/ 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
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.

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.

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!”

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 ?

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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?

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

“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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.]

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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.

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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.

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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).

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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

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.

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 🙂

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.

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Yes I do, Duncan, and I remember asking for the exact URL to verify the truth of what you believed. You never provided it.

Guys, you may find answers @ en.m.wikipedia.org – Collapse of the World Trade Center.

“The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) determined that diesel fuel did not play an important role……………..”

I wasn’t sure why the NIST report mentioned Diesel fuel. Commercial Aviation fuel is spirit and very similar to Paraffin.

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If you read the report, Duncan, you can see it explains what happened in precise detail. The final report is very long, but the important detail is here:

“Simple analyses revealed that, alone or in combination, these construction framing features had the potential to produce initial local fire-induced failures resulting from ordinary building contents fires on a tenant floor. The northeast corner of WTC 7 had columns that supported large floor areas and many of the construction details shown to be of importance. A finite element analysis of the northeast corner of the building, representing the framing of a lower tenant floor, verified that the following fire-induced failures were possible:

Significant lateral deflections (movement) of the girder produced by thermal elongation of the floor beams,
Failure of shear studs on the floor beams,
Shear failure of the erection bolts fastening the girder to the seated connections,
Failure of single shear plate (fin) connections attaching the floor beams to the girder, and Girder sliding off its seat connection.:”

Their conclusion was that the cause of the collapse was a combination of poor design and the aircraft fires.

On the myth of explosive being detonated the same report says: “Thus, from this study, NIST concluded that blast events could not have occurred and found no evidence of any blast events.”

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Well, confirmatory bias, to be accurate but the NIST report used independent professors and specialists to arrive at their conclusions, Duncan.

” if only the evidence that favors one conclusion is allowed then that is biased judgement”

Yes – that is exactly the point here – urban myths, false facts and conspiracy theories all thrive from the basis of that principle.

Indeed.

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http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/jom/0112/eagar/eagar-0112.html

Here is another discussion on the collapse of the twin towers. It points out that it is not temperature that is important but heat. This had two principal effects on the steel structure (note – structure, that supports the building). It raised the steel temperature and, in so doing, reduced its strength. It was not uniform heating, so different parts of the structure expanded by different amounts. This combination led to the imbalance and failure of the buildings.

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If you have ever watched structures being demolished, they usually fall vertically – try blocks of flats or chimneys. There is no sideways force to push the building over, it is largely gravity acting when the structure is no longer able to support the weight of the bits hung on it. That is my take on what happened. Particularly when the loss of strength, and the wight of the falling materials, commenced high up the building and not near the base.

Just looked at the title of this Convo, and it seems to have nothing to do with Whirlpool. Is it not once again a candidate for The Lobby if it is to continue? It wasn’t a tumble drier that caused the planes to crash into the towers.

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I spend a certain amount of my professional time peer reviewing journal articles and conference papers.

Most of these are written by folk who are qualified with Degrees /Masters/Professorships at an extremely high level etc. However, that fact alone does not prevent them from making mistakes, or expressing controversial opinions.

One of the basic principles of science, is that ideas are published and then either accepted or rejected after peer checking. So the process can be adversarial, but any cross examination usually goes hand-in-hand with a high degree of professional courtesy.

Just recently, one of my colleagues shared an academic paper about the sizing of very small nuclear reactors. This started with one or two particular assertions, and then expanded from there. From the basis of other papers and data that I have, I knew that those assertions were open to challenge, and that anyone who had performed a comprehensive study of pre-existing open literature should also known that. So, Professors and others are not infallible.

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In response to Derek’s post, far from it, in fact. And we still don’t know the names and experience of all those “US Professionals who have achieved prominence in the areas of their expertise and who are qualified with Degrees /Masters/Professorships at an extremely high level ” to whom you refer, Duncan. Read Malcolm’s linked site. It explains most of your questions.

Duncan: evidence was brought in from any reputable sources that could usefully contribute. If you post the names and websites on which these people who were banned from contributing are listed, I’m sure we’ll be able to reach a sensible conclusion.

But if you stop for a minute, and consider what you’re saying, do you really believe that a) no planes actually hit the towers – it was all faked? or b) Planes hit the towers and then a secret government organisation rushed into the burning towers and carefully secured around 100 tons of high explosive to the optimum locations?

There’s a site here you should read.

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I was only asking exactly what it was you think happened. But on a technical point cell net ‘phones worked reliably on the roof of the twin towers. I was there and saw folk using them, and that was a couple of years beforehand and higher than the plane sruck.

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They are allocated flight levels by ATC. They’re not ‘guided’ in the strict sense and can ignore ARC if they so wish. But you also should remember that incompetence can play a major role – as the recently declassified documents relating to the sinking of HMS Sheffield clearly demonstrate. Now, perhaps, it couldn’t happen, but back then US military weren’t expecting attacks, and weren’t generally happy about shooting down passenger jets – even if they were off course.

Error

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Melted metal was determined as aluminium from the plane, not steel. At least, in what I read (and it made sense).
But i thought this discussion was moving to the lobby. It has nothing to do with Hotpoint.

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So what you’re saying, Duncan, is that your ‘evidence’ has all disappeared? There was a piece last night about how the young are having to be taught how to separate the misinformation and conspiracy theories on the web presented as fact from genuine news and information. Might be worth watching.

We’ve been asked to move this thread to The Lobby.

The Hotpoint dryer Convo seems to have died, but I’d like to know what action on a proper recall system is going to be lobbied for by Which? so we have more chance of tackling defective products in future.

I’d also like to know just where Whirlpool now are in “completing” their programme of repair, replace or redress after 2 years of unreasonable delay and inconvenience to many.

Hi Malcolm, we have now written to the coroner to request a ‘Preventing Future Deaths’report. We are currently waiting for this report to be presented, at which point we will then be making decisions on our next steps of the campaign. We hope to be able to update you in the coming weeks.

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Hello, I just want to jump in here and remind you all that this conversation is off-topic and you have been asked to continue this discussion, if you would like to, over on The Lobby. As a gentle reminder can you please ensure your comments are friendly, we don’t have to agree on Convo but we do ask that disagreements aren’t written in a way that could upset other community members.

Any further off-topic comments will be removed for breaking community guidelines. Thanks

@ldeitz, thanks Lauren. Beat me to it 🙂

Hi, all comments after Lauren’s request to stay on-topic have been removed for breaking the community guidelines. We have copied your thread to The Lobby, if you wish to continue your discussion please do so there. Thank you

@awhittle, Alex, could you repeat your request to use the Lobby for this topic so hopefully we might get back to Hotpoint? 🙂
duncan, may I suggest you open a thread in The Lobby if you think the Twin Towers conspiracy is worth pursuing? 🙂

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I can see why you reacted, Duncan, but why not just report the post, which was clearly off-topic and made potentially offensive claims? If three people report a post then it will be removed, pending investigation by the moderators. I believe that this happens automatically and does not depend on moderators being on duty. Incidentally, I did not report your post or any of the others.

Anyone who has lost their home or a friend in the Grenfell Tower fire might not be impressed by all the discussion about the World Trade Centre.

I’ve moved my response to The Lobby

Hello, please can any further replies be posted here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/the-lobby/#comment-1504235

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I understand. Assuming that three reports automatically hide a reported post, I’m surprised that it did not disappear promptly.

The intro ends (nearly) “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.”

This is the point I made at 10:47 today and one I believe needs dealing with. It requires a “when, how and by whom”, not just a “yes or no”.

But that is simply a statement. It doesn’t pose a question. There are two ways to deal with that: either call or email Which? directly or ask “when, how and by whom” in the topic. But I don’t see how W? can answer that; in effect they’ve described their long term aim – not their objectives. We can either say “Yes – Great!” or “No – bad idea.” Asking them to provide the details you’re posing when they’re possibly only now formulating the plan is expecting rather a lot.

But the question posed was Do you expect the government to take action on this safety issue?. And that only requires a Yes or No response. Or maybe a maybe.

Yes or No is often far too crude an answer to a question like this. We need to know what sort of action.
As far as “when they’re possibly only now formulating the plan” we have been debating the recall question for many months now. I’d like to see proposals put forward, rather than interminable chat.

“will the government take action on Whirlpool?”

No they won’t.

But, if by some fluke they do, it will be too little and far too late.

Well, it’s been smouldering for a few months and now burst into flames again, if BBC Watchdog is right. One or two examples of modified dryers catching fire due to fluff reaching the element.

I’ve been asking exactly what modification was made, but Which? seemed not to know. It now appears, according to Watchdog, to rely on a pop rivet cleaning the rear drum seal as it rotates to prevent fluff reaching the element – where the fires have started. As an engineer I like elegant and simple solutions to problems but this one seems to depend too much on the care taken by the person doing the mod, and whether it will really last or gradually wear away the seal, or, as alleged, allow fluff to still pass. But that is just my speculation and there has been far too much of this.

What was needed was independently verified testing to demonstrate the modification was capable of being done accurately, repeatedly, and would be effective in the long term. Peterborough Trading Standards were responsible for overseeing and signing off Whirlpool’s method. Did they see this method was properly verified? Who (Which? perhaps) has asked them for the supporting evidence?

Which?, on Watchdog, said they had just acquired a modified machine and tested it. Within 2 minutes it caught fire. I asked Which? repeatedly a couple of years ago if it would test an unmodified dryer to see if it actually met the international standard, and a modified dryer to see if it worked. Did anyone bother to do this? Or ask another organisation – TS or the Government – to see this was properly done?

The way this saga has been dealt with by everyone involved has been a shambles. Peterborough Trading Standards role should be investigated as, in my view, they have been incompetent and not acted in the best interests of the consumers they are paid to protect.

Whirlpool said it was impractical to replace all affected dryers. Fair enough if a modification worked, was durable, and had been done in a reasonable time. That might all be in doubt.

Condenser and vented tumble driers have been going on fire since long before the affected Whirlpool models were introduced. The heaters operate at high temperature and any fluff or lint that comes in contact will go on fire. I learned about the risk when I was a student, and now I’m retired.

A heat pump drier is inherently safer because it does not have a high temperature heater. I don’t own a tumble dryer but if I was going to buy one I would go for a heat pump dryer. They are widely available from many manufacturers and cost more to buy but less to run.

The Whirlpool/Indesit problem was very much out of the ordinary.

Around a third of the tumble dryers tested by Which? are heat pump models. Now that they are widely available, I think it’s time to phase out condenser and vented models because of the well established risk of fluff and lint igniting in dryers with a high temperature heater.

The risk is very very small and there are many millions successfully working. If there were deemed to be a problem we could have low temperature heaters in all machines. We don’t need the extra cost of a heat pump dryer that many might not be able to afford.

However, this all distracts form the main focus – how to deal with the exceptional problem Indesit have created, how those involved should look to improving their handling of such problems in future, and what we do about the Indesit et al dryers that have still not been modified and the claim that the modification may not be effective.

Those who have lost their homes as a result of fire may disagree, Malcolm. If you take into account the fact that many don’t own a tumble dryer, these appliances are at greater risk of going on fire than other white goods.

There are 10 times as many fires due to cooking appliances. However, that is not the point. This Convo is about “will the government take action on Whirlpool?” and that is what I would like to see dealt with. There are other Convos dealing with appliance safety in general.

I’ve just received notification of a recall of a Whirlpool gas hob due to a small risk of carbon monoxide poisoning: https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/product-recalls/2018/04/whirlpool-akm-274ix-gas-hobs/ The problem is that some hobs had the wrong injector fitted in one of the burners.

Compulsory registration at the time of sale would ensure almost everyone received such a recall notice, not just the minority who chose to register. i hope Which? actively supports this.

We have posted numerous comments but Which? has not given us any indication of how a system might work. We need a system that will provide information to owners of secondhand products too. Both my Bosch dishwasher and Bosch gas hob look similar to ones affected by a recall and a safety notice, respectively although on checking, neither needed attention. Had they been affected it’s unlikely that I would have been informed.

Compulsory registration at the point of sale would be valuable but we need a more comprehensive system.

We need a good start that will cover the vast majority of people. Doing nothing, or waiting till a perfect all embracing system has been devised, gets us nowhere The nettle needs to be grasped.

That implies that those who have secondhand products are treated as second-class citizens. 🙁

No it does not. It means setting up a system and developing it, not prevaricating.

Setting up an inadequate system would be a waste of money and simply delay setting up an adequate system. Let’s leave it there and continue the discussion in a more appropriate Convo.

How long has it been going on already? Time we did something that would address the vast majority and add others when a workable system was proven. Why introduce possible delay when the major step – compulsory registration when you buy a new product – could be started now?

Can we stop now and return to the key topic? Perhaps Which? will resurrect a Convo on this, or maybe we could use “What’s your view on the government’s new product safety office?https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/product-safety-government-beis/

Half-hearted solutions do not work. It’s one reason why politicians come in for so much criticism. Had a proper system been in place several years ago, the owners of the Whirlpool tumble dryers could have been alerted to the need for modification or replacement. I have little doubt that many unmodified dryers are still in use by people who are unaware of the problem.

More like 99’9% hearted, not half. However, I’d like to leave this and return to my main concerns
– what is the evidence that the Whirlpool modification is not safe?
– what investigation is taking place into Peterborough Trading Standards’ handling of the whole Whirlpool debacle – so we learn how to do it properly in future?

Peterborough Trading Standards is acting as a Primary Authority for discussions with Whirlpool. As far as I am aware it has no role in supporting consumers or investigation of the safety of products.

My view is that BSI should investigate unmodified and modified dryers, even if this is not their normal role. Investigating problems would be very relevant to producing improved standards.

Each EU state is responsible for ensuring product safety legislation is enforced and has a nominated authority to do this. In the UK this role is delegated to Trading Standards. It has a responsibility to protect consumers and do what is necessary to achieve that.

BSI has absolutely no responsibility in this area. It takes part in developing international standards and in providing test house facilities for particular products. Any independent test house could be asked to investigate unsafe appliances and report to the policing authority. It seems to me quite clear that if Trading Standards are to approve a method of dealing with a problem, as PTS did, they should do so on a sound basis. It is their job. It is not Which?’s job, but testing a dryer as they apparently did recently is something I am fully prepared to support, in part, from my annual subscription.

In order to improve standard it’s necessary to study failures, not just leave others to do the job. I’m well aware that this not the current role of BSI and other standards organisations but I want to see improvements.

It’s good to see that Which? and BBC Watchdog are collaborating over this issue but perhaps BSI should have been invited to see evidence of the problem. https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/04/which-and-watchdog-find-failings-in-whirlpools-fire-risk-tumble-dryer-fix/

I expect the many experts on the BSI committees will study failures as part of their normal work. The committee’s role is to make use of this expertise, knowledge and experience from all involved. anyone can contribute to BSI’s work. I hope that which? are now doing so.

Is there any evidence that BSI has studied failures of tumble dryers sold under the brands now owned by Whirlpool? I have not seen any.

Here is some interesting information about fires in white goods, compiled by the London Fire Brigade: https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/fires-in-london—cause-of-ignition-is-white-goods Although the Whirlpool brands (Hotpoint, Indesit, etc) feature prominently, these data show the fires occur in a variety of brands of tumble dryers.

I forgot to mention that there is frequent mention of plastics in these data. It’s a pity we don’t have more detail.

wavechange – There is nothing in the linked article to indicate Which? and the BBC are collaborating.

You are right Patrick. It was wishful thinking.

Patrick – Maybe there is some collaboration after all. I have just watched the most recent Watchdog programme on iPlayer and Which? Campaigns Manager Neena Bhati makes an appearance. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0b121zf/watchdog-series-39-episode-2 We are told that Which? obtained a modified drier last month, sent it into ‘the lab’ for testing and it promptly caught fire, so that Which? now has concerns about the safety of the modification.

No-one from Which? has bothered to post anything on this Conversation and we have to find information from a consumer programme on TV.

Maybe I should give up on Which? regarding my concerns about the fire risk of using plastics in the cases of appliances and contact Watchdog instead.

I loathed Watchdog when presented by the harridan but she has gone and the programme is useful. To my regret I never passed to them my experience of Sixt charging the full Tfl penalty charge and them paying the reduced penalty charge to Tfl.

Fraud or accidental or system design? Anyway I quoted bailee for reward to them and got the money back. Funny what legal knowledge one retains.

That was what put me off the programme too. Having occasionally watched Watchdog I still find it annoying. For example, in the same programme there is a feature on rogue trader, split into three parts. I find this as annoying as when Classic FM plays the first movement of a piece of music and follows this with a babbling presenter or adverts.

The rogue trader is allowed to tackle a plumbing job and despite the fact that the price is excessive, he is paid – presumably from our licence fees. Then he is set up to do work on a gas boiler despite having been struck off the Gas Safe Register. He is challenged with working illegally, yet we are not told that action will be taken against him.

Maybe if Which? was to work with Watchdog the combined strengths could be shared and we could see actual progress being achieved.

@jbamforth, Jen, I understand Which? have recently tested a Whirlpool/Indesit tumble dryer that was declared unsafe by Whirlpool, modified by them, and then found to catch fire. Can Which? provide full details of the modification made and the tests they carried out on the drier?

I wish you every success in your request malcolm. As we have asked many times over several years for this sort of technical detail/breakdown from Which? I am pessimistic.

I must admit I do not comprehend why these rather basic machines are not stripped down to show people the danger derived from faulty design.

Regarding Watchdog – according to Wikipedia : “On Wednesday 25th April 2018 BBC One television consumer show Watchdog broadcast further allegations regarding Whirlpool’s safety recall of tumble dryers. The show explained how tumble dryers that had already been modified and supposedly made safe we’re still catching fire. Furthermore, newer models which were deemed “safe” by Whirlpool were actually being manufactured with the same flaws of previous unsafe models. BBC Watchdog attempted to speak to a spokesman from Whirlpool but the company did not provide anyone to answer these allegations on the show.”

It would be good to get a useful response Patrick.

There was a video on the Sun website that was a bit puzzling. Someone had taken a dryer outside, set it running, filmed it (I couldn’t see any clothes inside) and – coincidentally perhaps – the heater element glowed brightly through the back. It was said to have caught fire. Not enough details to really see what happened. i am curious to know how a few seconds filming was made when this unlikely event occurred. and why you could see a glowing element through the glass door panel. I am not familiar with Indesit-type dryers but I cannot see the element on ours in this way.

I’m sure there is a good explanation.

The video showing a faulty Hotpoint dryer, recently published on the Sun website, was made in Wallsend in January 2017. It did not cause a fire, as explained here: https://www.newsflare.com/video/102076/other/hotpoint-tumble-dryer-catches-fire

Overheating can be the result of a failure of the circulating fan but if the dryer has been properly designed a non-resettable thermal fuse should cut off the power. That’s common sense but I don’t know what the standards require.

More from Which? today:

> In nine out of ten (89%) of the calls, the customer service operative failed to give the correct safety instruction, which is to unplug the device

> In six out of ten (60%) calls, the operative also failed to advise the caller not to use the dryer until it had been repaired or replaced, which could potentially expose a customer to the risk of fire

> In nine out of ten cases the caller was not asked for a model code, despite there being high-profile safety alerts about the fire-risk potential of these models.

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/04/retailers-advice-exposes-millions-to-tumble-dryer-fire-danger/ – Which?

I would assume that most people would work out that it is a good idea to unplug an appliance that smells of burning. I wonder what advice the retailers did give.

Retailers do not even appear to know consumer rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (nor SoGA) so we should not be surprised that they got this wrong. However, it is disgraceful that Whirlpool, at the heart of this problem (a “victim” themselves in inheriting the faulty dryers from Indesit when they took them over) are not dealing with this safety issue competently. They say, according to Which?, “Its spokesperson added: ‘We take our responsibilities on product safety matters extremely seriously and all members of our customer care team are thoroughly trained to ensure they provide consumers with the correct advice.“. This is either untrue or they don’t monitor their staff’s performance
Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/04/retailers-advice-exposes-millions-to-tumble-dryer-fire-danger/ – Which?

Which? go on to say “‘We’ve been asking for these machines to be recalled for over a year now and our investigation is yet more evidence that Whirlpool, the Government and retailers are not taking people’s safety seriously.’“. For over a year now I’ve been asking Which? exactly how they expect to get these machines recalled when we do not know who owns them if they have never been registered (and most are not). We need a proper recall system set up a.s.a.p. beginning with, for example, compulsory registration of appropriate appliances at the point of purchase. Are Which? devoting some time to devise some proposals and campaigning for a system?

I have advocated that the charity as opposed to the business Which? Ltd operate a scheme where members log there machines/purchases so long-term testing statistics might be available from members , and of course safety warnings could be sent out to thoses affected. More importantly perhaps if 50 members have a device which is problematic then the charity can be aware earlier and launch an investigation.

And of course the idea that CA had two roving engineers in the UK to investigate and monitor would be quite cheap – say half the CEO’s salary – and would help subscribers and provide content for the magazine plus a warm feeling that the £120 a year has practical benefits.