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Which? launches a judicial review to push for action on Whirlpool

London Fire Brigade

Which? has commenced the formal process to judicially review Peterborough Trading Standards’ handling of the Whirlpool tumble dryer safety issue.

For those unfamiliar with this story, certain lines of Whirlpool tumble dryers sold under the Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Proline and Swan brands are at risk of catching fire.

Back in November, I wrote here on Which? Conversation about Whirlpool’s failings in assisting some customers who have fire-risk tumble dryers in their homes.

I emphasised that we’ve been highlighting the case in the media, meeting with key Government stakeholders and I also promised that we would continue to push hard for this issue to be resolved.

Today, we’ve done just that – by holding Peterborough Trading Standards to account for its role in the fiasco.

Trading Standards’ role

Whirlpool’s UK headquarters are located in Peterborough, so it’s Peterborough City Council’s Trading Standards department that has been dealing with the matter.

It has repeatedly told us that it’s advising Whirlpool in its capacity as Whirlpool’s ‘primary authority’. This is a voluntary arrangement, under which Trading Standards can help a business to comply with consumer protection rules.

When this system works well, it can have good outcomes for consumers and businesses alike. But being a ‘primary authority’ for a business doesn’t mean that a regulator can ignore its duty to enforce the law where this becomes necessary. And in this case, we believe the system has gone badly wrong.

Failing consumers

An investigation by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) recently concluded that a Whirlpool tumble dryer was to blame for a serious tower block fire in Shepherd’s Bush.

In light of the LFB’s report, we would expect Peterborough Trading Standards to put on its enforcement ‘hat’ and consider whether Whirlpool’s handling of the situation remained on the right side of the line.

We believe that Peterborough Trading Standards has failed consumers by not properly carrying out its role as an enforcer of product safety laws.

We’ve filed papers against Peterborough City Council, the Local Authority that the trading standards department forms part of, in the High Court to start this judicial review process.

We expect Peterborough Trading Standards to conduct a fresh, independent assessment of the risks posed to consumers by the millions of faulty Whirlpool tumble dryers that are still in people’s homes, and not shy away from enforcement action if it’s needed.

The court will now determine whether Which? should be granted permission to seek judicial review. If permission is granted, it will lead to a court hearing in 2017.

Product safety system

This case further highlights the many problems with the existing product safety system that is failing consumers and must be reconsidered by the government.

Today, I’ve also written to the Secretary of State, Greg Clark MP, and have discussed my concerns with Consumer Minister, Margot James MP. We want to see action not just in this case, but in all cases where product safety issues could put consumers at risk.


Did you register your appliance with the manufacturer when you purchased it?

yes I did

For a nation at the top of Health & Safety practices, it is disconcerting that legislation to force product recall is too weak such that even Fire Chiefs cannot force Government to legislate manufacturers to immediately refund the customer. Waiting a year for repairs is not acceptable when most of our towns do not have coin operated laundrette any more. I am a safety officer on ships and laundry room is often one of 3 most common areas for fire to start. The others are Engine Room, and the Galley. After Grenfell Tower fire, started by faulty Hotpoint fridge freezer, maybe now the Government may finally listen to us “little people” the voting consumers ? My conclusions are these situation exists due to cost savings and complacency.

I had my tumble dryer modified by Hotpoint about a year ago after a lot of chasing. I still don’t feel safe using it. It makes some really odd noises now.
As my kitchen is tiny, the only place I have room for the dryer is upstairs in my bedroom. I’m frightened to use it now in case it catches fire. If I could afford a new one, I’d cart the damn thing off to the local dump but I’m a single parent and all my wage tends to go on bills and rent.
I will never buy another machine from the Hotpoint/Whirlpool group.
The model I have is a Hotpoint Aquarius TVM570P

I have a recall tumble dryer to which I was most surprised, as it was great nice and quiet did as it said was really happy then hotpoint sent engineer to modify it, this was a month ago he fitted modification then when he put it back together he broke something a week later he called to repair what he had broke the told me something else had gone so another week passed and he was meant to return but failed to turn up, I made another appointment two weeks on again he failed to turn up, I now have a tumble dryer totally unusable I am now in the process of legal action . Please I urge anyone who considering buying any appliance from whirlpool,hotpoint,creda,and indesit,proline and swan check that they are not under the saftety alert register.

John Wells says:
29 June 2017

Surely it is time to stop the pussyfooting around with these Whirlpool based dryers. They have caused many fires and the manufacturers do not seem to have any real urgency to carry out repairs or replacements of these machines. The correct action is for ALL affected machines to be repaired, or replaced within the next 3 months. And a comprehensive, accurate public (but protecting individuals details) record of where these machines are detailing their status. Either, destroyed and now safe, or upgraded and now safe, or requiring corrective action and therefore are a critically urgent issue. How any of these machines exist in buildings of multiple dwellings. It could have easily been one of these machines which initially started this tragic fire.

Hoptpoint offered me a replacement at a cost of £60.00. I thought that was very reasonable and went ahead with the purchase. That was on 6th april 2016. The new tumble dryer developed a fault on 2nd July 2017 just less than 3 months after the guarantee expired. The drum turns but there is no heat. Hotpoint have refused to carry out a repair free of charge stating “company policy is 2 weeks grace after normal guarantee expires”.

George, point out to Hotpoint that the Consumer rights Act requires a product to be durable – i’e last in working order a reasonable time. i would suggest 1 year and 3 months is not a reasonable time to expect a new tumble drier to last. I suspect a small claims would support this; worth mentioning this as your next step.

I had a Hotpoint fridge freezer that expired after 3 years. I used the durability argument and this was accepted. A new one was delivered in 3 days.