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Update: it’s time to overhaul the UK’s product safety system

Product safety

We have today released our report on the UK’s product safety system. In it, we call on the Government to urgently overhaul the UK’s broken product safety and recall system.

The UK’s fragmented product safety system simply isn’t fit for purpose and, as such, is potentially putting people’s lives at risk through a lack of joined-up national oversight and action.

Whirlpool saga

Take, for example, the long-running saga with Whirlpool’s fire-risk tumble dryers where Peterborough Trading Standards initially failed to force Whirlpool to change its advice to consumers. This was despite more than 700 instances of Whirlpool-owned brands of tumble dryers catching fire in people’s homes.

Sadly, it took the threat of a judicial review by Which? back in December 2016 to finally force Peterborough Trading Standards to change its approach.

In January 2017, Peterborough issued two enforcement notices to Whirlpool, forcing the manufacturer to change its safety advice. Owners of affected dryers are advised to switch off the machine and not use it until it has been fixed.

The safety system shouldn’t rely on organisations like us to threaten legal action in order to ensure consumers are adequately protected.

A new safety system

In our view, and as highlighted in our new report, the product safety system simply isn’t fit for purpose and its over reliance on a local approach to a national problem poses grave risks to consumers. The current system has no single source of information on product recalls for consumers and uses an ineffective local solution to tackle what is a national problem.

Problems with the product safety regime are made worse by the lack of resources for local trading standards teams, which have lost more than half of their full-time equivalent staff and expertise since 2009. This, combined with an over reliance on manufacturers to self-check their products’ safety, paints a worrying picture.

The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union could also place even more pressure on an already stretched system as we could lose important protections from the EU’s enforcement network, as well as access to the EU’s Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products.

We’re concerned that the Government has been slow to respond to serious incidents and subsequent reviews following product related fires. In October 2016 the Government set up a Working Group on Product Recall and Safety. We’re awaiting the conclusions from this working group, but we hope it has firmly grasped the scale of the problems facing the current system.

Read the Which? report

Action on safety

We’re calling on the Government to take urgent action and create a new national body that has all of the tools it needs to get unsafe products out of people’s homes.

We also believe a single, reliable and well-publicised website should be created to provide authoritative information and advice when dangerous products are identified or recalls are required.

Update: 20 July 2017

The Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety has published its report and outlined recommendations for improving the UK’s product safety system.

    The Group’s recommendations include:

  • setting up a central scientific and technical resource;
  • working with the British Standards Institute to create a Code of Practice for businesses and regulators to set out best practice for undertaking and evaluating corrective action and recalls of products;
  • improving the way product-related accident and fire data is gathered; and
    establishing effective arrangements between trading standards and electrical goods manufacturers through Primary Authority, to strengthen compliance and recalls.

These recommendations are not the fundamental reform needed to fix the UK’s broken product safety system, which currently poses grave risks to consumers.

The report heavily promotes primary authority partnerships as a part of the solution. We have concerns about the use of primary authority partnerships between businesses and local authorities – which failed consumers in the case of tumble dryers from Whirlpool brands.

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.

Do you trust the current product safety system? Do you agree that the system needs overhauling? What would you do to improve the safety system to make it better for consumers?

Comments
Sue Done says:
22 July 2017

Beko slimline dishwasher, 6 month’s old responsible for major fire in our home 7 weeks’ ago. Lost dear pets and half of belongings. Insurers suing Beko for faulty circuit board. Product hasn’t been recalled … How ridiculously insane.

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Sue – very sorry to hear that, but thanks for sharing your experience on here.

A colleague of mine lost all his possessions in a house fire about 10 years ago; indeed he was lucky to get out alive. His fire started because he nodded off whilst smoking.

Given the faulty circuit board in your Beko, I agree that it is very unlikely that there won’t be other faulty ones from the same batch, or even the same design, out there too.

Figure 4.1 of this document provides some statistics of the causes of fires and the number of fatalities in England: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/611182/fire-statistics-england-1516-hosb0517.pdf

Cooking is the main cause of fires and smoking the main cause of fatalities, even though there are no smokers in many households.

I would hope that an independent organisation responsible for product safety would provide the opportunity for manufacturers and the public to report potentially serious problems.

Sue – Have you done a search to find out if others have reported fires in similar dishwashers? Typing in the make and model might produce some information. Thanks for posting about your horrible experience.

This is a useful set of data. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/610429/domestic-appliance-fires-dataset-guidance.pdf
It shows (section 7) domestic appliance fires have reduced by 10% since 2010 (despite no doubt a growth in the ownership of appliances).
Around 0.005% of installed tumble driers have caused a fire. ESF statistics show that, in general, twice as many electrical appliance fires are caused by misuse and abuse as by an appliance fault.

There are over 20 times as many fires caused by cooking equipment as by tumble driers. Should we focus more attention on preventing these?

We should take all sensible steps to minimise the risk of fire, from whatever cause. We can never eliminate risk, just mitigate it and its effects.

Which is what irks me a bit, the facts often do not reflect the attention grabbing media reports.

And if you’re in government looking at reductions in the problem then where’s the sense in focussing any resource to it? As to all intents, it looks as if the market is looking after itself, no intervention required.

K.

Malcolm – That is unlikely to comfort Sue Done and others who have had a serious fire in their home.

Of course we should do our best to minimise risks, but I want to see products designed to minimise fire and other risks. It would be very difficult to design a dishwasher that cannot go on fire but I believe that it is possible to design ones that can contain fire to prevent it spreading to flammable materials nearby.

In many ways, products are safer than they used to be. The only appliance fire I have experienced was many years ago when (CRT) TV went on fire. The paraffin wax in the EHT transformer was alight, presumably thanks to a spark. Modern TVs don’t use high voltages and have numerous safety features. I still think there is scope for improvement and will continue to point out what I consider to be inappropriate use of plastics.

I think when a problem arises on a large scale, as with Indesit driers, we should examine the cause carefully and learn from it. Clearly the Indesit driers showed a safety problem My question has always been whether this was a manufacturing defect or a design change, after independent approval to the safety standard (BSEN60335-2-11) in which case the manufacturer would have a serious charge to answer. Or did it pass the standard with what seems to be a defect; in which case we need to amend the standard.

As far as I know, no one has re-tested a defective drier to the original version of the standard to see where the problem lies. A pity. Which? could have acquired one and sent it to the BSI test laboratory. So could Trading Standards Peterborough. The Government could have required this. Without all the facts we can never progress.

I would like to see all relevant information in the public domain, Malcolm, otherwise we have no way of knowing whether appropriate action has been taken.

I don’t think that, without all the facts in evidence that you can rush to any conclusions at all.

You can’t even say, without strong hard evidence who was at fault, if anyone was in any given single case.

I often get accused of blaming the user and that is not at all true, what I look for is evidence to prove the case one way or the other. Without that placing the blame on either the user or the maker is irresponsible in my view and could indeed be libellous technically.

Which is the reason I will always go to facts and evidence before passing comment or jumping to any conclusions beyond sweeping generalisations. Something that I have repeatedly seen on this conversation, some very cutting and derogatory remarks have been made that have absolutely no founding in facts or at least facts that are available.

Malcolm is absolutely correct, causality in any given instance must be established beyond doubt before you break out the torches and pitchforks. Otherwise, you can end up looking a fool and actually harm your argument more than forward it.

K.

A compulsory registration system should also have defective product details attached to it. However I would hope that the organiser of the system would automatically notify any owner of a defective product; that would be its purpose – a waste of time if it didn’t do that. Relying on individuals to check their product would be as successful as getting them to voluntarily regsiter appliances.

Another use for the database would be help in selecting products to purchase. Avoid those perhaps from brands that show too many defect examples.

wavechange, I was not trying “to comfort Sue Done…..” but to put facts into the Convo, Often useful when developing a discussion.

That is what I hope for, but we need to find solutions that will help as many people as possible without delaying getting the system up and running. Many electrical goods are gifts, so a means of transferring ownership details could be built into the database. As a case in point, I stay with friends over the Christmas holiday period and my gift to the man of the house was a Martindale socket tester because he likes practical items. That was recalled and he was unaware of this until I told him.

Publishing the number and severity of problems would be helpful to those who are interested in making an informed choice. Obviously numbers of incidents have to be weighted because some brands and models are much more popular than others. Mandatory registration could also help to keep a track of purchase dates and the user could export the data to support insurance claims, hopefully reducing insurance fraud.

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That is one of the reasons why I want the system run independently, Duncan.

If you buy someone a present you could register it in their name. Needs to be an option.

That was not an option with the Martindale tester or some other products I have bought as gifts. Once we have an independent organisation handling recalls I would not mind people passing on my contact details when buying me a Christmas present. It might be better than relying on someone to pass on details of a recall. I certainly don’t want to delay introduction of mandatory registration but there are some important issues to be looked at.

I’m thinking ahead to what a proper system should include.

I hope we all are.

Two years ago the plug providing power to the ignition system of my gas cooker exploded. An electrician tested my electricity supply and the relevant socket and established that there was nothing wrong with the supply or the socket. He said that it had to be the cooker. A gas engineer told me that it had to be investigated by the manufacturer. I informed the manufacturer who asked me to send them a photograph of the cooker. Their response was that their engineers said that the problem could not have been caused by the cooker. I tried to find an organization which I could contact to investigate the situation but could find nothing. As I am frightened to plug the cooker into the electricity supply I have, since then, had to light it with matches. Currently there seems that there is no organisation responsible for dealing with such a situation.

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Maggie – It depends what you mean by the plug exploding and whether there was a fire or other hazard. I had a well used Energizer battery charger go bang when I switched it on but on investigating the remains I concluded that it had failed in a way that was not hazardous.

I agree that it should be easy to report problems, which could help alert manufacturers and Trading Standards to possible problems as soon as possible.

Mike says:
24 July 2017

People mistakenly believe that if something goes wrong its the supply. The supply does what it says, it supplies electricity. Electricity has to be drawn from the socket, not pushed into the appliance. If a fuse blows, the the appliance is at fault in some way, not the supply. To say a there electrician need sacking is putting it mildly. Either they should never have been employed in the first place, or someone is telling porky pies.

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I can confirm what Duncan has just said from bitter personal experience. Now, admittedly we do live in a mountain in the middle of nowhere but on three occasions in the past 20 years the voltage supply has either suddenly leapt or halved and on one occasion dribbled along spasmodically for around half an hour at about a quarter of the appropriate rating.

I have two large UPS supplies (I have a lot of valuable video editing files and hardware) and did complain to the distributors about the most recent transient low-voltage issue.

They brushed it off – as they’re wont to do – so I had a chat with the Which? legal team (worth every penny, that crowd) and wrote them another letter, which prompted a visit from the regional faults manager. He was a charming chap, who could talk for Britain, and it was something of a challenge to keep him on topic, but during his lengthy exposition of the trials and tribulation of distribution companies in general he admitted that voltage fluctuations that cannot be traced do happen, and happen more in rural areas.

Finally, he admitted he couldn’t say the more recent issue was ‘impossible’, simply that they had no record of it. I pointed out that I had – in the form of a trashed hard drive (it was a backup disc, but nonetheless..) so the company reimbursed me for the loss of two Hard drives and the purchase of two UPS systems.

So it does happen, Mike; I agree it’s often not the distributor, but equally if you live in a rural area it can be. It may not be anyone’s fault specifically, but the law states they have to supply,power within given parameters and of a given quality, so they have to carry the can.

Maggie – give Which? legal a call.

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Janie says:
22 July 2017

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sorry for copy of commnet o.k.

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Once was more than enough 🙂 I think these comments are out of place in this Convo.

Hi Royboy, welcome to Which? Conversation. I’m afraid your comments are off-topic and therefore we can’t allow them to be posted on this discussion thread about product safety. Please check out our Community Guidelines for guidance on commenting: https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/

Cheers!

David Mee says:
22 July 2017

Health and safety seem to be very active in the workplace, outdoor events etc, but as we’ve found , severely lacking in situations like these; when it comes to domestic appliances etc, so you’re right, something needs to be done.

David, I guess we don’t aim to extend public or workplace safety legislation into the private domains of peoples’ homes. Possibly that is a consequence of the “an Englishman’s home is his castle” principle.

At my workplace, safety is everybody’s responsibility. UK law places duties on both employers and employees. Any – or all – of us might face prosecution if we fail in those duties.

In my home, I am content to be responsible for safety. I accept that I must control the fire risks, including those that arise from any electrical appliances. To help me do that, I hope that manufacturers will use their very best endeavours to not sell me appliances that will fail and start a fire. But I’m not going to put all my eggs in one basket by trusting that they will always succeed in that endeavour.

Hence I really do appreciate the efforts of Which? (and others) to warn us when new information about risks comes to light. And, if Which? (or anyone else) can improve those arrangements, then everyone will be a bit safer.

Experience in the workplace can be very helpful in making us think about safety in the home, especially for employees that do risk assessments – though I’m not sure I would like to live with a safety officer. 🙂

I’m surprised that many people don’t have smoke alarms in each room except bathrooms, since they can provide an early warning of fire. Grilling and frying can set off a smoke alarm, but my approach is to hang the kitchen smoke detector on the wall so that it can be temporarily silenced or banished to the dining room if set off by cooking. A heat alarm on the ceiling is not affected by cooking smoke but would be slower to respond in the event of a fire.

I don’t know how many traditional chip pans are in use but deep fat friers are much safer.

Fire services generally advise us not to to leave appliances running overnight, though some do to benefit from off-peak electricity. The small risk could be mitigated by fitting fire doors to the kitchen or utility room and having interlinked smoke alarms so that you are woken up promptly in event of fire.

Which? has provided us with plenty of safety information over the years.

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I believe most fire services will carry out an inspection and fit a couple of smoke alarms. We all make mistakes and having a smoke alarm in the kitchen has saved me wrecking a few non-stick pans when they have been left on a low heat and boiled dry.

” but deep fat fryers are much safer”. They caused of 182 fires last year. Surprisingly, extractor fans caused 163.

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Good point Duncan. How many extractor fans in blocks of flats that might pose a general fire risk? Back to ensuring the construction of buildings should be better regulated ( presuming current investigations point to this) to prevent the spread of fire.

Deep fat fryers are generally regarded as safer than chip pans, Malcolm: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/ChipWeek.asp I don’t use either.

The main problem here, David Mee, is not so much that people are ignorant about what causes fires, but the usual attitudes that “It can’t happen here” and “I’ll do it when I have time”. As the others have said, most people are not so much stupid as careless, and more concerned in ‘my castle’ with convenience than something unlikely happening to them. In one way, that’s reasonable.

But to a considerable extent, too, manufacturers are responsible both for avoiding their appliances threatening our lives and property in ways that we can’t control, and also to design those appliances so that the public’s careless or stupid behaviour is unlikely to be life threatening. That’s where the Zanussi-designed tumble driers have been such a scandal – the maker both failed to make them safe in the first place, then issued stupid instructions to mitigate the risk while waiting for a mod. Which? has it right – whatever the inconvenience, stop using the tumble drier – and then sue. Zanussi wasn’t desperately wrong to have produced such a vulnerable design (all makers boob occasionally) but their response to the fault’s discovery was very wrong indeed.

The Grenfell Tower disaster is an example of several not-so-dangerous design problems reaching crisis point as a group – a very unlikely occurrence; but then many of the worst disasters are like that. We still don’t know whether the fridge-freezer fire was caused by the appliance being faulty, but if it was, the fault isn’t in the Zanussi drier league, or more drastic action would have already been taken. The reason that such a minor fire spread so much in the flat, is a second home safety issue (flammables very close?) The spread of fire through the inner wall of the new cladding is yet another general safety issue; and the huge fire in the PS insulation yet another.

Because of this group of incidents causing the whole outside of the block to catch fire, the level of internal precautions is a lesser issue, no different to what it had been when the block was build all those years ago. Better fire alarms and detectors in public spaces; sprinklers in public spaces; sprinklers in each flat (and do they ALL operate if there’s a fire in one flat, water-wrecking all flats?); and so on. The original design and occupier advice for fire protection seems from earlier incidents to be effective; so our safety issue here (product safety) relates to the replacement cladding, designed for heat insulation (and much better than the old concrete cladding). The very day before the fire, BBC Radio 4 had a recorded item about building cladding, with the reporter vising the safety organisation the BRE to see such cladding burning (or not!) See The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry – ‘The Burning Question’ at 04:00 minutes – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08svvqj#play.

Which? is right – we need better and more co-ordinated safety legislation, testing and oversight – individual local TSOs couldn’t possible cope. It might be convenient to manufacturers, wholesalers and traders to have a crippled watchdog, but any government with the public safety in their hearts would put the public first – not reduce watchdog numbers to make them incapable of working effectively.

Did you mean Indesit dryers? I’m not familiar with a Zanussi drier major problem. If so, this shows the inadequacy of the “authorities” in dealing with a major problem – Trading Standards were inept, the government did little more than write a couple of letters. No one got to grips with it, nor did they acquaint the public with their legal rights for machines less than 6 years old (when a partial refund was appropriate, or any repair should be carried out without unreasonable inconvenience to the customer). Nor do we know whether the faulty driers would have passed the Safety Standard (as far as I know).

There is a recall for a Zanussi drier: https://www.uk-afi.org/product-recall/2002-02-11/td4212w

This is 15 years ago.

Many dryers are used infrequently. I disposed of my rarely used dryer after about 20 years and my mother regularly used a Zanussi dryer from 1973 to 2004. My old neighbours had a 1950s Parnall dryer, which was pensioned off about 10 years ago. Older products were often quite durable.

My father bought a Parnall washing machine at the 1953 Ideal Home Exhibition. Fantastic machine. Built like a tank, looked like a tank, basically it was a tank with a wringer attachment. The 3-speed ‘agitator’ was so powerful the washing process was extremely thorough. Changing gear was a solid and satisfying action. I think it came with a free packet of Oxydol.

Won’t anybody do something about a product called the “Quocker” Its a tap ,that once installed, delivers instant BOILING water, or cold. I can’t think of anything more likely to cause 3rd degree burns to unsuspecting or absent minded users ( most probably it will be children )

It is a Quooker and there are similar made by other manufacturers. I must own to having used one for several years and had many a guest use them also without problem. I have just moved house and will be installing again.

They are potentially dangerous as is moving a hot kettle. of the two systems I regard kettles as potentially and actually more dangerous due to the volume and weights concerned. I can fill several cups of tea or coffee by dispensing from a fixed tap which compared to someone with frail wrists etc. would find difficult with a kettle.

And of course one can never knock a Quooker over.

Once upon a time, British Standards applied to everything and manufacturers needed to adopt them fully in order to sell their products. Having lost all that, replaced by the EU standards, local authorities now have the task to monitor compliance etc. It is a disaster. EU allows flammable gas and back casing to fridges, USA has flameproof steel back casings – we get huge fires caused by fridges, they do not – yet STILL the EU changes nothing. We MUST regain our independence, and revert to good common sense policies on all fronts, following EU is the blind being led by the blind..

ALAN ROBERTS says:
22 July 2017

In 2015 i lost my house in a fire which was caused by a fan heater (made in china)not switching off and melted the casing . This was i believe due to lowering of standards in manufacture , repairs took two years before i was able to return home. So many things are made to a cheaper standard that is attractive in price but has no expected life span since many things are breaking down i now insist that the electrical goods are not from chinaif at all possible.

Britain seems to have a way of ditching highly effective organisations that had minimised so many of the problems we seems to have today. The Industrial Training Boards were an amazing way of ensuring skills
are properly taught in industry, with government incentives. They disappeared into the mists of time leaving us now living with an acute lack of skills problem across the nation with reliance on migration for skill!!!
Similarly, it seems, the long established British Standards Institute (BSI) issued “Kitemarks” on products that it had tested no longer exists, leaving us wide open to shoddy goods. The current CE system that then emerged is a joke – a dangerous one!
New generations should learn from the past.

Alan – I have been expressing concern about fan heaters and other products containing powerful heaters in plastic cases. A few years ago I was shown a fan heater where the plastic grille had partially disintegrated, exposing the heater element – which could cause electric shock. I have a couple of metal-cased fan heaters dating from the early 80s, which I lend out when neighbours are waiting for their heating to be fixed. I used them myself after Christmas. Modern heaters shut off if knocked over, but mine don’t need this feature because they are low. I share your concerns about the use of plastics and flammable refrigerants in modern appliances.

Simon – Goods still have to comply with all current standards to be legally sold in the UK.

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What relevance has this to product safety please?

This comment I referred to seems to have gone. The earlier one remains.

I suspect it has been automatically removed because others have reported it. No doubt it will be back after moderation. It’s probably better to click ‘Report’ because at present your comment – which I agree with – looks like a response to Vernon’s post.

I did click report but, like thumbs, consider it polite to also explain the objection in the Convo. Others may disagree with my view and can say so.

I don’t know whether comments are automatically removed when reported, or always reviewed by humans first. The weekend seems to have been the time when things to temporarily slip through the net.

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1***Tory Govts CUT BACKS to serves people that oversee,
the safty aspect of white goods as cost lives Tower block fire for one.
2** When we leave E.U. more cut will come by Tory Govt to the very people that,
oversee import of white GOODS so our safty will be in question again.
3** So my comnet give you an example of the mess,
Tory Govt is making of our finances now and where the cash is going
Prisons boss £20,000 bonus branded ‘shameful.
That could have been used to pay for more staff at customs area
plus , more investigator to keep an eye on the problems,
of white good that big company bulk buy on the cheap,
and are not tested right form E.U. area as they safty standards,
differ to our in the U.K.
So more staff not cuts backs will prevent the killing off -of us ALL by fire.

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I have only been back in the UK for less than 4 years and was surprised to learn from your email that there is no national body responsible for product safety in this country (by which I mean the UK). Having lived in Australia for more than 3 decades, I was accustomed to being able to contact the relevant government department in each state if I had an issue with a product. When I got nowhere with the manufacturer of my faulty washing machine, I had to contact the New South Wales Department of Fair Trading as that was where the company was based. In my own state of Victoria, it was the Department of Consumer Affairs. However, there is a national Australian body, called Product Safety Australia https://www.productsafety.gov.au/ As a great believer of not reinventing the wheel, it would seem to be a good framework on which to build the UK’s new system.

Sandra Mcgarr says:
22 July 2017

Until the directors of the companies making or importing the goods are made responsible for recall and fixing product faults, by for example a term of imprisonment. I was shocked when my car was recalled 2 years after the fault was discovered – opening the bonnet on the motorway- when the car manufacturers had my name and address and did not stop sending me invitations to buy this car again. It seems crazy to me, in respect of dangerous faults whether cars or electrical products, to effectively kill your customers.

The UK has had product safety legislation for some time now. For example, we had the Consumer Protection Act 1987. The official guide to it starts out like this:

“This guide explains in general terms how the product liability and
consumer safety provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 work.

Every day of our lives we consume, use, or simply come into contact
with countless different products. We should be able to assume that
those products are safe. Not absolutely safe – that remains unattainable.
Nor safe at unbearable cost to industry – that would put innovation at
risk. But as safe as is reasonable to expect. The aim of the Consumer
Protection Act is to help safeguard the consumer from products that do
not reach a reasonable level of safety….”

Companies aren’t interested in complaints because to show interest would be like admitting fault in some imagined litigation especially after a court told Black and Decker a guarantee could not and should not be limited to any particular amount of time.

A very good example of what I mean was a few years ago I fitted a genuine Ford replacement steering rack to a Ford Transit and at the same time as ordering the rack I ordered new mounting bolts which duly arrived in Ford packaging and carrying Ford part numbers. Tightening the first bolt it snapped like a carrot. I was very careful with the second bolt and removed it when it didn’t feel right – it was permanently stretched and about to snap. Clearly those safety related bolts weren’t the super high tensile steel they should have been and weren’t even normal high tensile steel, but were probably at best ordinary mild steel even though they behaved more like monkey metal…

I contacted Ford to offer them what I believed was very important and urgent information and found not just zero interest but active resistance to the idea Ford could make a mistake. I even offered to send the bolts to them for testing at my own expense and the refusal was less than polite.

I received a similar reception from Rover when I tried to make an enquiry about the large number of MOT failures of the front lower arm ball joint of the Rover 213 when it was current, which was very expensive to replace and similarly a frosty reception from the Ministry of transport senior testers. I believed the failures were unjustified but it was made almost impossible to gather information. It was eventually discovered the failures were unjustified but again the Ministry refused to discuss the situation.

That obstructive attitude is fairly universal and was the subject of a whole tv programme a couple of decades ago featuring a popular training shoe that damaged achilles tendons.
Britain’s businesses have never had much of a customer focus and the officialdom (and the Law, including the Common Law) that is supposed to be working for the benefit of the taxpaying public has a very tough barrier built around it and in these days of pile-it-high-and-sell-it-cheap customer focus is almost a distant memory and austerity has almost made it impossible to find any helpful officialdom.

I have bought stuff from Italy, Germany and China and received better and quicker service and more reasonable prices than from many UK suppliers. Brexit will not be a success unless Britain gets it’s collective finger out…

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Pamela says:
22 July 2017

Slightly different topic, but I think we also need independent inspectors for building projects. A relative of mine was forced out of his job because he refused to sign off electrical wiring in a new residential block as safe as he claimed it was not safe.

There may be grounds for unfair dismissal: https://www.gov.uk/dismissal/unfair-and-constructive-dismissal

I do hope that if the work was unsafe it was not just signed off by someone else.

I worked for an engineering company that designed and provided maintenance systems for other companies in the 1980’s. One of our first realisations, when we compared how we assessed safety and security of products and how the EU did it was, the EU’s was very poor and risky, allowing the sale of faulty equipment and household goods. We showed this comparison to a number of institutions but nothing got beyond the local inspectorate and those in higher places, government, were not interested. Is this why most of our household electrical goods now come from abroad?

It’s high time that products were made for the safety of consumers and not just for profit. Britain should in no way buy cheap products from abroad because loss of life is never cheap. There aught to be clear instructions of how to use the product.

Products like household electrical goods that are marketed in the UK must comply with the appropriate safety standards. Even cheap ones.

My fairly new portable food griller exploded with a bang last week. Wasn’t expecting that! The socket is OK. There should be one main site we can report these occurrences to. Also people can’t rely on second hand electrical shops even carrying out PAT testing on appliances , which they are supposed to do by law before selling electrical items. I know of such a shop that has ignored this ever since this ruling came into law many years ago.

I suggest you contact Trading Standards and hope that they are likely to take action because the shop will be committing multiple offences. If you do, please let us know the outcome.

Heating elements in kettles, ovens and grills sometimes do go bang even when they are safe, so PAT testing would not necessarily revealed a fault.

Yes there needs to be a national body for maintaining standards,,which sadly has to set up by government statute,,,the local Trading Standards do not seem to have enough or big enough teeth to force through the complaints,,and force the repair, recall, or product removal when there is proof that there are product faults..

The tumble dryer disaster is a major point,,,,and there are the manufacturers who just don’t want to know anything other than the bottom line.

There has to be a stronger body set up,,and we the consumers need to give voice to this,,and make sure that it is used properly,,and not used to get ‘false claim’ pay outs,,,

I have complained to various companies about problems with their products,,and usually got money off vouchers back,,to ‘keep me sweet’

This needs to be brought into force with all speed to get the manufacturers to bring out better quality,,and they will then be under no illusion that they will be held accountable for faults and major incidents that occur,, and where there is proof that the manufacturers are ‘lying’ about the safety of the product,,then they have to be brought to ‘book’ and prosecuted with all speed and the faulty products immediately removed from sale and customers given an exchange,,with all all speed,,

Were there is proof of failure to act,,,as with the tumble dryer situation then they have to be brought to a national body to answer why they have failed to bring the problem to a halt,,,the Trading Standrds also need to be ‘policed’ by a higher level of control,,,,

As long as businesses and not individuals are held to account the situation will continue to deteriorate. Make individuals responsible for their actions and I suspect you will see a change.