/ Home & Energy

Win! Safety advice changed for dangerous dryers, but we need a full recall

London Fire Brigade

In a damning indictment of the product safety system’s failure to stand up for consumers, it’s taken the threat of legal action for Peterborough Trading Standards to take enforcement action against Whirlpool.

Some of you will recall that in December 2016, we filed a claim for a judicial review into Peterborough Trading Standards’s handling of the Whirlpool fire-risk dryer saga.

Following the filing of this legal review, Peterborough Trading Standards has since issued two enforcement notices on Whirlpool.

Safety advice

The enforcement notices require Whirlpool to change its advice and warn owners of affected dryers to unplug and stop using the machines until they are repaired.

This has been our advice since November 2015 when the safety issue hit the news. But it has taken until now, and our legal threat, for Trading Standards to see that the risk was all too evident from the hundreds of fires caused by fire-risk Whirlpool brand dryers.

As a result of this enforcement action we will cease with the legal process at this time.

However, Whirlpool still needs to take action to address many of the other points identified by us, namely: addressing the speed at which repairs and replacements are being carried out; acting in the best interests of affected customers; properly training its call centre staff to give accurate information; and publishing a full list of the affected model numbers.

Whirlpool has now aknowledged that the affected dryers shouldn’t be used, so consumers are left without usable dryers, inconvenienced and out of pocket. We therefore want the company to do the right thing and issue a full recall of these dryers.

We also urge those with affected dryers (certain lines of Hotpoint, Indesit, Swan, Creda and Proline dryers) to go straight to Whirlpool and demand your machine is fixed. We also believe you should try and approach the retailer you bought your machine from to request a refund.

Product safety system

I believe this long-running issue highlights the fundamental weaknesses of the current product safety system – it shouldn’t take the threat of a judicial review to get Peterborough to act on its duties as a regulator, stand up for consumers and put their safety first.

This is a failing of the system that I’ll again be highlighting with ministers. We will not stand idly by as issues such as the Whirlpool fiasco go unresolved.

It’s clear that the government must reform the product safety system.

That’s why we’re calling on our supporters to back Andy Slaughter MP’s petition to help force a debate in Parliament on this safety issue and the product safety system.

I urge you to sign this to help guarantee a Parliamentary debate.

On 28 February 2017 the government posted its response to this petition (thank you to @Wavechange for the sharing the link). The response has been expected since the petition passed the minimum threshold of 10,000 signatures. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures it will be considered for a debate in Parliament.

Comments

How and where do I find the list of affected dryers? 😬

Go to http://www.which.co.uk/whirlpool and scroll down

Mrs M A Good says:
23 February 2017

I had my machine replaced within weeks, a Hotpoint and i was happy, however, i have now checked my Hotpoint machine model number and serial number only now to find it is on the list as being one of the ‘offending ‘ ones. Needless to say i am concerned! What were they thinking, replacing my original one , which was dangerous AND replacing it with a ‘dangerous’ one!!

I saw Vickie Sheriff [Which? Head of Campaigns & Communications] campaigning and communicating very effectively on ITV’s Good Morning Britain earlier this morning about the Whirlpool tumble dryer recall and the advice to unplug and not use affected machines. I am pleased that she also got the message across that the Trading Standards function is “not fit for purpose” and urged people to sign the petition in order to get a debate in Parliament. Dramatic and horrific images of the fire in a tower block in west London and at a house in Oxford preceded Vickie’s piece which also drew attention to the fact that most owners of tumble dryers that require modifications have not yet registered them and asked to have them repaired or replaced. Overall a good projection of Which?’s role and effectiveness.

steve plant says:
23 February 2017

I will be interested in watching how this plays out. I had one of the dodgy dryers, I registered for a repair very early on in the process whrn the faults were first reported. But, after waiting a good number of months I finally decided to use the offer from Whirlpool to purchase a brand new discounted dryer. I took this decision as a) I wanted a safe dryer but also b) I anticipated problems that when it eventually came to my turn for the repair, that due to work, I couldn’t guarantee being home for the engineers visit, and the usual “repair appointment booked anywhere between 8am and 6pm”…. And every chance Whirlpool then putting me at the back of the queue again if I were to miss my slot! In other words, I couldn’t be mithered with the hassle (bearing in mind I had gone round the houses several times in trying to follow Whirlpools instructions on their website, the website saying to ring and the phone line saying to register online!! when I finally did get through to someone they said they knew there was a fault with the instruction pathways!!) So, I took the easier for me, but more costly to me, option to purchase a new machine.
I now wonder if anyone who has not yet had a repair, or has chosen not to purchase new, will get a brand new, modified machine, if Which? win their battle for a full product recall???
And I further wonder if I would then be entitled to my money back that I paid for a new appliance?
Not holding my breath but any advice appreciated….

Tom Ireland says:
23 February 2017

You might find that you have waived any entitlement to money back, Steve, although I’m not a consumer rights lawyer so couldn’t be sure. I’m holding our for a full recall and in tandem I’m claiming a refund via Section 75. I was still waiting for an engineer when I got a call asking if I was available for a repair earlier this month. This was received two months later than estimated and not so much as an apology back in December to advise of the delay, or an apology when they phoned up! I’m not accepting the modification, or forking out any more money and have been back-and-forth via email for a week! They even offered me a 3 month warranty on my repair and then increased it to 6 months because I wasn’t having it. Something far wrong and I hope the government nails them for it.

I have had mine (changed) a few months ago but my machine seems to take ages to partly dry my clothes now don’t know what to .

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I have read all the comments made by other contributors, and though I am not now directly affected as I had my Hotpoint dryer fixed a few years ago and have not problems since.
However, I fully support, and agree with all the comments made concerning the natter. I am fully behind the Which campaign calling on the Government and Whirlpool to take further action.

Michael fletcher says:
23 February 2017

I have just found out my dryer is one of the affected ones so asked for a new dryer this was not a problem till they told me that they charge £100 delivery to replace a faulty appliance

What win?

An estimated 2.4 million owners have not responded to communications according to reports who, if they ignored that they will doubtless ignore this.

Those that are paying attention now have been advised not to use their dryer rather than using it with caution so, if one does go up now Whirlpool has a fall back of, “Well you were advised not to use it” therefore, a get out of jail free card.

Compensation will be minuscule, if there is any at all and will take an age to claim no doubt. So most people probably won’t bother, if they even acknowledge it (see previous non-responses).

I’m sorry but I just don’t see how this is good for owners. It’s not really helping them get anything any better or faster from a practical point of view. In fact, in practice, I’d suggest that this will have zero effect.

Great for the media, they can have a field day with it as some have done already with multiple sources so far claiming or alluding to that they were instrumental in this change of tack.

K.

There are still people who are unaware that they own one of the affected appliances so all publicity is useful. The company has been forced to withdraw the irresponsible advice that it is OK to continue to use a potentially dangerous machine waiting for modification. We are moving in the right direction but this could have been done over a year ago.

We need all manufacturers to behave responsibly and make the safety of consumers their first priority.

Jimbo says:
23 February 2017

This government is dedicated to making Britain a great place to do business – a mantra repeated ad nauseum by them. They care little for customers and will struggle to take action against big businesses who provide the main source of funding for the Conservative Party.

Its been around 2 years since we reported to Whirlpool Owners that we had one of their products which was potentially defective. We were sent a letter stating that an engineer would come and make the product safe. My step daughter was contacted to be offered a replacement or repair. She had the repair but has had several further issues since. We now dry their clothes to ensure the Grandkids always have clean clothes etc. We only use the tumble dryer when someone is in and clean the filter after each use. …..and still we wait for an engineer.
WHICH! Can you ask the CEO of Whirlpool if 2 years is the average wait time expected. Each time we use we get nervous, and we’re too paranoid now to have it on and sit in the garden, its really not a healthy situation.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

maisie says:
23 February 2017

I too have been waiting since the first recall for someone to contact me regarding the matter. I e-mailed them a few months as to when the engineer is coming and told them they are a disgrace . When I bought this machine I paid the money in the expectation that I was receiving a good product. If they are faulty they should have been replaced!

When I wrote regarding (changed) tumble dryer i should have said it was repaired not (changed) it took about 18months to get done lots of being passed from 1 person to another

I don’t know why, but the link to the “judicial review result” takes me to a newspaper article (Guardian). Why not to the official judgement, or a Which? statement?

According to the report: ““Trading standards confirmed, following an internal review by independent experts, that the modification programme remains the most effective way of resolving this issue. As a result, we will continue with our efforts to provide consumers with a free of charge modification as quickly as possible. The modification programme will continue. ”

This “most effective” way has now been in “progress” (“regress”?) for nearly 17 months and we still have hunreds of thousands, if not millions, of disaffected customers still with unsafe machines and now ones they are told not to use. How is this a “WIN!”?

We need someone who can resolve this – compensation to owners with unusable machines, and either a guaranteed repair date in the near future, a replacement machine or a cash settlement so they can buy one on the open market.

My daughter was sent a letter asking her to check her model number against a list (which rather passes the buck, in my view). She lives in a top-floor flat and bought a washer-drier so she could leave it on while at work.
Although her model wasn’t on the list, she’s left wondering & now only does washing at weekends.
I thought that buying a well-known make from a well-known store guaranteed the appliance was well-tested & met all safety standards.
What went wrong here?

I would like Which? to do two things for consumers.
1. Discuss urgently with the Consumers’ Minister the role of Trading Standards, and propose local TS concentrate on local issues and pass national issues to a national body. Give consumers direct contact with TS, not through Citizens Advice.
2. Propose an effective product registration system so all (most) owners of products that require attention can be contacted. My proposal is that registering owner details is done by default when purchased, by the retailer, with essential contact details only.

Is Which? going to do a press release with advice for owners of affected dryers?

Which? have put out a number of press releases on Whirlpool already. The Guardian, and no doubt other newspapers, have reported on the advice.

Press releases seem to be the best Which? can do as far as Whirlpool is concerned. They appear to have had no effect upon the “repair and replace” programme for the last 17 months. While affected customers should expect a consumers’ organisation, funded by a million of us, still wait …..and wait…….what good is a press release? They want action. Who is going to provide more than just words? Safe working tumble dryers is what they thought they had bought, and that is what they deserve. Now, not in another year…..or more.

Here is a link to Which? press releases: http://press.which.co.uk/latest-news/

You can find Which? press releases on their website . Also, see “Press Office” for example for a collection of recent ones.

This Convo is headed “Win! Safety advice changed for dangerous dryers, but we need a full recall
I wonder if Which? knows what it means and expects by a “full recall”. Are they suggesting all affected dryers are removed to be repaired? It would be useful to know exactly what they propose, because they could then discuss this with Peterborough Trading Standards, the consumers’minister, and even Whirlpool. However, as Ken points out above, “an estimated 2.4 million customers have not responded to communications” so a recall might prove rather ineffective.

It is time we had compulsory registration of appliances at the time of purchase so affected consumers can be contacted. Perhaps Which? could campaign for this?

Its disappointing to see criticism of trading standards staff on the thread. The service has been decimated for years by funding cuts and lack of support within local government. A situation like this just highlights how bad things are. Some authorities are actually contracting retired officers in to get specific work done as they don’t have staff and recent reports in Scotland and England by the National Audit Office have highlighted to Westminster that trading standards is massively underfunded. As a TS Officer myself I would love nothing more than the service to be provided with the funding and support we need to allow us to do our jobs properly. So direct your anger at the people making the cuts not the dedicated frontline staff trying to deliver a service with little or no resources.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Well said Liza. Have you any suggestions as to how we – the public – can push for major improvements?

I think if you read the comments – well mine anyway – you will see that it is generally the trading standards system that is being criticised, not their staff. and it is recognised that this is due to lack of funding. However I do crititise specifically Peterborough for what I regard as inept handling of Whirlpool, and this will be down to staff; on the face of it they have spent time on the problem but not done it effectively, and not acted in the consumers’ best interests.

I think its a saving money exercise and a complete lack of understanding by the local and national politicians of what the service can offer, therefore rendering us an easy target for cuts without realising the effects. Take the hoverboard fiasco last year when the country was flooded with unsafe hoverboards as the must have xmas present. They were causing fires and accidents all over the country, the sheer volume of imports couldn’t be dealt with by the port authorities so it was left to local TS departments throughout the country to try and deal with the problem. Thousands of these were imported by faceless limited companies with off shore addresses leaving it almost impossible to take any formal enforcement action against the importers. Another example of underfunded trading standards departments trying to swim against the tide, there are loads more issues right now that are causing serious headaches that we are trying to deal with, off topic slightly but illegally imported puppies are being imported in to the UK at an alarming rate, carrying fake documents, not vaccinated and carrying god knows how many diseases, again this is something TS are responsible for but we can’t get anywhere near to stopping this. The role we have and the work we can proactively do has to be recognised and supported by MP’s otherwise it wont get any better.

Liza, can you explain how local trading standards and national TS (and CTSI) work together? It seems to a layman that local TS should deal with local problems, National TS deal with nationwide problems, but with total coordination. Not sure quite where CTSI fits in.And while Citizens Advice no doubt does its best I do not see it as a substitute for allowing individuals to contact TS directly; the people CA employ could perhaps be redeployed to TS to better effect. But whatever else, it all needs funding properly as I, and others, have said. Interested in an insider’s views.

Thanks Liza. I do hope that we can encourage Which? to fight for proper resourcing of Trading Standards. I’m not sure what the public can do to help other than avoiding buying suspiciously cheap products.

Liza said Thousands of these were imported by faceless limited companies with off shore addresses leaving it almost impossible to take any formal enforcement action against the importers.

Instead of hitting small businesses with rate rises that many of them can ill-afford when they are already struggling to compete with internet sales, it is time the government took a hard look at internet traders and importers.

All importers should have a legal UK address before they are allowed to import goods. I have looked on the gov.uk website and not all products need an import licence and perhaps this needs to change to cover all imported goods intended for resale.

Offshore addresses mean importers are not going to be paying taxes, and faceless internet traders trading under multiple names are also not going to be paying sufficient taxes.

If the government does not start protecting our small High Street traders instead of using them as an easy target, they are going to disappear.

I understand your sentiments alfa and agree we need to tackle illicit importers. However, with regard to business rates, many businesses outside London will see their rates reduced, to achieve a better balance between property values and taxes. This will affect many high street shops and is something to support, I’d suggest. It is difficult to know how better to operate a simple system; you could have a profit-based levy, but the disadvantage there is that profitable businesses would end up supporting unprofitable ones, which would seem unfair.

I agree with Alfa’s comment above.

Containerisation means that shipping companies no longer have any idea what is being conveyed on their vessels and inland hauliers by road and rail also have no knowledge of what is inside the boxes. I don’t know what can be done about this but it does make it easy to import counterfeit, defective, and dangerous goods and hazardous materials. It is probably impractical to open every container at the port of entry and inspect the contents, and even a useful sample inspection is probably unmanageable. It seems to me that the only way to provide consumer protection in such cases is to have heightened vigilance when products are offered for sale and a very accessible reporting process so that the public can alert the authorities and the seller or distributor can be investigated. This is another reason why the whole trading standards function needs major reinforcement at both local and national level. passing the laws is the easy bit. We have plenty of good laws but there are traders determined to flout them, even big names in some cases – especially when they have killed off the high street competition.

It is not usual for trading standards to be seen taking a back seat – surely the evidence was sufficient to cause them to act much sooner, It should not take ” Which” to force such an obvious case.

We have been using our hotpoint dryer since 2013 with no trouble at all…we always clean the fluff from the filter every time we put a new load in so no trouble with filter getting full