/ 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.


It is allvery well whirlpool saying unplug the machine and don’t use it until it is repaired. These machines should be recalled immediately. Because how long is it before they do get round to repairing? I was supposedly to wait for 11 months. I went through a website called RESOLVER.COM and they helped with the problem. Although the repair was brought forward by only 3 months, at least that was a great relief.

I used to work for Whirlpool. I was one of their customer care agents and I ended up quitting the job because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Please don’t use these machines until they’ve been modified, and please don’t be surprised if your engineer turns up on the wrong day, or if your machine starts leaking water or refusing to start after you’ve had the modification. These machines are dangerous, and Whirlpool don’t give a crap about their customers.

I have one of the affected machines. I registered for a repair on 16th February 2016′ and advised my repair would be in January 2017. I am still waiting….. The website confirms my repair is overdue, but doesn’t offer a new date. Instead they say they are working hard to reduce the delay, and will arrange a new date for me in future. Unbelievable!!! I have a young family and can’t do without my tumble dryer. It looks like I am now forced to buy a new machine from hot point. Well, it’ll be the last appliance I ever buy from them!

Clearly this is ridiculous ,these machines are faulty,not fit for purpose or more importantly safe. Therefore must be recalled ,grow some and do what’s right.

So all the fluff and lint is fault of hotpoint
Just look up the vent hose is it blocked? If it is then in block it
Which need to stop spreading this rubbish

Rosemary says:
24 February 2017

This fault should be sorted out by Whirpool ASAP

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It’s nice to have the occasional comment rather than the increasingly common ‘b***h at Which?’ I did sign Andy Slaughter’s petition but I wonder why our government can’t just insist that the matter is debated in Parliament. I want to see evidence that this country is run by government and not by business.

Who has won what? Many people are still waiting for dryers to be replaced or repaired. We have spoken in the past about the need for action, not words, and my guess is most customers want their dryer sorted, not told to unplug it. 🙂 I know I’m an ungrateful s*b, but after 17 months we should expect more from the public face of consumers – in my opinion.

What exactly is the “recall” that AS requires? There is no indication of what it actually means in practice, nor how you will recall from up to 2.4 million people who, after 17 months, have not registered their dryer with Whirlpool.

It is always laudable when a politician says “something must be done”. However, as an engineer, I am more interested, in practice, in “what can be done”. Practical suggestions have been made in the past in these Convos by a number of people; a pity these seem not to form part of the present discussion, either by Which? or, presumably, Andy.

“‘b***h at Which?”. This seems an inappropriate comment. If you think a criticism of Which? is unjustified then you can explain why and that will progress the debate.

I do not think Which? always deals with matters correctly; I am prepared to say so because I am concerned that the consumers it represents should be both properly informed and helped. I do that in a constructive way (well, I try to) in the hope that, if others agree, improvements will occur. No organisation is perfect and above criticism. We pay collectively £100 million a year for it to represent consumer interests and it is healthy for it to be held to account by those who continue to support it.

In this topic, Whirlpool dryers, I think it has been largely ineffective in helping consumers get drying again. It has partly reversed its initial advice on obtaining redress. It has not made positive and practical proposals to get remedies done more quickly, nor discussed compensation, despite many constructive contributions made by a number of well-meaning contributors. So I think criticism is valid.

Maybe they need more practical people in their organisation?

A recall is the normal way of manufacturers informing the public that there is a potentially serious safety issue with one of their products. I suggest that the recall is widely publicised on TV and in the press, funded by Whirlpool.

Malcolm – I have frequently disagreed with and criticised Which?, as you can see if you look back at earlier posts. I feel, however, that some of the criticism may not be warranted.

You have repeatedly defended BSI, yet they have failed to introduce a requirement for appliances to be able to contain fire. I have said on numerous occasions that I value standards but in this matter I would like to their failing investigated. Any electrical appliance can go on fire for a variety of reasons, but surely they should be designed in a way that prevents fire spreading, resulting in the loss of homes and even lives.

“BSI have….failed to introduce a requirement for appliances to be able to contain fire”. This is untrue – they have not failed to introduce such a requirement. BSI work as one part of an international standards organisation that is charged with ensuring appropriate “harmonised” standards are introduced worldwide. They will introduce requirements when they are agreed internationally by those who are knowledgeable, expert, with the evidence to support proposals. This organisation has, among other material, information about the possibilities of fire containment currently in front of them.

These harmonised standards are agreed at international level and are not produced in an unco-ordinated way for different nations to “do their own thing”. This has all been reported in previous conversations.

I have also reported that BSI have a current and active working party looking at fire in domestic appliances in general. I have passed them information I have relating to fire containment which they have acknowledged, and were already investigating.

I appreciate you have well-meaning suggestions, as have many of us. I have urged those who have these to communicate them to BSI, or persuade Which? to aggregate them and do that job. I have discussed things directly with BSI and received positive responses. In doing so I believe I have also opened the way for Which? to establish an improved “engagement” with BSI. I hope this may be reported.

“A recall is the normal way of manufacturers informing the public”. Yes, I know what a recall is. What I am getting at is what such an “informing” recall will achieve, given the miserable performance shown by Whirlpool to date.

A proper “recall” would be contacting all affected owners and taking their machines for repair, replacement or refund with the minimum of delay and inconvenience. No official proposal has been put forward as to how this will be achieved in practice. And until we have compulsory registration of appropriate products, all owners cannot be informed of a recall for their specific appliance.

I want to see people have the safe, working, tumble dryer they thought they had purchased – which means a guaranteed repair a.s.a.p. or a decent replacement. That is about creating “action”, not telling people yet again that their Whirpool dryer might be unsafe.

This is why I regard a petition for a recall with no proposals behind it as just words, when what is needed are effective actions . We are 17 months into this farce – words don’t help those affected.

I am still hoping that Which? will take up the issue of fire risk of appliances and in particular the increase risk associated with use of plastics in place of metal in parts of the casings. Maybe it’s time I posted some more photos of burned-out appliances to provide further evidence of the problem.

I would appreciate support for making standards publicly available online because public safety depends on them being available to practical and knowledgeable people who can help improve them.

I am hoping that in future Which? will be better placed to liaise with BSI. The issues raised by contributors to Convos and directly with Which?, as well as their own experiences and tests, will I think be a valuable and appreciated contribution.

International standards lay down scientific tests for plastics done in controlled and reproducible conditions so they are properly evaluated for the jobs they do. Those involved in science and engineering know the importance of controlled testing.

There are an estimated 93 million white goods appliances in use, let alone a vast number of small electrical appliances, very very few of which cause a problem. Will simply posting one example of a fire here and there, when the cause is not known – abuse, misuse, fault – do more than just sensationalise an issue that is already taken seriously? We all know the effects of fire and we all want to avoid such problems, but we will never have a 100% safe world. Regrettably we cannot have safety at any cost; we have to work for improvements in a considered and measured way. Just as planes will always crash (but very rarely), cars will cause accidents, a short circuit will occur in your wiring.

International Standards have ensured that safety standards are mandatory in the products we buy, and they are subject to continuous improvement. I have given links to BSI for people to communicate their own ideas – I urge them to do so.

What I have suggested is that plastic components in the cases of tumble dryers are replaced by metal and that a metal plate is added to the base of the dryer if not already present. That is hardly a great expense and should prevent the spread of fire even in the case of misuse, such as failure to clean the lint filter or overloading, as in the example below.

Here is a photo a dryer where plastic components of the case have melted/burned:

Source: Accrington Observer

In this case the fire did not spread but obviously it could have. Would it not make sense to go back to building dryers with metal fascias and doors? A few years ago my neighbours replaced a Parnall dryer from the 1950s. That had an all-metal case.

On behalf of those who have lost their homes in fires I am not keen that problems that could be dealt with easily are regarded as insignificant.

No one is regarding these as “insignificant”. You have a view on this, others in this Convo have had other views. The main thing is to put views in front of knowledgeable and expert people who can take appropriate action. Exactly what I have said the BSI working group on fires and domestic appliances is set up to do. I suggest it is better to put your views to them, rather than just leaving them in a forum. I have had constructive interchanges with BSI; I am sure you would also if you put your suggestions to them.

I have explained several times that I have no intention of contacting BSI until I have had the opportunity to read the relevant standard and related documents. As you know, most standards must be read in conjunction with other documents. Once I have done this I will be in a position to make informed and useful comments. You have said that you have access to British Standards but declined to explain how I and others who have an interest in the topic might gain access, other than by paying a considerable amount of money.

My access may be vulnerable so I am reluctant to prejudice that. I do pass on information as freely as possible, and as impertial as I can, but many standards are lengthy and draw on other standards as you say. I hoped Which? would have total access and be able to arrange something with BSI Online for nominated Members. I have had no luck in the past but you might like to see if have more success.

However, I don’t think lack of access to international standards should bar anyone from passing on well-thought-through and practical suggestions.

Let’s take a different approach then. I have explained my concerns about use of plastic that can burn or melt in the cases of appliances, rendering them incapable of containing fire. I have pointed out examples of appliances where plastics in casings have not survived fires (see above for an example), making it possible for fire to spread. I have established that my four large appliances have flammable plastics in the casings. You know what is in the relevant standards documents and I do not, so it would make sense for you to contact BSI on our behalf.

If we want official liaison with BSI then Which? seems to me to be the best vehicle for consumers, and I believe I may have oiled those wheels. If you have something you believe will be of value to BSI – and hence the international committee – then I can only once again suggest you make it known, ideally direct to them or maybe through Which? You do not need access to standards to do this, although I understand your wish – like mine – to have access. Standards are rarely stand-alone documents, as they naturally call on many other standards for common features (tests on materials, specs for electrical components, for example).

EN 60335-1 applies to household and similar electrical appliances. Section 30 is headed “Resistance to heat and fire” and has 6 pages of detailed requirements, referencing the relevant test procedures and related standards. 30.2 says “parts of non-metallic material shall be resistant to ignition and spread of fire”. So the use of plastics, for example, is covered comprehensively. It forms the basis of EN 60335-2-11 relating to tumble dryers, which adds specific requirements.

This standard is dated 2014 and has work in progress. As I have said earlier, I have spoken to BSI about the question of fire in tumble dryers; and they have told me that this is under consideration, along with fire in other domestic appliances, by a BSI working group. No doubt their work will contribute to the IEC work who are meeting in June. BSI and IEC are aware of the work Underwriters Laboratories have done on fire containment.

Let us ignore the British Standards for a moment and look at the photos I have posted on this and previous Conversations. They all show that plastic components of the case have burned away or melted, with the risk that fire could spread to kitchen units or anything flammable nearby. Is that a reasonable conclusion?

“Is that a reasonable conclusion?”



Would you be kind enough to explain, Kenneth?

I have explained this several times, I don’t see repeating it holds any benefit.


So if a fire starts in a tumble dryer with plastic components in the case it will not spread?

Explained previously. I do not understand how repeating the same information repeatedly will make any difference and I do not have the time to do so.


Not everyone will have read our previous exchanges, Kenneth, so it could be useful to repeat the point or simply put in a link to the previous post.

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Jan B says:
25 February 2017

I thought I must be one of the lucky ones- I have one of the affected machines but am with British Gas appliance insurance- they came out and sorted the issue- or at least they said they did… beginning to worry now if it is still dangerous… How can you tell?

I understand that the modification involves replacement of the back panel, so unless you know that this has been done it is best to assume that your machine has not been modified and notifying the manufacturer. Machines that had been modified before sale were marked with a circular green sticker that is visible when the door is opened and I assume that one of these will be applied to modified machines.

I was told by Whirlpool that the engineer to repair/upgrade our dryer was scheduled to come in MAY 2016 ?
It is now nearly MARCH 2017 & as yet NO ONE has arrived or got in touch again ? We have tried to get back to them & heard nothing ? I am now fed up with the whole saga & would just take the money & save them the cost of coming out ? If you know of a way to contact them to ask for a refund & where to dispose of the dryer, I would welcome any advice ?

I have one of the faulty driers, and I have been waiting for nearly a year for the job to be sorted.
I refused a new replacement at £99 as is was not the same model but a cheaper one. And I am still waiting for some official notice from Hotpoint regarding the DO NOT USE warning. So I am not holding my breath. Like my Dad said. Don’t wory son, It’s JAM TOMORROW.

I have one of the faulty tumble dryers, and reported it to Whirlpool. I was offered the option of a replacement machine which I did not accept, as I was not impressed with the model they would have given me. I am still waiting to hear from Whirlpool as to when they will repair my present dryer.

Here is a link to the discussion about the safety of tumble dryers started by Andy Slaughter MP in the House of Commons last September: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-09-13/debates/16091346000002/FaultyTumbleDryers(FireRisk)

By far the bulk of this debate was criticism of the way Whirlpool have handled this. Quite right too – that is the big problem. It was disappointing that Margot James thought they had performed quite well! It was also disappointing she thought Peterborough Trading Standards had done a good job – in fact they have presided over Whirlpool’s abysmal performance that they have approved and monitored.

No mention of the part Which? has played, as far as I can see.

We need Whirlpool made to deal with this problem swiftly, we need urgent action on setting up a proper product registration system so recalls can be dealt with effectively, and we need to look at how trading standards can be properly funded.

@pvicarysmith Have Which? met with Margot James to look at these problems/

Product registration is mentioned a couple of times in the debate. Andy Slaughter said: Part of the reason for that is that there is no compulsory registration, and there is not even an incentive to register products when they are bought because usually in the process of registering a product people are also asked to sign up to all the marketing and other guff that comes out of that. Rather than being bothered and pestered to buy all sorts of warranties that they do not want, people will say, “No, I am not going to register this product.”

I share Andy’s concern and it is quite clear that the commercial world has betrayed the trust of consumers, even though some companies have behaved responsibly.

The only way that product registration will work is if we have a trusted system that is managed independently of companies. What is needed is a recall system like the one that is currently run by DVSA for contacting the registered keepers of vehicles if there is a safety issue. We are already half way there because recall information for all goods is collected and maintained via the EC Rapex service: https://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumers_safety/safety_products/rapex/alerts/main/?event=main.listNotifications

No proposed system was put forward – it mentioned Electrical Safety First, but no mention of AMDEA. However, as with cars, we need compulsory registration with essential contact details only and no other use for marketing; I have proposed that this be done at the point of sale by the seller. Would you support this? What needs developing is the database behind registration; perhaps a university could be contracted to develop this?

The debate also seemed to be out of date on facts – it mentioned the advice Whirlpool give to use a dryer but not leave unattended. I did not see (at a quick look) any reference to the updated advice as a result of Which?’s judicial review. This is worrying.

“it is quite clear that the commercial world has betrayed the trust of consumers, “. That sweeping statement would benefit from justification. I could say the Trading Standards organisation has betrayed the trust of consumers, but I wouldn’t consider that appropriate. It is Peterborough TS that has let us down.

No point in rhetoric, from anyone including the government. We just need action to set up a recall system (talked about by Govt in Feb 16 and now 2 years to a report – urgent is it?). And we need to force Whirpool to resolve their approach to repair, refund and replace.

Electrical Safety First is a charity provides a list of recalled products and it has a useful email service, but the drawback is that only covers electrical items. It is important that the public is informed about potentially dangerous toys, children’s car seats and many other products. Amdea covers only a restricted range of electrical goods and only ones sold by members of the trade association. I don’t want to give my contact details to an organisation that might pass them on to the companies it represents. I would not be happy with retailers taking my contact details but others might be happy with this option.

I would like to see recalls handled by a government department, making use of information provided by the manufacturers of recalled products. I don’t know if a university would take on developing a database but that might be worth trying.

The discussion in the House of Commons was on 13 September, which is before Which? sought the judicial review.

It’s all out of date. Regarding AMDEA I have made the point that only essential information should be compulsory. However, i am not suggesting that AMDEA should run a scheme, and I must admit that I am not confident either in the Governments ability to do so; they will outsource it to a contractor, more than likely, which is not a good solution to my mind.

However, first things first. Unless we have copmulsory registration we can never have a full recall. That is clear. So we need to deal with that, and then move on to how a database is run. Who is going to action this, as opposed to talk about it interminably?

We are a bit off-topic, Malcolm, but in view of the fact that some are still blissfully unaware of the Whirlpool dryer problem, maybe we can be tolerated by our moderators.

You may remember RecallUK, a charity that provided useful information about recalls but folded a couple of years ago because of a lack of funding. Now we have an entirely different service called UKRecall: http://ukrecall.org.uk “Powered by the Retail Ombudsman”, no less.

I don’t know how long this service has existed but a registration service that does not ask for the make of a product is clearly not likely to be very useful. I’m alarmed that it does ask for the purchase price and wonder what relevance this is. Maybe it would get passed on to the manufacturer if they had bothered to ask for that information.

I have no intention of passing my information on to a trade body, Malcolm. You are welcome to do this if you wish.

Edit: Malcolm wrote: ““it is quite clear that the commercial world has betrayed the trust of consumers, “. That sweeping statement would benefit from justification. ”
What I wrote was: “I share Andy’s concern and it is quite clear that the commercial world has betrayed the trust of consumers, even though some companies have behaved responsibly.” As you can see, I have provided justification.

I do not see the source of your “justification”, particularly given the praise
directed at Samsung for the way they handled their phone problem.

I think “recall” is exactly what this Convo is about, as the title says. To get to all those with defective products we need to know what they are, and who owns them. Are we going to talk about it for years, or actually do something?

Incidentally, it is possible the recall will be handled by a commercial company as the government originally stated they would not run it. That is, if we ever get round to it.

The wife and I were so worried about how long the company would take to rectify our indeset dryer that we accepted Hotpoints offer of a new dryer for £99.00 even though our own dryer was only 2yrs old and was in excellent working order apart from the fault we should not have been charged for a replacement and I am sure that many other people took this option due to the worry about fire in their homes. I wonder if we shall ever see our £99.00 again.

Carol Hutchings says:
26 February 2017

I had a Hotpoint that was on recall. I had been using it for two years before the troubles came to light. I registered the machine and within six weeks I was offered a new machine for a cost of about £50.00.

I accepted this offer, after all my machine was two years old, it was delivered within five days, fitted and the old one plus all rubbish taken away.

I am delighted with the outcome. The machine is bigger than my original, and dries very well with many programme options.

I am somewhat surprised that more people have not accepted the offer as most customers have had at least a year or more use out of the old machines.

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duncan, if I may repeat what I said when these Convos first started. If you have a machine up to 6 years old (5 in Scotland), and can prove the fault existed from new – and Whirlpool have admitted this for many of these dryers – then the customer can choose (their choice) between having the machine repaired or replaced. This is according to the the Sale of Goods Act.The law also gives remedies if this is not done within a reasonable time or causes unreasonable inconvenience.

That was my understanding of SoGA. Perhaps Which? could correct any misinterpretation. Otherwise, why were affected customers not advised to go back to their retailer and simply choose to have a replacement dryer?

It seems that Which? is now suggesting this, but 17 months overdue. As for Trading Standards, why were they not applying SoGA?

I am intrigued to know what a top-end tumble dryer does that a low-end one doesn’t. Unless it also did the ironing I wouldn’t be interested.

Mine does 🙂

I don’t want gimmicks, unused programmes, and so on in an appliance. I want something that does the job it is designed for properly and for a long time. So if I pay more, I would want high quality components, well-controlled manufacture and quality control, and a fundamentally sound, tried and tested design.

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In general, the more you pay for a product, the more bells and whistles it has and the more that can go wrong. Cars are the best example.

If anyone would like a tried and tested washing machine that has worked well for 34 years I have one gathering dust. Spare parts may no longer be available.

Not so. We have a Miele dishwasher, with only a necessary number of programmes and no bells or whistles. A “quality” car will have no more features necessarily then those built into a cheaper car. A decent bit of workshop machinery will do much the same job as a cheap one, but better. These should do their job for longer than something made down to a price. I would be (am) prepared to pay more for something that I hope does its job well and lasts longer, and there are products that do just that. I think I gain in the long run.

When Which? do testing, I hope they will pay more attention to design and build quality and durability, for those people (many I hope) who, given the right information, would spend their money more wisely. I do not see why a successful dishwasher or washing machine needs to change, once a bug-free design has been established; concentrate on building it consistently well with quality components. If others want cheap appliances and understand they get what they pay for, that is, of course their choice.

I did say ‘in general’. I challenge you to find a model of car where the more expensive variants do not offer more features than the cheaper one.

While phones and computers are still advancing, there is less need for change in white goods. My 2016 washing machine does much the same job as the one I bought in 1982. I can see some features that are better and some that seem worse.

If only spending more provided an assurance that goods will last for longer. I suggest that it will help more people if we focus on getting unreliable shoddy goods off the market.

Am I the only one who thinks ‘Best Buys’ often get their status based on their low price rather than quality and performance?

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We are regularly told how the ‘Test score’ for products is arrived at in each batch of tests and that this ignores the price. I have never understood ‘Best buys’ and don’t worry too much, though I’m glad that ‘Don’t buys’ are regularly included.

I am disappointed by the sound quality of a small ‘Best buy’ radio that I bought simply because it is small, battery operated and receives both DAB and FM.

Your present washing machine will almost certainly use less water and electricity than your 1982 edition. Whether this EC drive for ever shrinking economy is worthwhile to the user, or the planet when more and more resources go into new models is, I think, questionable. ,

There are now at least three of us who think that a “good buy” should include design and build quality plus durability. A good measure would be a £ per year. So if a cheap £250 washing machine lasts 3 years on average, and a more expensive – £350 – lasts 6 years, which is the “best buy”?

There is no doubt that new machines use less water and inadequate rinsing is a common criticism. I tend to use choose the option to add extra water like many users, which annoyingly is only possible with some programmes. I did record the electricity consumption for the old machine before putting it into storage. To check the new one I would have to pull it out to access the plug and socket.

Let’s move the discussion of Best Buys to The Lobby.

wavechange, on cars, I was suggesting that you can buy a quality make of car, or a cheap make of car, the basic models of which may well have similar features. But the quality car is likely to be better built, with features that work longer. I do not dispute that if you pay more for the same model of car you are likely to get more features – but not the point I was making.

Our Miele dishwasher has probably similar basic features to an Indesit, but for quality and durability I’d prefer it.

There seems to be a great deal of luck about cars so thankfully we have moved on a lot since the one year guarantee was standard. The cars I have bought are in the low to mid-price range and the last time I called on a breakdown service was in 1989. If I covered a higher mileage I would be prepared to spend more on a car.

About ten years ago I decided to buy a Miele washing machine to replace my elderly machine when it let me down. Thanks to the warnings from Mr Watt about Miele spares being expensive and restricted to approved repairers I bought one of the cheaper ones with an extended warranty. Only time will tell whether this was wise. What interests me most about products is cost of ownership.

My understanding is that Which? gets its reliability information from surveys. I wish it would ask for more detailed information, such as how much use products get, a point that others have made repeatedly.

This has been an interesting discussion, as always, but I was specifically asking about tumble dryers, since this is a Conversation about tumble dryers. I was prompted by Duncan’s response to Carol Hutchings yesterday in which he, quite rightly, referred to top-end and low-end machines. He suggested that people who had a high-spec “Whirlpool” machine would not be happy with a basic replacement. Since tumble dryers have a very limited number of functions I was wondering what the difference was. I can appreciate the differences between cars, washing machines, and dishwashers at different price brackets but am at a loss to understand what it is about tumble dryers that leads to categorisation into top-end and low-end; I am not denying that there are such attributes but was trying to suggest that as a consumer society we have chosen the wrong values and are suffering unfortunate consequences.

My thinking was that it is possible that people have been paying over the top for tumble dryers to match other appliances or because they are the right colour for their home and in this pursuit of false differentiation and market segmentation by irrelevant values the manufacturers have pandered to consumer sensitivities and ignored safety and performance deficiencies. People want a machine that tumbles their washing in a hot air stream until it is dry, and preferably without catching fire and also without having to sit next to it for hours on end. It has been suggested that a high price is not necessarily a guarantee of superior performance, or even of better materials and construction. It is possible that a high spec machine will be more reliable, safer, and longer lasting, that it will dry quicker, that it will take a bigger load, or have some other performance advantage. But this does not appear to figure in consumer choices.

Things are still going round and round in my mind.

We’ve a Zanussi condenser dryer bought 9 years ago for £279, so I suppose it was mid range or just under. It’s dial selects different degrees of dryness for different fabrics and it has sensor dry. Apart from cleaning the filter and emptying water the only other maintenance has been an occasional wipe inside the drum with white vinegar to clean it and the sensor. Most of the options are not used. And it does not get too much use when we can hang washing out or use a clothes horse.

My ideal criteria would be performance, durability, repairability and a decent warranty. I wish we had assessments that included these. Otherwise, cash permitting, I would look at what seem to me to be good quality manufacturers.

As far as Whirlpool – well Indesit and other badges – are concerned, unsafe appliances up to 6 years old should, under the Sale of Goods Act, be replaced (if the consumer chooses that rather than a repair) with a dryer at least equal the original machine, without cost. My understanding still of SoGA. Is this other people’s understanding?

If we simply look at cost, then the more expensive dryers will be heat pump models. These have a compressor like a fridge, freezer, dehumidifier or air conditioner. The technology is well established and should be reliable despite the greater complexity. They are considerably more energy efficient but take longer to dry. I see the lack of the high temperature heater as an additional advantage over condenser and vented dryers.

More expensive dryers will have sensors to automatically control drying, but these are not always reliable.

As I have said elsewhere, you don’t need a heat pump dryer to have a lower temperature heater and longer drying times; perhaps that is a good way to avoid the higher cost but add, if it is necessary, the extra safety in a conventional dryer.

That might be a solution but as far as I know that kind of drier is not available at present, whereas heat pump dryers are made by a variety of companies.

I have written to Which? about this before, but had no acknowledgement. It seems to me that if Whirlpool and everyone else is confirming that the defective machines should not be used, people’s house insurers are likely to try and avoid paying on a claim if a fire is caused through the use of such machines. I suggested that it might be appropriate for Which? to issue advice to members to this effect, but have neither seen nor heard further.

As far as I can see, the Sale of Goods Act seems to require a faulty (unsafe) appliance under 6 years old to be repaired or replaced at the customer’s choice. So should those people who have been asked to pay for a replacement dryer within this time have their money refunded?

I would hope so, Malcolm.

Given that the failure of Peterborough City Council trading standards to compel Whirlpool [through its retailers] to honour the Sale of Goods Act and the Consumer Rights Act, in cases where they apply, is at the root of this problem, perhaps the council should be held liable. In some ways it’s a pity this isn’t going to court now.

I had always removed the fluff from my Indesit tumble dryer after use as advised and was therefore very surprised to hear about the fire problems. I was told that I could have my old but faithful machine modified and was expecting to have had this done last October. I then had a letter from Whirlpool offering me a new Hotpoint machine for £59 which was obviously a no brainer in view of the age of my machine. I am now the very happy owner of a good looking machine which does all I want it to and am obviously still making sure I remove all the fluff after each use. As a qualified timber and damp surveyor looking at many buildings I would be interested to know how many of these fires only occurred in machines where the fluff was rarely if ever removed. I kept using my old machine up to the day when my new machine arrived and never had any problems. As someome with a scientific background I had quickly established when I first got my Indesit tumble dryer many years ago that the machine operated much more efficiently using less time and therefore electricity when only a few items were dried at a time. I think this subject deserves a much more balanced assessment and if the real problem is the operator who forgets or can’t be bothered to remove the fluff after use, then perhaps it would be a good idea to build in a simple design feature which could mean that you have to take the filter out and put it back before you can switch the machine on again. I can see this would be annoying to people like me who have always been meticulous about using the machine correctly but sometimes you have to include safety features to take into account the possibility of misuse by an operator not following the instructions. Thankyou Whirlpool for the very good service I have had from you.

You are right about tumble dryers working more efficiently with small loads, which is why users of washer/dryers are advised to take part of the load out before starting the drying cycle. Keeping the filter clean makes the machine more efficient too.

I have been pushing for some sort of interlock to force the user to clean the filter before every use but some have said that this is unnecessary and too costly. As you say, it’s simple. Washing machines have had interlocks for a different purpose (to lock the door when the machine is in use) for many years.

I don’t think a simple washing machine door lock and a filter blocked sensor lock are the same simple things. If you just have to remove a filter and replace it to deactivate the lock, then many people will do that, without bothering to clean the filter, to get the machine working. I’ve yet to be shown evidence that the sort of filter we have on our dryer – at the front of the drum – is going to cause a fire if it is blocked (the standards test for blocked filters). I believe that leakage of fluff into the heater at the back of the machine may be to blame, and it is in this area I believe Whirlpool are making modifications. But….I may be totally wrong. I have yet to see an official explanation as to what the Indesit fault is all about and what the remedy is and what it achieves. Have I missed it?

A ‘filter blocked sensor’ is relatively complex and possibly unreliable whereas what Margaret has suggested is a simple and inexpensive solution. I have suggested this approach numerous times in our discussions. Yes it is possible that the user could remove and replace the filter without cleaning it but there are many ways of circumventing devices provided for safety. For example, you could plug in the catch of your car seat belt to prevent warning lights and audible alarms and sit on top of the belt. Hopefully most people would have more sense and the interlock would help avoid dryer fires.

I think you said you have a condenser dryer, Malcolm. In these dryers, hot moisture-laden air from the drum passes through a filter and is cooled by a heat exchanger before being re-heated by a high temperature heater. If any lint gets past the filter during cleaning or if the filter was distorted it could be blown onto the heater unless a secondary filter is present. From memory, the figures provided by London Fire Brigade indicated that there were more fires involving condenser dryers than vented dryers, but without knowing how many of each are in use it’s difficult to come to any useful conclusion.

My dryer has no lint problem and the filter in its housing is very robust. People do, for convenience, laziness or whatever, not do things they should. Check car tyres, clean dishwasher filter and arms, top up water softeners, have their gas boiler checked each year, …….we use the excuse of being busy and, of course, things simply get forgotten.

I would like to see some facts about Indesit, though, including how it went on for so long undetected. If there were such a big problem with fires caused by products on the market for 10 years, why was the problem not seen and acted on sooner? And what did Indesit know? If they have concealed information about a (lack of) safety issue, why are the EC not prosecuting them?

I still hope someone will tell us exactly what the fault is with Indesit dryers and how the fix actually works. Otherwise we will keep coming up with solutions to problems that may not be significant.

As you say, Malcolm, important things can be forgotten. That’s why it is important to have an interlock to force users to clean their dryer filter. We also need to build appliances so that they can contain fire, so that the worst that can happen is that the appliance is wrecked rather than the house burning down.

Not necessarily forgotten. I was saying some get ignored or bypassed. Human nature. I still want to know the facts about Indesit dryers. Why does no one tell us? Do Which? know?

This is a good example of a case where it would be useful to make a Freedom of Information request of a company, but companies are not required to respond to such requests. I know of one organisation that has found the best way of avoiding tiresome Freedom of Information requests is to make information publicly available on its website.

If their is a valid reason to get information from a company I expect those who regulate these companies would do that; they would also be in a position to decide whether the information is to be made public. in this case i see no commercial sensitivity involved in Indesit dryers; it should be quite straightforward to know the cause of an admitted problem and the remedy being made. I presume Peterborough Trading Standards will have this information to allow them to approve Whirlpool’s remedial plan. I would also hope Which? has this information. Perhaps they will tell us.

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A list of recalls, which also exists in the EU, is only a part of the problem, Who regularly checks it, or even knows the details of all their household and other products that could possibly be affected? I’d wager 1/- very few. The key is ensuring we know the contact details of who has bought what, so when a problem arises they can be directly contacted. That is my view, and the sooner we have registration by default at the place of purchase the better we will be able to deal with the vast majority of faulty products.

Duncan – The EC Rapex system provides comprehensive information about product recalls: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumers_safety/safety_products/rapex/alerts/main/?event=main.search

I used to use RecallUK until the charity folded because of lack of funding and now I use Electrical Safety First. They updated a page about Crompton LED lamps promptly when I pointed out that they had omitted some of the recalled types. Their email service has notified me of a problem with an e.on smart meter display charger and a Martindale socket tester.

I believe that the consumer should be in charge of their list of products, entering items on an official website, deleting them if discarded or sold. It also means that manufacturers or retailers don’t need to be informed when someone moves house, as I did last year. All I would need to do is update my contact details online. If there is a recall affecting a product then everyone who has registered ownership then they can be notified without delay. If some people want to give their contact details to manufacturers, retailers or trade bodies they are welcome, but I most certainly do not. There is far too much misuse of contact details already.

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A successful recall can only be achieved by compulsory registration, not leaving it to individuals to remember to do it. As in some cases the safety of others is involved this seems the only responsible way of dealing with it.

Thanks Duncan. I’m coming round to your view that the US does some things better than we do.

Malcolm – I support compulsory registration but not if it is managed by companies or a trade body. You are promoting compulsory registration because individuals cannot be relied on to do it. I want to see interlocks on tumble dryers because individuals cannot be relied on to clean the filter. Lets have both. 🙂

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Despite date of first registration (November 20015) of faulty Hotpoint Tumble Dryer, have had one email promising a repair, nothing has been done.
Whirlpool has stated they will be keeping those affected by “their” faulty goods up to date?
Has anyone been kept updated by them?
I have not.
When is the Government going to intervene, and ask whirlpool to get their act together.