/ Home & Energy

Update: taking our product safety concerns to Parliament

UK parliament

It has been over two years since the news first broke about Whirlpool’s fire risk tumble dryers, and in those two years we’ve seen some shocking failures in the UK’s product safety system.

Giving evidence to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee, I pressed the committee to launch an inquiry into product safety and to finally hold the government to account for its inaction that has left millions of consumers unnecessarily at risk.

Whirlpool dryers

As some of you will know, in August 2015, Whirlpool informed Peterborough Trading Standards (PTS) that up to 5.3 million tumble dryers in the UK were affected by a fault.

These machines were at risk of catching fire and required modification to address the problem and by 2016 around 750 fires were reportedly linked to Hotpoint, Indesit, Proline, Swan and Creda tumble dryers.

The manufacturer has consistently resisted calls for a recall of the dangerous products despite the clear potential for tragedy. Instead, it launched a repair programme despite having limited capacity to deliver this commitment due to the scale of the problem.

More than a year after the issue first emerged, people were facing lengthy delays waiting for a repair of their potentially dangerous dryer. And all the while Whirlpool dangerously advised customers to keep using their dryers. That was until we issued an application for judicial review against PTS, which soon after saw PTS issuing Whirlpool with two enforcement notices to instruct consumers to unplug their machines until they were repaired.

In Parliament, we heard from Whirlpool that around a million of these fire-risk dryers are still in people’s homes.

System failures

The failure of PTS or the Government to respond to this risk and not force Whirlpool to recall these dangerous products has revealed significant issues at the heart of the UK’s product safety system.

The independent challenge necessary in the product safety system was lacking because PTS didn’t properly carry out its role as an enforcer of product safety laws. And Ministers failed to grasp the scale of the issue, leaving people with dangerous products in their homes.

Subsequent concerns about a different fault in one of the same affected tumble dryers was highlighted in the Llanwrst fire inquest, and safety issues related to non-flame retardant backings on fridge freezers, have provided further evidence that the product safety system is broken and needs urgent reform.

These incidents have raised fundamental questions about the ability of the current product safety regime to adequately protect consumers. Our system is failing because the UK enforcement regime is simply not fit-for-purpose.

In the UK we have a highly fragmented system, heavily reliant on local Trading Standards, without the necessary resources of expertise to police the product safety system. These local Trading Standards offices are responsible for ensuring compliance with 260 pieces of legislation.

As a result, there is an over-reliance on companies to self-manage compliance (including for recall) and an emphasis on light touch regulation.

Finally, there is a lack of coordinated intelligence on potential product safety issues. Trading Standards simply aren’t equipped for this type of market surveillance.

Product safety system

Sadly, there is little to suggest the government has grasped the scale of the problems facing our product safety system. In 2015, it commissioned Lynn Faulds Wood to undertake a review following a fatal fire caused by a faulty Beko fridge-freezer, but has ignored the most important recommendations from that review.

These issues must be addressed urgently. Our enforcement regime must be effective now. As we prepare to leave the EU we enter a more complex trading environment and we must be able to ensure the safety of products coming from new markets.

I called on the committee to launch an inquiry. I also repeated our call for a new national body to take responsibility for ensuring manufacturers get dangerous products out of people’s homes quickly. All of the panellists who gave evidence to the select committee agreed with our call for a new national body, remarkably this also included Whirlpool and the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances.

Update 1 November: Speaking at a Parliamentary debate on product safety this afternoon, the Consumer Minister Margot James revealed that our calls for a new national body and how to deliver an increased central system were under consideration. The Minister also announced that the government would publish its response to the Working Group on product safety’s recommendations before the end of the year.

Update: 1 December 2017

Whirlpool has stopped replacing its fire-risk tumble dryers, but continues to offer a modification for affected models.

The Telegraph has just revealed it has found that the manufacturer quietly stopped the scheme back in October. This news comes despite the manufacturer admitting, in Parliament on 31 October, that around one million of these dryers are still in people’s homes.

Since the safety alert issues hit the headlines in 2015, we’ve been shocked by what we can only describe as multiple failings on Whirlpool’s part to sort this issue out fully and promptly.

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

‘It is completely unacceptable that Whirlpool has shut down its replacement scheme for these dangerous tumble dryers. It is irresponsible that despite one million households potentially still using an affected machine Whirlpool seems unwilling to do everything possible to deal with this issue.

‘The Government must step in and force Whirlpool to fully recall the remaining tumble dryers.’

Over 100 models of Hotpoint, Indesit, Proline, Swan and Creda tumble dryers bought before October 2015 are at risk of catching fire. Those with fire-risk dryers still in their homes are now left with the only option of awaiting a free modification.

Do you want the government review the product safety system? How would you want the system changed?

Comments

It amazes me that similar to US companies, UK companies are quite happy to factor into their profits the significant damages for any potential product-inflicted injuries right up to and including manslaughter.
Effectively, they financially plan for the probability or possibility of such a prosecution.
My question is that if you do that, is the company not admitting that there is a possibility or probablilty of killing someone with such a delinquently designed product?
If the answer is “Yes”, then surely any such a death could be considered to be premeditated and therefore the prosecution should be for murder?
No company should be allowed to be reckless with any life and all companies aware of their defective products being a risk to life should be prevented from all but applying fullest resources to remedying these potential killer products or rounding them up with a full refund to the customer, whichever poses the least risk to the customer, his family and others put at risk.
At present, there is little incentive for manufacturers to remedy or replace defective products, however dangerous.
Perhaps a corporate murder charge might focus attention?

Companies – whether manufacturers, service providers, public sector entities, all make genuine mistakes. None are perfect. Should an unexpected accident or worse occur that is caused by them then it is more than prudent to have protected their financial situation accordingly – whether by a reserve or, more likely, by insurance. Just as you do with your car, and hopefully you also have public liability cover in case you inadvertently, but through fault, injure someone else. Otherwise if sued you could lose a lot of assets.

This is being dealt with a bit like the diesel emission corruption by VW and others, EU make plenty of regulations but don’t like enforcing them on many EU companies, if it were a UK company the EU would enforce the regulations. Whirlpool and all associated companies should be banned from selling any further products of any kind in the UK until all claims are fully settled.

My Hotpoint tumble dryer has been seen by the modification engineers five times – it has had a new drum and lastly a starter switch and it still does not work!! Where does that leave me as they refuse to answer my calls and put things right.

Bill says:
5 December 2017

The owners of the dryers should take more responsibility! When the engineer came to deal with our machine, he said that half the owners had not registrerd for modifiactyions or replacements. Many of the dryers he visited to modify had neveer been cleaned (producing felt caropets inside!) and fater modification, the owner said”now that you have fixed it , I don’t need to clean out the filter!.

John Shepherd says:
5 December 2017

I am one of the lucky ones – mine has been modified albeit after umpteen phone calls and three on-line notifications on the company documentation.
The initial advice on how to clean/maintain the filters including the large stainless steel one that is supposedly rinsed out under a running tap and thoroughly dried before refitting is absolute TOSH. The debri just becomes a mass of water sodden lint and cannot be removed at-all.

Whirlpool and all of their other guises should be forced to repay forthwith and in full those that have purchased the dryers and have proof of purchase.

The absolute crazy notion that the machines can be taken out of commision and left standing aside until replaced or repaired is utter nuts.

What is wrong with our government ? We indirectly pay them through our taxes to do the right thing by us.
What would happen if there were more fires and loss of life that was directly as a result of this debacle ?
By instructing Whirlpool & Co to make the necessary repayment and the chain of retailers to take back and store the offending machines then the public could at least have the choice of an alternative manufactures product without the inconvenience of having to retain/store the affected products.

Things get even worse if what I was told by an engineer I let into a neighbours house is true. He was from Whirlpool and while I watched him do the modification required and at the end put a sticker on the machine to show that the mod had been done,he told me that he had been to another Whirlpool Dryer, which was under guarantee, to do a repair. He said that the machine had a green sticker on it to say that the mod had been carried out but that no mod had been carried out.I think you will agree that this is very disturbing.Apparently due to Whirlpool being short of their own engineers they had sub let some jobs to independents. I think that this shows that there should be random checks on machines which have had the mod carried out to make sure that they actually have.

wirlpool must be stopped and put out of business

peter lawton says:
5 December 2017

if these machines are unsafe they should be banned from selling any products till all are repaired or replaced.

I spoke to someone at whirlpool over a year ago to set up an appointment for my dryer to be looked at I’ve heard nothing since then so a machine that at the time was only about 8 months old is stuck in the shed not good enough

Agree with consumer legislation which is given teeth and operate a bite which makes the supplier as well as the manufacturer hurt. In the meantime publish a list of the brands used by this company so that future customers can boycott them.

Washing machines do not respect your clothes ! Its scandalous that its taking so long for manufactures to resolve this very dangerous issue. Meanwhile we wash everything by hand and clothes last that much longer !!

My tumble dryer is over 20 years ago and is shoved in the shed. It works fine, even had a electrical engine come out and test it; all good!

Jane says:
5 December 2017

Easy option for me is no tumble dryer and zero thought of ever getting one.

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Don’t buy a Whirlpool tumble dryer, & dissuade others from buying them, too: message I’m widely sending out. Douglas McTavish. 28-11-2017 04:58 PM GMT. Date of report: 31 October 2017. Ref: 2017-0311. Deceased name: Douglas McTavish. Coroners name: David Lewis. Coroners Area: North Wales (East & Central). Category: Product related deaths. This report is being sent to: Whirlpool (UK) Appliances. Bernard Hender. 28-11-2017 04:55 PM GMT. Date of report: 31 October 2017. Ref: 2017-0311. Deceased name: Bernard Hender. Coroners name: David Lewis. Coroners Area: North Wales (East & Central). Category: Product related deaths. This report is being sent to: Whirlpool (UK) Appliances. Unless you have hacked your consciences to death, I hope that your consciences are being savaged day & night.
Above message I sent to Whirlpool on 28/11/2,017- following 2 inquests concluding with verdicts of Product Related Deaths (the faulty & dangerous product was a Whirlpool tumble dryer). Whirlpool have not even had the decency- unsurprisingly- to afford me the courtesy of a reply (but I know they received the emails as I had automatic acknowledgements). Keep up the good work- Which?- in relentlessly & tirelessly pressuring Whirlpool to urgently recall, & compensate customers for, these proven hazardous dryers.

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To be fair, Duncan, these are very recent reports of deaths due to faulty appliances, and previous comments were possibly correct at the time they were posted, but your point is well made and from now on there should certainly be no claims that there have been no fatalities.

The statements given in Peter’s post above do not give full information on the cause of death and it is possible that there was some misuse or inadequate maintenance involved – we don’t know. I think Which? should check out the Coroners’ reports and publish an update.

The affected models of tumble dryer have certainly been implicated in many fires. To quote from Which?: “It’s known that at least 750 fires have been reported since 2004 that involved affected Creda, Hotpoint, Indesit and Proline dryers.” https://www.which.co.uk/news/2017/11/whirlpool-must-act-now-to-prevent-future-deaths/

Tumble dryer fires are not restricted to these models or those owned by Whirlpool. They will continue to happen as long as manufacturers are allowed to use antiquated designs containing a high temperature heater in machines that produce flammable fluff. When most manufacturers offer heat pump driers that operate at much lower temperatures, I think it’s time to phase out the old designs. When I was a child there were radiant electric fires with bare electric elements, but thankfully models with silica-sheathed elements were introduced.

I’ve suggested lower-temperature heaters in the past but this would, of course, lengthen drying times. Now that Which? seems to take part in BSI committee work we might see contributors’ suggestions being put forward. Which? tell me they cannot disclose what is said, but I think they should tell members what they are contributing, on our behalf.

I agree that we should be told what Which? is saying on our behalf, Malcolm.

A heat-pump tumble dryer effectively acts a low temperature heater that cannot overheat. A low temperature electrical heater would be cheaper but cost more to run and they are not currently available, unlike heat-pump dryers.

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Malcolm and Wavechange, we try and tell you as much as we can and as soon as we can too. We’re certainly not trying to keep things from you, but I will feedback your feelings on our participation in the BSI work. Your views and the contributions here on convo are taken into account – not only to colleagues check in on Convo contributions, but myself and the rest of the team also share them with the wider group too.

@johnward, we did share an update on the Coroner’s report last week and @wavechange kindly shared Melissa’s news story on this. Whirlpool must now respond to the report and we will now wait for that.

Thanks Lauren. I would like to know if Which? has passed on my concerns about the use of flammable plastics in the fascias and possibly other parts of the casings of white goods appliances. I have posted numerous photos in Convos showing how the plastics can melt or burn, allowing fire to spread, whereas an all-metal casing would contain a fire.

wavechange, we are all concerned about certain aspects of product safety and can make our views known direct to those who are in a position to act. Out of interest, did you send your concerns to the BSI committee?

In a lot of these cases, I think there is no problem with showing that certain tumble dryers have caught fire. In these cases it is also easy to know who made the dryer in question but it is much harder to prove (to the satisfaction of a UK Court) the extent to which they can be held responsible for any resulting consequences of the fire. As previously discussed on these pages, the Grenfell Tower tragedy shows how complicated some of these cases can be.

It’s not just the Whirlpool brands of tumble dryers that have caused fires. I first became aware of tumble dryer fires and the need to clean the lint filter in the early 70s. I insisted that my mother’s new tumble dryer was put in the garage. We don’t really seem to have moved on. There is no requirement to fit an interlock to ensure that the filter is cleaned before using the machine, users can still stop dryers mid-cycle, risking causing a fire, there is no requirement for machines to contain fire and testing does not look at used machines that may have accumulated lint in internal ducts, etc. I’m disappointed

I did intend to contact BSI once I had had the opportunity to look at the relevant documents but have been put off by what I feel was an inadequate response regarding the Devolo smoke detector. It would have been courteous to entertain the possibility that Which? might have had a valid point. Hopefully Which? will make and input and report back.

Part of what BSI replied to Which?:
https://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/about-bsi/media-centre/press-releases/2017/august/BSI-response-to-Which-article-on-smoke-alarms/
….
BSI provided these facts to Which? in response to an enquiry last month. The standard is currently under review, as part of a normal review process, and therefore we have offered Which? the opportunity to present their latest findings to our expert committee to see if anything might need to be done, and suggested that they might also wish to consider joining the committee that compromises a range of experts and public interest groups. BSI looks forward to hearing from Which?.
BSI has not KitemarkTM certified all of these products and BSI did not certify the Devolo alarm that Which? claimed failed two of the four tests. Others may have been tested and certified by different independent third parties to check it meets the requirements of the standard.

That seems a perfectly sensible and objective response to me. Which?’s involvement with product testing and consumer feedback makes then an ideal candidate for taking part in BSI’s work, and I have advocated this for some time. I believe they are now taking part in one or more committees. I hope they will keep Members informed of the work they do, and feed Member’s suggestions into BSI when appropriate.

I re-read the document before posting, Malcolm. I’m disappointed that BSI has not looked in to the concerns of Which? and reported back by now.

Has Which? met with BSI and considered their test results? Perhaps Which? would tell us.

I hope so, but alternatively, BSI could look at the information already provided by Which? If the Devolo alarm meets the standards but performs poorly in the Which? tests then maybe the standard may not be adequate.

BSI said they had not tested the Devolo alarms, so could not comment on them. It may be that they do not meet the standards – or that the particular samples Which? tested did not. If Which? will report back on their meeting with BSI it would be useful.

I realise this but BSI could have said they would pass on the concerns to the relevant standards body and since there is a possibility that the Which? tests are better, say that they will look into this.

If I were BSI I would want to examine Which?’s test results (remember also they were not done by Which? but contracted out, and not all labs are the same) to determine their accuracy, and discuss Which?’s concerns. I’d like Which? to tell us what came of their discussions with BSI.to inform these comments.

I would hope that the organisations would cooperate over this concern. Bear in mind that international standards are minimum standards whereas Which? may guide us to products that perform best.

Safety standards are not about “performance”; there are in some cases separate standards for that. Safety standards are about protecting the user from identifiable hazards and in prescribing tests to determine compliance (or otherwise) .If the description “minimum” is used it is used in the “no less than” sense. There are already many cooperating organisations that form BSI committees, from a wide range of interests including consumer representation. Which? would be a useful addition.

With fire, seconds can make a difference in whether occupants can escape before affected by smoke. I am very glad that Which? has identified that some smoke detectors have performed better than others. Many years ago I was alerted by Which? magazine to the fact that I had a smoke detector that responded slowly, so I contacted the manufacturer and was sent a replacement cover with more holes. From memory, it complied with the standard but could be improved.

The maximum time smoke alarms are meant to sound within presumably takes this into account. There has to be a finite time, and it needs a tolerance. They must also be resistant to false alarms. These standards are developed based on research and evidence, not in some ad hoc way by amateurs. Simulating different fires in the test laboratory to give a realistic result, and determining when an event is likely to become a fire, is a key part in the standard. it is worth reading the domestic fire alarm standard to understand how it works.

However, safety standards are under constant review based on experience and evidence as well as developments from new technology. And this is collected internationally. So any useful proposals can be put to the committees concerned to see if they stand up to scrutiny.

If Which?’s results simply point to a wish to narrow the time window within which an alarm must sound, or to reduce the concentration of aerosol that triggers the device, then that needs to be thoroughly examined for practicality, for example.

BSI committees, from my past and present experience, are very receptive to contributions; that is one of their jobs. They are composed of a wide range of organisations having experience and expertise in the particular field. If Which?’s concerns have merit they will be considered. I think it was a shame that Which? did not seek BSI’s comments before rushing into a press release. At least a more balanced appraisal might have resulted. Hopefully by joining the committee there will be better cooperation.

Elizabeth Waller says:
6 December 2017

It’s not just driers that fall short of standard.
A year ago I had a dishwasher fire and it has taken till now to get the house back to normal after fire and smoke damage. If I hadn’t been at home at the time, the firefighters said I would have lost the house. They also said the majority of the domestic fires they attend are dishwasher and tumbler driers .
Elizabeth

I’m surprised how many people put on their dishwasher before they leave the house or go to bed, which is against advice from the fire services. Maybe it’s necessary to experience a fire as you have, Elizabeth, to understand the damage that can be caused by a fire.

I have a wi-fi washing machine that I can presumably start when away from home.

It is an unnecessary feature that I am never going to use.

Many of these appliances are run overnight on cheap-rate electric so a fire could be well underway before it is discovered.

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I’m not sure what a WiFi washing machine does. I know many people that don’t have a heat or smoke detector in their kitchen or utility room.

If I have to go out, I turn off the washing machine and dishwasher. Rather reluctantly I sometimes leave a breadmaker on overnight but I set the timer so that it does not start to bake until I will be eating my breakfast.

Duncan, give me some credit please? 🙄

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Apology accepted Duncan.

Wi-fi products are sold so people are going to see them and buy them. I wanted a Siemens washing machine and they all come with wi-fi, so got it whether I wanted it or not.

Unfortunately, you cannot stop people using their appliances when away from home if that is what they are made for, and it is up to them whether they think it a good idea or not.

As electricity prices rise and it become no longer necessary to have a second meter to qualify for cheaper electricity at night, more people are going to want to run their appliances at night. We could design white goods that are capable of containing a fire instead of allowing it to spread, with just a little innovation.

Our dishwasher is enclosed in an all metal casing. I would have hoped that would contain a fire. The interior of a dishwasher is a wet environment which is another reason why we have had no qualms about running it at night or when we go out. Using it at night just seems to be very convenient – all the crockery, cutlery and cookware from all the day’s eating can be washed up at the end of the day and be ready to use again the next morning.

If the dishwasher has an all-metal casing then there is little chance of a fire spreading, particularly if it has a closed rather than open base to prevent air entering. Dishwashers do not have glass doors that break in some tumble dryer and washing machine fires. As you say, there is not much to burn – in contrast to the contents of a tumble dryer.

My dishwasher, like many other has a plastic fascia and a large number of Bosch/Neff/Siemens models made by Bosch were recalled because some went on fire because of an underspecified component or poor connection behind the plastic fascia. Here is one example with a photo: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-21960710

The first issue seems to be the problem facing manufacturers who try to recall a product but cannot because the owner has not registered it. Maybe the responsibility should be on the seller to do the registration. The second issue is that lack of a stick to hit Whirlpool with; people talk about bankers being imprisoned but they do not directly kill people. There needs to be legislation that puts accountability on the executives of companies so they can be held personally responsible…this would increase the motivation of the manufacturer to address the problem. And thirdly, the testing of all products needs to be improved. If this delays a product from being allowed to be sold then so be it but peoples safety comes first.

A few of us have discussed this problem at length, David, and it would help to have registration of products at the point of sale. The European Rapex database http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumers_safety/safety_products/rapex/index_en.htm contains up to date information about product recalls and could be used in conjunction with mandatory product registration to alert owners promptly if they own a recalled product, much in the same way that DVSA provides notifications of vehicle recalls.

There are a few complications that will need to be addressed.

1. Some may object to providing contact details, which could be misused or fall into the wrong hands as a result of poor security.

2. All online retailers need to registering the products they sell. This could be difficult to police.

3. Products may be sold or given away, so there needs to be a way of ensuring that the current owners are notified of recalls. Secondhand appliances are often bought by people living in rented flats, where the danger to life is greatest.

I do hope that Which? will push for mandatory product registration.

No system will be perfect, but introducing compulsory registration at point of purchase will be a huge improvement of what we have now. If someone does not register their appropriate product, or update details, and they have or cause an “incident” that harms others or their property, it may be a case for the insurer not paying out and for others to sue for damages – just as if you didn’t MoT your car, and had an accident.

We need to start somewhere. And we need proper proposals to stop government having to think too hard and produce endless green papers for consultation, or commission yet another report with wishy washy results.

I’m keen to start now, Malcolm, but I don’t think the legislation can be introduced without consultation. The sooner we start the better.

The car industry seems to manage this OK. I’ve just received a minor safety recall note for my 11 year old car.

That is made possible, of course, by the compulsory registration of all road vehicles on initial purchase and on each successive transfer of ownership. For major appliances I think that should be introduced as soon as possible and people should be encouraged to voluntarily register smaller electrical goods with the manufacturer [and manufacturers should not be allowed to collect any data other than the name and address of the owner].

Notification of car recalls is currently run by DVSA and as far as I am aware has worked very well for years. When buying a secondhand car it might be worth checking for past recalls in case the previous owner has not had their car inspected and modified as necessary: https://www.dft.gov.uk/vosa/apps/recalls/default.asp

I think the challenge is to devise effective ways of ensuring that owners are informed of recalls even if they have not purchased products. This will include gifts and goods bought secondhand. I wonder how many Christmas gifts will be registered by or on behalf of the recipient. Appliances in rental properties are another problem.

I suggest that in addition to mandatory registration of purchases, there should be the opportunity for owners/users to register products themselves. This could be done easily by means of a smartphone app, making use of a QR code/barcode, so that scanning this with the phone will register model/serial number/date and contact details. Alternatives could be available for those without smartphones. Manufacturers would have to put QR codes/barcodes in a place that is easy to access, especially with bulky white goods.

They have compulsory registration. The only answer. So why don’t we do it for electrical appliances? Too busy with Brexit, possibly.

It’s not just electrical goods that are a problem. Here is a link to the latest weekly European Rapex report, which covers kids’ toys and clothing: https://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumers_safety/safety_products/rapex/alerts/?event=main.weeklyOverview&web_report_id=2662&Year=2017

Over the years we have heard of many dangerous car seats, for example. I would not want mandatory registration just to cover electrical goods.

Of course not; other products are also affected. However, we must start somewhere and if we try to include everything from the outset we will be overwhelmed and never get anything moving. Household electrical appliances seem to me to be top of the list of common goods.

Most vulnerable products are covered by safety standards and signified as compliant by. in Europe, the CE Mark. However any such scheme must first be policed, to identify defective products and also unscrupulous distributors. Trading Standards should have this role, and exercise it far more than they are currently able due to lack of resource. I’ve suggested they both run the registration scheme and police it, keeping the money and people with the right knowledge and expertise under one roof.

I don’t want to see a half-hearted approach, and I’m sure that parents with young children would want to know about dangerous toys etc.

Half-hearted is a misrepresentation. We have no proper recall system at the moment. I want to see that changed. Household electrical appliances seem to be the most appropriate ones to start with.

Other dangerous products will be listed on appropriate sites. However many people will never think to look at them. Nor is it feasible to ask people to register everything they buy that might be possibly hazardous. How, for example, might you recall toys unless you know who has bought them, other than through public notices and hope some of those affected might respond (I believe around 20% is the norm for electrical goods; I’d hazard a guess it will be far less for toys).

We need to be realistic about what can be achieved. I believe we need a much more effective product police force, a role Trading Standards should fulfil. Removing defective products from the supply chain should be a key job – from importers, distributors, retailers, before too many reach the public.

The rather poor report given to the government a couple of years ago has resulted in no action of any substance. i’d like to see Which? pick up this cause and push it by lobbying government, but with some specific proposals to discuss, not just a “something must be done” approach.f

I’m not convinced that very much will be achieved if Trading Standards is made responsible for the job and a separate organisation might be a better approach, at least until TS is doing a worthwhile job again. Perhaps we could just agree that urgent action is needed and push for this to happen.

Mrs S Crosbie says:
7 December 2017

I’ve always said that if the manufacturers can’t offer a guarantee of a product for more than a year free of charge these items shouldn’t be sold. These items used to be made to last, with a free guarantee for a number of years, now it seems that they just want to fleece us with insurance for faulty goods, surely this makes our insurance invalid????

My impression is that guarantees, particularly for electrical goods, have become longer. Pressure from customers has increased the length of guarantees on cars from one year and a guarantee for only three years does not look very good by modern standards. Buying an extended warranty tends to be more affordable than it used to be but my impression is it’s better to look for products with a warranty promotion. In some cases these may be older models but that might not matter with a vacuum cleaner or washing machine.

I would like to see a minimum of a five year guarantee as standard on electrical goods other than products such as mobile phones that soon become outdated.

i had one of the affected tumble dryers creda model for 3 or 4 years, as soon as i contacted the product recall hotline number , i was lucky i had the so called ‘ modification’ done within 2 months or so. But the thing is my tumble dryer was out in the garage with my washing machine ,as i had no room in kitchen for them . so any way after repair or mod was done . My husband (being a man) removed the top of the dyer to have a look at was done . And you wouldnt believe the huge amount of fluff that had fallen from the filter while the dryer was in use.i was using it for 3 or 4 years. i mean you remove the fluff after each use, but this fluff was all the way through to the back and covered the bottom of the dryer . i was quite shocked as the repair man didnt even bother to remove it while he had the dryer apart !!!
So anyway all was good again but a few months later still noticed more fluff still falls from the filter, which in time could still be a fire risk. So i insist that its the mesh filter at the front of the dryer that collects the fluff that is seriously FAULTY!!

They can legislate about every dangerous thing but it is impossible to do anything about the ignorant who must be many because of the things they have done and then complain on Which conversation and reports every day in the media of the things people have done or should have been done but have not for many reasons can’t be bothered is one Laws or legislation work for some but many just ignore them and do what they were doing before which now is illegal eg .mobile phone use when driving Most obey be many just ignore

I agree Bishbut, but that is no reason not to legislate against certain unsafe practices. Achieving 95%+ compliance is a major step forward and makes it easier for the authorities to single out and deal with the persistent offenders.

The revised international standard, IEC 60335-2-24, for domestic fridge freezers and the like now specifies a needle flame test in addition to a glow wire test on plastics. I also understand the BSI are proposing more stringent requirements for these appliances, including the backing material. Such changes, if accepted by CENELEC, will be incorporated in the European version, so will potentially be more stringen than the international standard when issued as a BS EN.

Standards set the framework within which product must operate. However, there is always an overlap period between the existing standard being withdrawn and the revised standard becoming the mandatory one. The safety issue is usually an assessment of risk – whether in this case there is any significant risk of a particular component being exposed to sufficient heat.

I would hope that Which?’s publicity on fridge freezers that have better backing materials than others will influence what people purchase, but unless the others are shown to pose a significant risk to the public – as, of course, you might argue the use of flammable refrigerant does theoretically – then they will continue in the market in the interim period.

Standards organisations aim to set realistic safety parameters to ensure that whatever we buy, if legally supplied, provides appropriate protection. They do a good job in this regard, based on input from a wide range of contributors with different experience and expertise acting on behalf of us all. But everything can be improved. Retailers can take a lead in this by only supplying certain products deemed better than others.