because the facility exists in all forums and in this case the entire sub-thread would benefit from being moved to the Lobby. It’s an odd phenomenon, but often it’s almost impossible simply to continue elsewhere if the entire sub-thread isn’t moved in one go.

Guest

Hi Ian, I’ve just double checked and unfortunately this is something that we can’t do – as far as we are aware the system doesn’t allow this. What I might suggest is putting the link from this thread into The Lobby so that people who may be joining the discussion can see where and how it initiated, to keep the context. The link to this thread is:

https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/hotpoint-indesit-dryer-fire-andy-slaughter/#comment-1504076

I hope this helps 🙂

Guest

Thanks, Alex. I wondered if WordPress allowed it. PHPMyAdmin might be able to do it directly on the database, but it would need Paul to write a detailed subroutine to handle it. Thanks anyway.