/ Home & Energy

Update: Is your tumble dryer a fire-risk?

Tumble dryer

With more than 100 models of Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers potentially posing a fire-risk and an estimated five million of them in UK homes, do you think brand owner Whirlpool is doing enough to publicise the issue?

[UPDATED 25 FEBRUARY 2016] It’s been three months since news broke about the fire-risk posed by some Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers made between April 2004 and October 2015 – 750 have caught fire leading to three injuries. The manufacturer, Whirlpool, has now added 58,000 Proline and Swan tumble dryers to the list of fire-risk machines.

But, Whirlpool has not yet published a full list of the affected dryers, instead advising consumers to check their models at safety.hotpoint.eu and safety.indesit.eu, or by calling 0800 151 0905.

How did you find out your dryer was a fire risk?

So if your Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan or Proline tumble dryer is part of the safety-alert, how did you find out about this?

Whirlpool published a press release and placed an advert in The Times on 24 November. It also tells us that it’s been in contact with around 400,000 owners since then and retailers are also contacting those customers that they know own fire-risk dryers.

How long will you have to wait for a tumble dryer modification?

We called the helpline (0800 151 0905) in the week before Christmas and were told we’d have to wait eight weeks to have our dryer modified. But we were told we could still use the dryer in that time as long as it wasn’t left unattended and the lint-filter was cleaned after every use.

This is a large scale problem – we know that more than 100 models of Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers are affected and the manufacturer has confirmed that there have been 750 fires. Because of this we think that if you have a fire-risk dryer, you shouldn’t use it until it’s been serviced and modified.

What’s happened to you and your tumble dryer?

Is your tumble dryer part of this safety-alert? You can find out by checking at safety.hotpoint.eu and safety.indesit.eu or by calling 0800 151 0905. And we’ve listed the 113 dryers we know to be affected in our news story.

I’d like to hear your experiences of trying to get your Hotpoint, Indesit or Creda tumble dryer modified. Has this happened yet and if it has, how would you rate the service provided? Or are you on a waiting list and how long have you been told it take to have your tumble dryer modified?

Comments
Carol Roberts says:
26 June 2016

I bought a ‘new’ dryer in November. As the fault was discovered in October I assumed that mine would be safe. Alas it isn’t. I was fobbed of between Hotpoint and AO.com for months. The last I heard is that I am on the list for modification in March 2017. I’ve applied to Barclaycard because I paid on my credit card for section 75 refund.

I have had three notifications that my hot point tumble dryer is one of the problem ones. Three times I have replied with model and serial numbers and I have still heard nothing.

Eileen Cromien says:
16 September 2016

Me too. Equally I get a link to ‘when will your appliance be modified’ and it’s blank. I think a class action is required.

My Hotpoint Aqualtis dryer was listed on the website. I re gistered it for repair and since then have received a string of e-mails wiuth messages such as an engineer wil get in touch, etc, etc. The latest communication was that the modification would be complated in June. Since it is now thw 27th of June and Ihave received no further communication I guess that this is another fudge by them to prolong the wait. I have no interest in their replacement units as they are of a lower specification than my current unit whic has worked faultlessly for some 9 years. As a pensioner I also do not consider that I should have to pay for replacement of an item which was faulty at the time of manufacture.

My Indesit tumble dryer is on the fire risk register and I have been given January 2017 for the mod to be done. After endless phone calls and emails I finally got through to Hotpoint. After explaining that being a pensioner and being told by the fire service not to use the machine I cannot afford to keep going to the launderette to get my clothes dry till January 2017, was there any chance of an earlier date. I was told by the person on the phone that I had been told a load of rubbish and that the machine was perfectly ok to use as long as I kept an eye on it. If I saw smoke coming out I was to turn it off, unplug it, call Hotpoint who would arrange for an engineer to come out and have a look at. It had taken me 45 minutes to get hold of someone on the phone. I think these people should not say such dangerous things. Tony Prior. Still waiting.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I’m pleased to say that for me the experience was excellent. After reading the Which? piece last month, I went on the Hotpoint website, entered the Model and Serial No and it was confirmed that my tumble dryer was at risk. A few days later I got an email offering a replacement dryer for £59 and within a week it was delivered and installed. Given that the new dryer would cost £219 and the old one was nearly 10 years old, I have no complaints.

It seems that Peterborough Trading Standards dept has, on behalf of the UK, reached an informal agreement with Whirlpool as to how the tumble drier remedy will be handled. The current timescale is up to around Jan 2017. I wanted to ask Peterborough how this agreement tallied with the requirements of the Sale of Goods Act, which requires as far as I am aware a retailer to refund, repair or replace a faulty or unsafe product without unreasonable inconvenience to the customer. Whirlpool seem to have taken on the retailers’ responsibilities.
I wanted to know why the agreed timescale was so long. It may well be a simple practical problem; not enough technicians available to do it any quicker? Why more customers who were out of guarantee were not being offered immediate replacements at a price; not enough machines available? And since all this was causing the majority of affected customers great inconvenience and expense if they had to find alternative drying facilities, why they were not being compensated until their driers were made safe.
I emailed PeterboroughTS; my request was rejected – I must contact Citizens Advice. I did and received a helpful reply on consumer rights, but none of my questions were answered. I pointed this out so they suggested I contact – Peterborough TS. I did as a courtesy but of course got the same response. Back to CAB who could offer no more specific answers but say they passed my enquiry on to Peterborough – who might reply to me.
So, should Trading Standards at least require Whirlpool to compensate inconvenienced owners until their machines are dealt with? Why are SoGA’s legal requirement apparently overruled?
Why is it made so difficult for consumers to get legitimate information and answers to fair questions? I have no criticism of CAB who did their best to make constructive replies. I just think we need an organisation that is expert in these consumer issues that is dedicated to dealing with them directly. This all started 2 weeks ago and I have not had any response from Peterborough. If I do I will let you know.

I expect Peterborouggh, as the ‘home’ authority for the Whirlpool organisation in the UK, has been lumbered with this problem and does not have the resources or experience to deal with it effectively and expeditiously. Without a competent government department or section getting involved, the Peterborough city council is possibly out of its depth and will remain that way.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

No Duncan – it’s a fudge, and the owners of the defective driers are entitled to better intervention from the public authorities to assert the rights of consumers to fair treatment according to the law. The way people are being treated is disgraceful and they and their homes are being put at risk. There is absolutely no reason why sales of all new tumble driers to homes without one at present should not be suspended until all the unsafe appliances have been replaced, if necessary with other manufacturers’ products. Owners have been seriously inconvenienced, subjected to conflicting information, left in uncertainty on vital safety issues, had to make lots of phone calls and correspondence, and had to make alternative clothes drying arrangements. The authorities don’t seem to have grasped the scale or implications of this problem and are content to plod along at a snail’s pace treading their conventional path trying to keep in with the manufacturer to the detriment of the consumer. It is highly likely that Whirlpool will make a better fist of remediation than Indesit etc would have done, but they took on this liability when they took over Indesit and if they didn’t look under the lid then that’s not consumers’ fault; they are big enough to put it right. I think the abdication of government from meaningful engagement with this problem is a scandal and it has been ledt to a parliamentary committee to put pressure on the company.

I question whether a department like Business, Industry & Skills can effectively represent consumer concerns since its job description puts all the emphasis on supporting commerce and industry. At present it is academic because consumer protection as a government function is a mirage, but if there were any future reshaping of government responsibilities it might be more sensible to transfer this area to the Department of Communities & Local Government [which already has responsibilities under a parliamentary secretary of state for high streets, town centres, and markets] and in order to represent consumers properly in Parliament, across the country, in the media, on the high street and in the industrial estates.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

No Duncan – I wasn’t saying that in other words, and I was not trying to invoke the American constitution nor test the meaning of democracy as it applies to the UK’s unwritten constitution. I was merely saying that the government should make sure the Consumer Rights Act works as intended without fudging and compromising, and that there should be better representation of consumer interests in the machinery of government. I wish to remain uncontroversial.

The CRA (and SoGA) seem to be ignored in the Whirlpool case. Inconvenience – prolonged – for the consumer who is expected to sit up with their drier while it completes a cycle, be prepared to put out any fire that might occur, and have to wait until 2017 before a remedy is applied is not being taken into account, it seems.

Why are Which? not fighting for compensation for these inconvenienced consumers?

Just in case you are thinking of contacting the ombudsman, don’t bother I sent them a full dossier and Whirpool didn’t respond. to the ombudsman so the ombudsman dropped the case. So much for consumer rights. We need a group action..

Which? represents consumers.

Whirlpool have declared that it’s OK for owners to continue to use affected tumble dryers until they have been modified. This goes against standard advice from fire services, Electrical Safety First and other organisations. Has any independent body done a risk assessment?

John questions whether the Department for BIS can represent consumer concerns and this is something that has long concerned me.

I registered my dryer back in November. Received email back saying I would hear something in 5 weeks. Heard nothing else. Phoned them February 23rd and was offered to buy a replacement for £99, I decided to think it over and research the model they were offering, Called back Feb 25th to accept and was told my customer number needed to be reset as previous call handler hadn’t closed my account down when dealing with new customer, told this would take 48hrs. Heard nothing. Rang back 1st March, told to give it another 24 hrs. Heard nothing. 16th March rang back, told I should have been told 1-3wks and to call on the Friday 18th. Called friday 18th and told they needed to generate another as it shouldn’t have taken so long, will take 1-3 weeks to verify… Tweeted 30th March after still no email (couldnt get through on phone) and told I have the correct customer number. So annoyed I haven’t pursued further, reminded when I read your news article in your July mag. Customer number 62753585 – on login it still tells me I have already exchanged my dryer! Absolute farce.

I am concerned that many owners of potentially defective and unsafe dryers are being made to wait a long time before any repair is carried out. Given the scale of the claims this might be the only practical outcome but I think it is unfair to allow this gross inconvenience without compensation being offered to affected customers. I have therefore asked Which? the following through the Members Community:

“SoGA (which applies to the vast majority of these claims) requires an unsafe product to be refunded, repaired or replaced without significant inconvenience to the customer. Correct? If so I do not see how Whirlpool – acting on behalf or the retailers – can possibly be complying with the law. Should we not be pursuing consumers legal rights to get reasonable outcomes “without significant inconvenience”?”

The question seems quite straightforward and if Which? have a grasp of SoGA, as they should, the reply should be equally straightforward.

Which? have not answered this query and when I chased them for a response I received this:
“I’ve now spoken to the Legal Team and they have asked me to pass on that whilst they appreciate you taking the time to ask these questions, they feel that they have spent enough time and answered this query as far as they are willing to do so.”

I expect Which? to be interested in looking after, and advising on, consumers’ rights and this reply came as quite a disappointment. A pity that I should be troubling Which? with such things 🙂 . Perhaps I’ve missed something?

sandra campbell says:
7 July 2016

I have a dryer that is supposed to be getting modified- the email from whirlpool/indesit is dated nov, 2015 and says it will be 5 weeks. Despite several phone calls I am still waiting- ver, very poor customer service!!

sandra, Whirlpool are no doubt in a real problem getting sufficient labour to fix machines quickly. That may be something we have to accept. However I believe that hundreds of thousands of customers like yourself are being very badly inconvenienced by the long wait. Do you buy a replacement drier in the meantime, go to a launderette, sit with your machine for hours in case it catches fire whilst it dries? I believe that this deserves compensation. I have asked Which? if they feel similarly but they refuse to answer that question.

Does anyone else think compensation is justified?

Perhaps Which? should run a campaign?

AMDEA , the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances, is a trade association for white goods manufacturers including Whirlpool. I have checked the AMDEA website periodically and there is no mention of the fire risk. That’s strange since the website has some information purporting to be of help to consumers.

Maybe AMDEA could help Whirlpool by helping to mobilise service engineers to tackle the large number of tumble dryers that require modification because of the fire risk. I would hope that manufacturers would pull together since other manufacturers could benefit in the same way next time there is a major recall.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Thanks Duncan. I was aware of this but have not looked it up until now. eclaim.kccllc.net/caclaimforms/exr/home.aspx The behaviour of both Whirlpool and the VW Group is unacceptable to put it mildly and maybe we should follow the US in dealing with major problems.

I see there is a new Convo about a collective action against MasterCard: conversation.which.co.uk/money/mastercard-walter-merricks-compensation-collective-redress-interchange-fees/#respond

I received a letter dated 18 . 12 .2015 contacted the company same dayit arived to say my hotpoint was one of the faulty machines after phoning several times I had a email will be contacted and fixed June, STILL WAITING. I could pay a bit extra for a replacement though get it straight away .FAT CHANEL I WILL

Laura O'Sullivan says:
6 August 2016

My nanna is 90 years old and has had the appointment for her modification missed on a number of occasions. They have been very unhelpful when I have co tacked them on her behalf. First of all I used the ‘live chat’ option available and when I explained that paying £99 for delivery and installation of a new tumble drier was not an option for her, the operator said there was no circumstances in which they would waiver the fee. I am eight months pregnant and can’t remove the item by myself in order to make use of their click and collect option for £49. The operator kept repeating the same massage again and again and again. It was so rude. When I asked to speak to a manager I practically had to beg. He wouldn’t give me the details. Then, he ‘hung up’ on me.

I tried again, this time phoning their number for maintenance. The operator was so unprofessional, I think he thought he had put me on hold but hadn’t. He was flirting with the girl beside him and then, when I explained that I couldn’t do click and collect because I’m due a baby, he asked if I knew what I was having, a girl or a boy. When I said that I didn’t, he actually said ‘you never know it might be both’. Then, hysterical laughter could be heard from him and the girl he seemed to be on a date with! It was ridiculous. I had to wait for him to calm down and ask her if she could give him his glasses back ‘or she knew what would happen’! I kept my cool but I was furious.

Today, when I have tried to contact the complaints department, they don’t have a phone number, I’m going to email them instead. But basically my issues are:

My nanna is 90 and has an unsafe appliance in her house.

She paid delivery and installation for a working tumble dryer, which she doesn’t have, this isn’t her fault so indent think she should have to pay twice to effectively achieve the result she wanted in the first place – to dry her clothes safely with a working machine.

We cannot pick the new machine up by ourselves because circumstances will not allow it.

Hotpoint have missed their date for maintenance work to be carried out and when I log in to my nanna’s account, it does not provide another expected date.

The customer care was nothing short of disgusting.

Really could do with some advice.

Laura, I would contact the MD of Whirlpool with your plight. I cannot find an email address but a letter would do no harm:
Darren Harrison
WHIRLPOOL UK LTD
209 PURLEY WAY
CROYDON
LONDON
CR9 4RY

I feel sorry for your predicament, Laura, and it shouldn’t be necessary. You might not want to attract publicity but I am sure your local paper would love a story like this. They might be able to appeal for a fit person able to disconnect your nan’s machine and install the replacement. They could run the story in such a way that it appeals to people’s good nature without slagging-off Whirlpool [you still need their cooperation]. A subtle message is often more effective.

Darren works in The Netherlands not in the UK 🙁

Noted, SarahJane. Hopefully, in the six months since Malcolm gave an address for Whirlpool’s CEO, if Laura did write to him at Whirlpool’s Croydon office her letter would have found its way to him by now. If Mr Harrison does indeed operate from The Netherlands, do you have the best address for writing to him as I am sure many other readers would want to know?

This worked for me …. I sent the below email to these addresses

maurizio.pettorino@indesit.com … CEO
darrenharrison@whirlpool.com
customrerelations@whirlpool.com

Dear Sir,

This letter is to formally register the fact that my Hotpoint tumble dryer is affected by the recent “fire hazard” problem.

This letter is to request that my faulty tumble dryer is changed out for a new model that is not affected by the “fire hazard” problem.

This is in line with the recent statement published in the April edition of Which magazine ie

“ We met with Whirlpool and it confirmed that anyone with an affected dryer less than one year old can opt for a free new model ”

I have made several phone calls to Whirlpool in the past weeks to try and confirm this statement and action the change but have only been frustrated in that no one claims to know anything about this “policy”.

I have been advised by the Which legal department to send this letter.

My Tumble dryer is the Hotpoint FETV60CP 6kg purchased from the Co-op in September of 2015.

I was offered a choice of these 3 models

FETV 60C P (UK)

TVFM 70B GP (UK)

IDVL 75 B R (UK)

which will arrive this saturday

To my knowledge the Beko range of tumble dryers has been linked to a number of deaths but this article does not mention Beko.

You are right, Dr Cornier, this Conversation is only about the Whirlpool products. The general fire and safety problems involving tumble dryers [which I think included Beko appliances] have been dealt with in other Conversations which you can access via the index on the Home page [in the box marked “Search Conversations” put in “Tumble Dryers”].

Given the time that many owners of Whirlpool etc tumble dryers are having to wait for modification or replacement of their hazardous appliance, is it not incumbent on the company to provide a free smoke alarm and fire extinguisher to any of them who wants one?

You can contact your local Fire Station & they will visit your home. Are you still fighting Whirlpool/Hotpoint?

[Sorry Sarah, we’ve removed your link as we don’t allow promotional material on Which? Conversation. Thanks, mods]

Fran Cheyne says:
2 September 2016

My Mum is 87 years old and has an affected drier. She can not always lift her arms to hang heavier items ( jumpet, sheet, trousers) to dry on her rack so bought a tumble drier.
She doesn’t use it even cleaned as frightened and as such has lost independence.

I have informed the company of this and she has been without a drier for over 10 months.

If she could afford another model then she would have one…. They sound like they are doing her a favour…. Spend nearly another £100 and you can have a safe one!! She thought she bought a safe one! She can’t afford another one so she no drier and has to try and manage… How is this fair when other faulty goods are refunded straight away. If they did this she could buy a safe one!

I am so sad for her and wish I could help her

I don’t have an Indesit drier but am interested in the way the law might affect owners – particularly the Sale of goods Act which applied when these potentially hazardous driers were first purchased. I’ve posted before on having been frustrated with lack of useful answers.

My first issue concerns the safety of driers and the relevance of the international standard. This states that any non-metallic component within 75mm of the heating element should not support burning. The standard specifies exactly how to test for this, and how to interpret the results. I have asked Which? if they have tested the appropriate model(s) against this requirement to see if the components used comply or not. If they do not comply then driers will have been placed on the market illegally, because only compliant products, CE marked, can be sold in Europe. Failure to meet this would be a serious criminal offence and could alter the approach taken by the “authorities”. If they do comply then the standard should be questioned to see if, and how, it should be amended to prevent this safety hazard occurring in the future. There is a simple route to raising this through the relevant BSI committee. I’ve had no response to this.

The second issue concerns the SoGA requirement that consumers having defective products – in this case unsafe – should not be unduly inconvenienced in their remedy. I regard a wait of 12 months for a repair, unable according to advice to leave a drier unattended while in use, to be unduly inconvenient to say the least and therefore compensation should be due in some form – monetary, loan drier, for example. I have asked Which? and in 2 months and 2 replies they have avoided answering this. I tried to get a view from Peterborough Trading Standards with no response, and through Citizens Advice who were unable to “advise” about this except to….. try Peterborough Trading Standards……….!

I emailed my (very responsive) MP who took it up with the Dept. for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. I have a reply from Greg Clark, the minister, assuring me of their priority in dealing with consumer interests; Margot Jones MP is the minister with that responsibility. They regret the lack of response from Peterborough with whom their officials are in touch with respect to progress in the Whirlpool case. They are assured that Whirlpool are taking all possible action.

Well, I’d like to know from someone whether these unsafe machines fail the BS EN safety standard and whether or not severe inconvenience to consumers warrants some redress under SoGA. And why it takes Which? 6 weeks to reply to a letter without properly addressing the questions, with after nearly 3 weeks no reply, nor acknowledgement, to a follow-up letter. Perhaps the questions I am asking are of no merit and I should not be bothering and wasting peoples’ time?