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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

In the long history of product malfunction there has never been an easier time to introduce a product registration scheme. The combination of the internet, bar codes , and e-mail addresses that do not depend on physical location enable the system to run efficiently from day-to-day. Uploading ownership details at the point of sale is the ideal arrangement but customer uploading and amendment facilities can allow for transfers that do not fit that procedure. I wonder whether people are exaggerating the scale of the operation to make it seem hard to deliver. Obviously it will need a small organisation to run it and possibly an institution to host it. TV Licensing comes to mind as an organisation with probably the biggest household database in the UK and sufficient computing power and capacity to run a registration scheme for other products. Let’s do it.

Mobile phone numbers are useful now that users can easily retain their number when they switch phones, and people should still be contactable if they have moved home and not updated their details.

I hope that there will be little opposition to the principle of compulsory registration.

There is obviously serious short fallings in our health and safety controls of white goods and building products.
In 2013 our family reported a near fire with a Hotpoint fridge freezer of the same design as the one in the recent tower block fire. Our fully photographed and documented case was brushed aside by Indesit as we were told that we may have left the door open and the bulb overheated! There was no compensation.
We reported this incident to the invetigating police for the Grefell Tower enquiry. Concerned that this evidence was not lost I phoned the police to check that it was being studied. The police recognised the importance of this evidence and said they would phone me back….they never did.
We don’t have much confidence in our methods of public protection, just take out good insurance!

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Ducan, I used to work for a sister company of NPL. I agree that Luigi and you in judging that a fridge should not catch fire if its light bulb stays on, eg due to the single fault of the door being left ajar, or if its switch fails.

I thought that the interior of a refrigerator was a chilled environment. Overheating of the lamp would be most extraordinary even if alight for a long period.

As Duncan said, Indesit’s response to Luigi’s claim for damages beggars belief. In effect, Indesit seem to have reported that they don’t design their fridges with any fault tolerance for obvious user errors. How they can expect to do that and then claim that their products are “reasonably safe”, I don’t know. It would be a bit like not fitting ABS onto cars, because “you’ll only need it if you’re a bad driver…”.

I would be surprised if a fridge lamp could start a fire unless it had been replaced with the wrong type. In my view, manufacturers should design products so that they can cope with a fridge door being left open and other common types of misuse.

General safety requirements and tests for Household electrical appliances are given in great detail in BSEN60335-1 and specific requirements for fridges etc in part 2-24
These cover abnormal operation and tests at 1.06 and 1.1x rated voltage. For example: The effect of a light is tested with the fridge off, door in most unfavourable position, lamp illuminated at 1.06 x V for 12 hours. Any heater is tested at 1 .1x rated V with the refrigeration off, door closed until thermally stable.

It would be better if the tests catered for the possibility that a higher wattage bulb could be fitted, say 15W instead of 10W. I know of two cases where friends were sold bulbs with a higher rating even though they had taken the old bulb to a shop and asked for advice.

Wavechange, that’s a nice idea, but how would they choose the maximum test wattage?

One obvious way would be to take the maximum available for the given bulb type – but that could make the test requirements much more onerous.

I’m sure manufacturers wouldn’t welcome any ratcheting up of requirements to cover “double fault tolerance” (e.g. incorrect replacement bulb fitted, followed by door left open…) even though my human factors colleagues would be quick to point out the interdependence of many such examples, i.e. both can be caused by the same careless (or clueless) operator.

Leaving a fridge door open for an extended period is very common, whereas fitting a bulb with the wrong rating is not. Hopefully labelling of lampholders with the maximum wattage (as with lampshades and light fixtures) decreases the risk of error. If I was in charge of devising tests I would accommodate the possibility that a more powerful lamp could be used.

As I mentioned, I know of two cases where people who have been sold bulbs of higher wattage. In both cases it was the difference in size or shape rather that the possible consequence of using a higher wattage bulb that made them seek advice from me.

Keeping the door closed with the bulb lit at top-end voltage with the refrigeration “off” is likely to lead to the worst thermal conditions .

I see the merit in checking what happens by replacing the bulb with the maximum wattage that will fit the holder. However, there is a problem catering for eventualities where the user replaces a component incorrectly – lampshades list maximum wattage (otherwise overheating of the shade and lampholder might occur). Standards consider “abnormal operation” but how far do you take it? How many users replace light bulbs in fridges and what are the chances of them fitting the wrong one.

“I see the merit in checking what happens by replacing the bulb with the maximum wattage that will fit the holder. ” That’s all I’m suggesting.

Further to Grenfell disaster I signed the petition Rethink Fire safety – most obvious first! at Change.org and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name and spreading the word.

Your safety starts at your letter box. The letter plate can be open for whatever reason, like by a rolled-up newspaper, stuck mail items, and by anyone, anytime. The letter plates are the usual targets for vandalism and arson. Police reported that 95% of arson in dwellings are caused by pouring flammable liquids through the letter plate aperture.

The truth is the entrance doors with the unprotected letter plates are not fit for purpose and put lives at risk. This is one obvious risk, yet often being overlooked even by the safety specialists.

In the worst incident of letter box arson at Denmark Place in London 37 people were killed and 23 injured. The Sunday Times said that it could be “the worst mass murder in British history”.

I think this post is unduly pessimistic regarding letter boxes and fire risk. The post does not say how many residential arson attacks there are – these figures do not help really other than around 4000 fires are deliberate but I suspect that includes arson of properties for insurance or vandalism rather than efforts to kill.

“The majority of fires and fire-related fatalities in the UK are domestic. Last year (2014/15) 80% of all fire-related fatalities occurred in the home. Last year saw 39,600 dwelling fires, 88% of which were accidental. Accidents happen, but ultimately, they are avoidable.
– In 31% of domestic fires there was no smoke alarm.
– In 19% of domestic fires a fire alarm was present, but it was not operational.”

Given 22,000,000 dwellings a and a minimal purchase and fitting costs at £100 one has to wonder if that money is justified for the number of events that happen – £2.2bn.

BTW Quoting the Denmark Place fire of 1980 as though it were a normal case is also misleading a they were two illegal drinking dens with no fire precautions.

I am paying over £100 on the annual basis for the most basic building insurance for my home. Most of the risks it would cover, like lightning strike, earthquake, falling aircraft, etc, are hardly probable.

Now, after knowing the following data:

1. Police reported (2007) that 95% of arson in dwellings are caused by pouring flammable liquids through the letter plate aperture.

2. Fire Protection Association (2012): ‘Arson has become the single most frequent cause of fire in buildings of all kinds, resulting in loss of life and injuries, enormous financial losses, business interruption, damage to the environment and loss of heritage buildings. Each year more than 60 people die and 2000 are injured in fires that are deliberately lit, while the annual cost of arson in England and Wales is estimated at £1.3 billion.

3. Arson: a call to action: A ‘State of the Nation’ Report, Arson Prevention Forum, September 2014: ‘With a quarter of all fire deaths now the result of deliberate fires, there is an increasing need to address this. Looking at the fatality data, over 80% of all deliberate fire deaths are in the home, suggesting that interventions to reduce deliberate deaths could be focused here.

There is relative successes – in reducing criminal damage, but not arson; and the huge reductions in accidental dwelling fire deaths, but not deliberate – suggest that this is either a very difficult subject to tackle and/or an issue that does not get the proportionate level of consideration or action.’

In 2014/15, 50 people died in fires that were started deliberately.

4. SBD Official Police Security Initiative. Secured by Design Homes 2016 Version 1; February 2016: ‘There are increasing crime problems associated with letter plate apertures, such as identity theft, arson, hate crime, lock manipulation and ‘fishing’ for personal items (which may include post, vehicle and house key, credit cards, etc.).’

5. One-off figures released by the Home Office following the deadly Grenfell Tower inferno show that after steadily dropping since 2010, the number of deaths by fire across the country rose by more than 50 per cent last year. The data, which does not include the 80 people who have either been confirmed dead or are missing and presumed dead in the Grenfell blaze, shows that in 2016/17 41 people died in house fires, compared to 26 the year before, but down from a peak of 54 in 2010/11.

The Home Office is saying that: ‘The diverse motives of arsonists, vandals and criminals mean that no home or business is immune from an attack’.

Do you still want to convince me saving a one off £100 for the lifelong protection of my loved ones and home against arson?

It’s not just Whirlpool that had problems. It’s also our Hotpoint Aquarius that had a fire risk we were waiting for over 2 years for them to sort out the problem remedied by placing a screw in the back of the dryer. I’m incontinent to so the washer is used constantly. Not happy with waiting 2 years for the engineer to do this repair! Regards Geri.

John A says:
23 July 2017

The failure of the current system relies on people reading newspapers, I know a lot of people do not buy a paper, I think a slot on the TV news would help to get to a lot more people.

I think the failure of our current system starts with all of us who do not bother registering new appliances (including me by the way). (I think one of the reasons why I don’t register anything is because I don’t want to be sent any spam.)

Just to make matters worse, I don’t either buy newspapers or watch TV. I do listen to the radio and, obviously, I subscribe to Which? (including these pages on-line).

I stopped registering products because I did not want my data used for marketing or other purposes. I will register with the manufacturer if this provides a longer guarantee period. I don’t buy newspapers and watch very little TV. I am registered with Electrical Safety First, which provides information about recalls of electrical products. All they have is my email address and I hope it is not used for any purpose other than sending information.

Maybe Which? could let us know about recalls on its website and/or in the emails we are sent.

Can I just add that the real danger to consumers from products in the UK is not from major manufacturers like Whirpool – it is from small to medium sized businesses (and your average Joe selling on eBay etc) importing goods directly from China – usually cheap tat. They often have no clue about product safety requirements and when you ask them for documentation they either have no idea or provide something a bit dodgy their supplier gave them.

Whilst a product safety recall website would be useful for those products, there are some issues. The products may be unbranded or carry multiple different brand name – it is a lot more fragmented than trying to deal with one large manufacturer.

Hoverboards was a good example of this- every man and his dog was importing them but because the manufacturers were abroad each individual seller had to be dealt with in isolation rather than dealing with 1 manufacturer.

We find for example chargers are one of the main dangers – be is for e-cigarettes or mobile phones or pretty much nay other product that needs a charger.

This type of thing is best dealt with by a boots on the ground response.

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I’m a bit concerned if you find products with no paperwork or a bit dodgy from the supplier. A CE marked product with iffy documentation should be seized until and unless the correct and complete paperwork is seen. Suppliers are required to keep a comprehensive file – the Technical File (” All CE marking directives require the manufacturer of the product to create a technical file which should contain the information required to show that the product properly complies with the requirements of the directives which apply to it. for inspection at any time to show that the required testing, with all the results, has been properly carried out.
Policing the system, as you have said earlier, requires resources and expertise that TS has largely lost. I believe until we restore that – it will take time – with proper funding consumers will continue to be at risk from cheating suppliers.

When Which? find such products in their testing do they report them to Trading Standards and does that result in any action?

I think there comes a point where we have to say that if people, despite the profusion of warnings across all media, persist in buying products from unheard of suppliers and back-street importers with no known bricks-&-mortar premises or proper credentials it will never be possible for Trading Standards to keep up, however much their resources are reinforced.

Even the full-sized Trading Standards organisations of times past would have struggled in the present circumstances and I question how much should be spent trying to catch every dodgy trader. Today’s market place is unrecognisable and impossible to police effectively. I am not saying we should accept the present run-down of Trading Standards because I have argued consistently that it needs to be strengthened and restored as a vital piece of the public protection machinery. However, I am tempted to say that we should not take much notice of people who complain about things they have bought from unknown websites, via mobile phones, at knock-down prices and with dodgy docs. The worry is, however, that in many cases the articles represent a potential hazard and TSO’s hoverboard example is a perfect illustration of that. But short of going to Felixstowe docks and opening every one of the tens of thousands of containers that are now being offloaded from a single ship I can’t see how the problem can be effectively controlled and the trade in non-compliant merchandise disrupted. It would be no good just looking at the manifests as they – like the CE marks – will be a pack of lies.

This stuff passes through many hands between arrival in the UK and ending up on a back-bedroom website. It is easy to seize a stash of counterfeit perfume on open display on a soap box in the high street, but it is a different matter trying to intercept illegal goods concealed in many devious ways in an underground industry. We would need a whole army of extra TSO’s and I expect that, at the moment, there are bigger priorities for consumer protection action.

“A fool and his money are soon parted.”

As always, caveat emptor – and only expect to get what you are paying for (or, don’t expect to get what you aren’t paying for, no matter what the adverts say).

Many live in flats and tower blocks. If someone buys an unsafe phone charger and sets the place on fire then they could put the lives of others at risk. It’s vital to tackle the problem of counterfeit and dangerous products even if we take care to avoid cheap and possibly dangerous goods ourselves. I fully support measures to prevent the spread of fire in tower blocks.

“I fully support measures to prevent the spread of fire in tower blocks.”

I’m sure all tower block residents expect and deserve no less than that.

You recently mentioned the ERICPD hierarchy recently, Derek, and the Grenfell Tower disaster provides a good example of how different control measures are relevant.

In response to John Ward’s comment above:That is the problem. However if the public were encouraged to report such defective items to Trading Standards (in a revitalised guise) the seller should be traceable unless they were directly imported by the purchaser. Then penalise the UK source; they are the responsible party for ensuring the goods they sell in the UK are compliant with regulations. The penalty needs to be sufficiently severe to act as a deterrent.

Back street alcohol, cigarettes, cosmetics and the like is a real health problem, but people ignore the advice. Perhaps public information advice in TV showing the effects of such products might better inform us? But we can all choose what to ignore.

Which? no doubt uncovers such defective goods. Do they report it and follow through to see the perpetrators are dealt with. I remember some LED light bulbs they tested that gave an electric shock, for example.

I agree with you. And clearly, residents in other dwellings need improved fire safety too because just 2 per cent of the 30,296 dwelling fires attended by fire services in England in 2016/17 were in purpose-built high-rise flats above 10 storeys.

A unanimous conclusion made by the media and the government is that there are clearly national and systemic failures with fire safety in the UK. Yet, some “experts”, who had historically overlooked the obvious fire safety problems or are involved in supplying the unsafe products, would be unwilling to admit the issues.

It is time for change. I signed the petition Rethink Fire safety – most obvious first! at Change.org and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name and spreading the word.

Malcolm wrote: “I remember some LED light bulbs they tested that gave an electric shock, for example.” Which? publicised this example: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2015/02/safety-alert-led-light-bulbs-recalled-396288/ I only remember because I sent this to Electrical Safety First, which only listed some of the defective Crompton lamps. Perhaps it would be useful to publicise recent recalls on TV, maybe between the news and the weather.

But do they report defective products and follow up to see what action was taken against the distributor?

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At least the recalls are being published and a recall often means that a product might be hazardous. I don’t remember so many recalls of CFLs but there were fewer brands and variants.

The Which? article about the recall of Crompton LEDs does not relate to Which? testing and acknowledges that the manufacturer is aware of the problem. Which? has often mentioned discussing safety issues, discovered during product testing, with manufacturers and this is reassuring.

MRS Judi Ann Fisher….
I purchased a Tumbe Dryer a few years back that turned out to be one of the faulry models manufactured by Horpoint. At the time l had no idea until it caused an issue in the block of flats l live in and smoke poured from back setting all the alarms off and filling the building with smoke . Fortunately l managrd to prise dryer door open before rushing downstairs and running outside. I rang Fire Brigade who arrived within two minutes and went to inspect the machine after smoke stopped….god only knows what may have happened if l hadn’t opened the door to stop machine or l was out. There were families in the block young children etc. I had a fire report and an engineer from Hotpoint arrived and verified it was indeed in need of modification. Hotpoint took the number and logged the modification visit and told me that l was logged for an Engineer to do the job June 2016. I have tried and tried to contact them…been told to forward emails which I’ve done…lve heard NOTHING.

In April my daughter’s tumble dryer caught fire at 1.40am. Fortunately her flat has smoke alarms which went off and she was able to escape with her 3 children. The tumble drier wasn’t on but had finished a cycle several hours earlier and my daughter hadn’t taken the clothes out of the machine nor had she turned it off at the wall. The fire brigade’s report was inconclusive, stating the cause was either:
Bad maintenance of the dryer (my daughter swears she defluffs and empties water after every cycle);
A fault with the electrics in the flat
A fault with the tumble-dryer itself.
The flats have a problem where sewage from the 11 other backs up and flows into my daughter’s bathroom. This has happened several times and the association who own the flats had just agreed to replace the bathroom floor. However, the damp had ingressed into the bathroom wall and on the other side of the wall is the electric cooker in the kitchen. When my son-in-law went to turn the electricity off 2 days after the fire he noticed that the only switch which had tripped was the one for the cooker. The association’s fire assessor has reported that the blame lies with the tumble dryer itself (a one year old Candy), but they won’t allow access to this report and we are a bit suspicious. What does anybody else think, please?

Hi Vonnie,

Thanks for posting this. Here are my immediate thoughts, based on the information in your post.

“The association’s fire assessor has reported that the blame lies with the tumble dryer itself (a one year old Candy), but they won’t allow access to this report and we are a bit suspicious…”

“The fire brigade’s report was inconclusive, stating the cause was either:
Bad maintenance of the dryer (my daughter swears she defluffs and empties water after every cycle);
A fault with the electrics in the flat
A fault with the tumble-dryer itself.”

I agree it seems “odd” that the housing association are certain that the immediate cause of the fire was the dryer, when the fire brigade could not establish that with any certainty.

Also, if the only fault present was the drier, why had the cooker switch tripped – and what caused that?

If water ingress from poor drainage had affected electrical systems in the kitchen, that might actually have provided the ignition source for the fire, which might then have spread to nearby combustible materials, including those in the dryer. (It is well known that water and electricity do not go well together; it less widely known that water ingress into electrical systems can cause fires – so that may be a factor in this case.)

“The flats have a problem where sewage from the 11 other backs up and flows into my daughter’s bathroom. This has happened several times and the association who own the flats had just agreed to replace the bathroom floor.”

That seems to be evidence of “operational complacency” by the housing association, via their reluctance to swiftly acknowledge and remedy defects in their property. Hence, if the water ingress caused the fire, that complacency may be one of the root causes of this fire. Sewage backing up into your daughter’s flat also sounds like a health and safety concern in its own right, the risks of spreading disease and infection ought to have warranted prompt action, even if the other risks from water from ingress (e.g. electrocution and/or fire) were less obvious.

“Fortunately her flat has smoke alarms which went off and she was able to escape with her 3 children.” – At least here, adequate fire protection systems raised the alarm and prevented any casualties.

Hi Vonnie – I suggest that you contact the relevant fire brigade and ask for a copy of the report and any other documents related to the fire. If that is not forthcoming, you could make a Freedom of Information request, but hopefully that will not be needed. Please let us know if you are successful.

It is possible that a firefighter or someone else could have turned off the switch for the cooker.

I contacted Sainsbury’s customer services by email on Thursday 20th July 2017, regarding a Sainsbury’s Collection – Stainless Steel 4 Slice Toaster. The product boasts a 2 year guarantee. Despite the appliance being used with great care and remaining in a almost new condition having only been used for ~6 months it has developed two serious faults:

1. Firstly, the Carriage Handle (LHS) has sheared – due to poor construction material; Bakelite type plastic which may have become brittle on exposure to heat. This could quite easily have caused severe laceration to the user. Fortuitously on this occasion I escaped with only a scratch! I believe this is a serious product safety issue that needs to be addressed with their supplier. I suggested, so as to avoid risk of serious injury to other users who have purchase similar products remedial measures should be considered possibly via a product recall. Please note; the Carriage Handle (RHS), on close inspection, is about to suffer the same fate.

2. Secondly, the toaster fails to ‘brown’ the toast uniformly per carriage/toasting slot. One side of the bread gets toasted to the desired level whilst the other side of the same toast does not.

On submission of my customer complaint I received the following automated response from Sainsbury’s:

Customer.Service
Thu 20/07, 12:56

Thanks for contacting Sainsbury’s. This is an automated response to let you know we’ve received your email.

We appreciate the time you’ve taken to get in touch, and one of our colleagues will reply in person as soon as possible.

For answers to frequently asked questions, why not visit our Help Centre at help.sainsburys.co.uk.

It is now Monday 24th July 2017, suffice to say no one from Sainsbury’s has bothered contacting me thus far – disgraceful!

If only a couple of working days have passed since you complained I’d give them time for someone to properly look at your information. Item 1 is certainly unacceptable. As far as browning is concerned I note that in Which?’s tests, uniformity of browning is often part of the assessment and can be far from perfect.
If you don’t hear by the end of the week I’d contact someone directly. You can probably find a suitable person to email at ceoemail.com.

Shahid – It’s important to distinguish between safety issues and poor performance and as Malcolm has suggested it’s best to give them reasonable time to get in touch.

Many toasters don’t brown evenly, including ones costing over £100.

The question of even browning is vexing .
1. both sides are toasted to the same extent on each setting is one concept
2. visually a large area is evenly brown is another

However in the latter case even browning can be acheived by a slow toaster but the texture of the toast is dryer. An Australian bread manufacturer has studied what people want from toastand even browning is not what is required but a mouth feel of crunch. The Australian consumer body Choice has extended its testing [ they actually do the testing themselves] to include popular seeded bread rather than just supermarket white.

Overall though we cut our home-made and bought loaves so the “toasting” is done by eye and experience using a twenty year old Dualit. Voids in loaves, density of the loaf, dampness, and varying thicknesses of cut all make it a cooking action not a regulated timed event.

No one would dream of cooking a steak by a timer and I simply feel that people who buy toasters that operate this way are doomed to a white shop-bought loaf of bread experience – as per the Which? testing parameters.

The best toast came from a toasting fork and a coal fire.

Even better when it was under an open sky and on a wood fire.

You can have sky whereas others have to put up with Sky and pay for it.

I think only the nature and condition of the bread are relevant to the quality of toast: a whole-grain seeded cob, thick cut, with open texture, a good crust and not too dry.

I think the biggest and most obvious point is the loss in trade by improving standards the executives at the top who are in charge for changing these policies ( or at the very least negotiating change ) would lose so much that the lives and safety of the public do not even come into the equation if meant publishing a net loss a drop in shares and stocks or ratings drop it’s all down to who can get to the top of the tree as fast as possible and how many loop holes and side steps can be taken when doing so I bet it even the most prominent of companies have had their fair share of complaints about faulty products it is sad to think the life of one or many boils down to
Safety + improvement in product quality assurance + regard for life = loss in profit
Yet
Production on mass + increased sales + a few accidents possibly fatal = huge rise in profits greater standing in stock market and dare I say it the powers that be become more ignorant to the facts.
I sympathize greatly with all who have suffered at the expense of a careless nature towards product safety and really back all that can be done to give the consumer better safer and stronger belief in their the products we all buy regularly.

I hope my views don not offend or upset anyone linked to this situation

Ps

It makes sense to centralise this responsibility, because it will then *if constituted correctly) have power to stop sales or force withdrawal from the market and pay compensation, and testing will be cheaper, as it will not be sourced to a myriad of local authorities.

Excellent report!Should not be down to Which…..but well done for the initiative.

Malcolm Redpath says:
25 July 2017

My hotpoint washing machine caught fire! Lucky I was in the Kitchen at the time.
The fire brigade took over 20 mins to come as local fire station over the road was closed. I think I am very fortunate!

Trading Standards and Health and Safety at Work inspectors, are no longer proactive, they only investigate things after a problem has occurred or a complaint has been received, rather than making unannounced visits. due to lack of funding. Goverment should make sure theses department have enough money and staff to do their job properly.

Purchases from China in particular over the internet resulted in products bursting into flames for me more than once. It seems they even forge the approval logos too. As my friend said “what price your home” so don’t sort your online prospective purchases on lowest price first to save a few quid.

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I think its horrendous that products such as dishwashers, washing machines and such slip through the net with regards to safety. Perhaps figures show a decrease in things such as this happening, however the products that do have issues seem to be on a grand scale when they occur. How many lives must be lost before the government do something!?

Items such as bicycle helmets go through such vigorous safety tests before allowed on the market for consumers, so why is this not the case for electrical items? Obviously, there is no need to throw a washing machine under a bus for example to test that aspect of things, but perhaps fire hazards should be the first thing tested and to vigorous scrutiny.

Cast your minds back to the recent Watchdog episode last year where Claudia Winkleman’s daughter was set on fire by a hallowe’en outfit. It took this incident happening to call for stricter tests and regulations on fancy dress products. Surely this should have already been in place!?

Come on Government….tackle these issues that are so important. Wake up and smell the coffee!!

Standards are in place to ensure electrical goods are safe. However, mistakes can occur. I am far more concerned with fake products that pretend to comply but don’t, and slip through the “policing” net without seemingly adequate penalties on the importers when they are found out.

As malcom_r points out, there are existing standards and legislation to ensure the safety of these products.

Where Government might do more, is to beef up our enforcement of these existing regulations, by spending money on bodies such as local and national trading standards.

Perhaps electrical goods should be subjected to a higher rate of VAT, to raise funds for the costs of improved regulation.

David says:
27 July 2017

There has to be a system that penalizes manufacturers when they use what are essentially cheap components rather than ones that are proved reliable. One way would be to stop retailers selling the product until all affected have been recalled/fixed. That would cost the manufacturer real money and they might think twice before using what are really unproved components.

A 1 year old hoover washing machine burst into flames in one of my flats, the tenant was quick enough to turn it off and put it out, Hoover didnt want to know because it was just out of warranty. Trading standards were not interested. I got it checked out and found it was a faultily made circuit board.
I do not allow tumble dryers in my houses unless the tenant has insurance to cover any damage because so many catch fire and my landlord insurance will not cover them.
Too many lives are put at risk due to government inaction.

The end of the warranty does not exclude your consumer rights, Jess. If you go to the Home page and look at the black banner that runs across the top, click on ‘More from Which?’ on the extreme right and find ‘Consumer Rights’ on the page that appears. Use “faulty goods” as a search description and you will find all you need to know on how to exercise your consumer rights.

If the fault was shown to be present from new then under the Consumer Rights Act you have up to 6 years (5 in Scotland) to claim a repair or replacement. If the machine stopped working. If you could not prove a fault from new, the alternative is to claim under “durability” – a product should last a reasonable length of time with all factors considered – such as price, use and so on. We need to meet head-on the problem of products failing just out of guarantee and stop vendors from automatically declining their responsibilities under law.

Your claim is against the retailer of course, not against Hoover. Your contract was made with them.

What concerns me more is the claim that a fire was the result of a faulty circuit board. Since the fire services were not involved it is unlikely that the incident was recorded unless Trading Standards did this. I’m glad to hear that Jess did contact Trading Standards.

R.A. says:
27 July 2017

We had an exploding Indesit washing machine and a Samsung mp3 player that almost caught fire whilst on charge!😦

To be brief it seems that profit margins require fast, mass production which often undermines the quality and safety of a variety of products, so many a list would take ages