/ Home & Energy

Why are we still waiting for Whirlpool to sort this mess out?

burnt tumble dryer

It’s nearly a year on since the news broke that some Whirlpool dryers are at risk of catching fire. So how much longer will you have to wait for Whirlpool to replace a fire risk tumble dryer in your home?

In November last year, Whirlpool announced many of the 5.3 million Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers sold were at risk of catching fire. You’d think Whirlpool would act faster to make sure unsafe products we fixed or replaced.

Our research revealed multiple failings by Whirlpool in dealing with their customers, leaving people feeling they’ve been failed – more than half of the affected customers we surveyed felt dissatisfied with the way Whirlpool handled this situation.

Fire risk dryers

So far, we’ve heard from hundreds of you on Which? Conversation who told us about how little is being done to fix your unsafe machine. Some of you have found an agreeable resolution with Whirlpool. But the fact remains that far too many are living with unsafe tumble dryers.

People like John Wood. John returned home from work to find his house on fire. The fire, caused by a faulty Hotpoint dryer, destroyed his kitchen and sadly his dog later died of smoke inhalation.

John’s insurance company refused to pay out because the tumble dryer was left on unattended and therefore against manufacturer instructions. Understandably, John feels very strongly that not enough is being done to highlight tumble dryer faults.

Further to this, another fire sparked in an 18 storey tower block in west London was caused by a faulty tumble dryer, an investigation published last week by London Fire Brigade found.

In light of the London Fire Brigade’s recent investigation, if you have an affected tumble dryer, our advice is to stop using it until it has been repaired or replaced. If you’re not sure this includes your dryer, all the affected models we know about are here: www.which.co.uk/productrecall

Time for action

We’ve been pushing for action from Whirlpool. Back in May, we asked Whirlpool to train its call centre staff to offer better advice to affected customers and speed up the process for registration. We’re still waiting for Whirlpool to publish a full list of model numbers of the 127 affected products on the front page of their website.

Whirlpool needs to be held to account for how it’s treating its customers. We want the government to urgently review the Whirlpool case and set out how it’s going to improve the product safety system for all consumers.

Tell us, are you still waiting for Whirlpool to sort your tumble dryer out? Do you think it’s time Whirlpool issued you a refund?

Pete Moorey, Head of Campaigns at Which?, appeared on BBC One’s Rip Off Britain this morning to talk about Whirlpool, the programme will be available to view on the BBC iPlayer later today.

Comments

Thanks for the update, Jen. I look forward to seeing the TV coverage you have mentioned.

In my view it is unacceptable that large companies including Whirlpool and the VW Group are failing their customers. It is good that Which? is pushing the government for action.

I am concerned that even if the affected tumble dryers are modified or replaced, there is still a problem. Vented and condenser tumble dryers have a powerful electric heater and unless the filter is cleaned routinely as specified in the instructions, lint can build up and can start a fire if it comes in contact with the heater. I have been aware of the problem for about 30 years. My view is that the industry should be moving to heat pump dryers, which do not contain a heater operating at high temperature, making them inherently safer.

I question why vented and condenser dryers are not fitted with an interlock to prevent them being started until the filter has been cleaned. For years, front loading washing machines have had interlocks to prevent the door being opened when the machine is in use.

This incident needs to be dated:
” People like John Wood. John returned home from work to find his house on fire. The fire, caused by a faulty Hotpoint dryer, destroyed his kitchen and sadly his dog later died of smoke inhalation.
John’s insurance company refused to pay out because the tumble dryer was left on unattended and therefore against manufacturer instructions.”

My opinion is that this is an unfair condition if it is generic, it is also unfair if JW had not been aware of the requirement. Essentially this is a matter of more importance than a throw away example. It would also help if Which? named the insurance company. I cannot see any reason why not.

Have Which? surveyed other insurance companies to see if this an industry decision or a single company.?

The incident was in January, Diesel. http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/dad-blames-faulty-dryer-for-blaze-that-killed-pet-dog-and-gutted-leigh-park-home-1-7170322 Unfortunately, Which? does not even date some of the articles on it’s website, despite requests for this to be done. 🙁

Details of recalls are available on the EC Rapex website, where there is a searchable database as well as weekly notifications: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/consumers_safety/safety_products/rapex/alerts/main/?event=main.listNotifications If consumers had the opportunity to register their purchases on a government database linked to the Rapex information, they could be notified promptly of recalls. If we leave it up to manufacturers to notify us of recalls there is the risk that our contact details will be used for marketing, one of the reasons that many don’t register their purchases.

Thanks for supplying the detail wavechange.

The areas of interest I outlined still remain regarding industry practice . To that we might add what is adequate public notice that the insurance company uses to decide whether a claim can be refused. A notice in the Times?

Out of curiosity I looked at old Which? reviews on dryers to see if this design weakness was noted. Apparently not and this may be partly due to the lack of durability testing or a decision not to dismantle looking for design flaws.
which.co.uk/reviews/tumble-dryers/indesit-idv75s-silver/review

A contender at this price 65%
Launched 07 September 2014
Tested 02 July 2013

I wonder what Stifung Warentest made of these dryers.

I have not had any time to devote to this other than a quick glance what is freely vavialable at Test.de. It seems they also have problems but fortunately people can write to a general thread and this one and lint build-up caught my eye. Given badge engineering it may be sold in the UK …
“testo1966 wrote on 03.10.2016 at 10:10 PM:
No individual cases, but a design error!
Our Siemens tumble dryer, the fall of 2011, pending acquired after almost exactly 3 years suddenly last the water drawer is empty even though it was empty. (A friend who has the same device, had already warned us). The technicians of Siemens disassembled everything and explained the Problem: In a floor pan of the device (“swamp”) collects the condensation water and from there it is pumped out. And there is also a Stop-Sensor, in case the water rises too high. The only Problem is that in the “swamp” is also a Laundry lint, and he is eventually so full that the Sensor is triggered and the Dry is stopped. Only solution: dryer is completely disassembled, take a “swamp” clean and build it again. Our technicians left no doubt that it is a design flaw and a problem. The repair are reduced to 200 Euro, goodwill of Siemens costs. But now, 2 years on, the dryer time of year again!
(8)(0)

In the earlier days of Which? Convo, a service engineer posted a comment that some models of tumble dryer can accumulate lint even if the filter was cleaned regularly. This might be due to the design or fabric conditioner making lint stick to internal components.

I don’t believe that Which? tests routinely look for internal design faults in products but would be happy to learn otherwise.

I’m very glad to have an airing cupboard to do the drying.

Which? need to get some expertise by doing what you say – dismantling products to look at the quality, or otherwise, and undertaking research on durability to help consumer law to be more easily applied. Outsourcing testing has hindered this. I would like to see more attention paid to the quality and durability of products so we can assess their real cost to us, not only running costs.

Outsourcing of testing may be a better approach if conducted by labs that have specialist equipment and expertise. I believe that it would be worth looking at the safety of tumble dryers and would rather that this was done by an organisation with experience in fire hazards and other common problems with household appliances. Outsourcing testing is, I believe, an inevitable consequence of the wide variety of household products on sale now, compared with twenty or thirty years ago.

There is more to “testing” than just measuring performance and ease of use. We need to know about quality, whether a product is likely to last, and whether it is sensibly repairable for example.

Which? should also ask through its product surveys for more specific information from consumers to get a better idea on faults, durability, cost of repair and such. If Which? personnel have more direct involvement in product evaluation and testing, and understand them better, they are more likely to be able to put the right questions to consumers, and provide better assessments.

Product value for money depends upon a number of factors but one is durability versus cost (purchase price plus any repairs in its life). A £300 washing machine may initially seem “good value”, but may last 3 years – £100 a year. A £500 machine looks more expensive but if it lasts 6+ years is, for most, better value. And if it can be economically repaired, then even better.

The German Consumers’ Association tests washing machines for durability. A shame we don’t buy their results and publish them.

I’m keen on durability too, but I think the best approach is to push for longer guarantees and warranties. If the company has to pay for repairs they are less likely to produce shoddy goods.

This Conversation is about Whirlpool and its behaviour, so it would be best to keep on topic.

Hi Patrick,
We have a Siemens condensing dryer model WT48Y800GB/04, about 3 years old. Do you have the same model?

I have noticed it holds water somewhere other than the drawer presumably for when I think it says “the heat exchanger is being rinsed”. You have me wondering whether to expect some problems with the dryer. It has been fine so far.

Our routine is to empty the drawer and clean the drawer filter at the end of a cycle then empty the front lint collector before the start of a cycle when it might also go under the shower for further cleaning.

I don’t have any particular concerns about Which?’s appliance testing being done by external testing houses [given that it has, rightly in my opinion, closed its own establishment]. But any testing must be carried out by a testing house that is completely conversant with the appliances under test and their entire technology, the general requirements affecting all such appliances, the needs and reasonable expectations of consumers, and current developments in design, manufacture, and functionality within the industry. The testing house also needs to be professionally and expertly assessed for its competency in undertaking the specific testing, the techniques and testing apparatus it will use for the purpose, the qualifications and competence of its personnel, and its testing analysis and reporting capabilities. Over and above all that the tests specification supplied by Which? once the testing house has been selected needs to be very thorough covering the conformity of the product to all relevant standards, the duration of test runs and the stresses that will be applied, the number of items of each type to be tested, the reporting standards, the identification of any positive or negative features likely to be significant to an owner, and so far as practicable an expert opinion on the design, manufacturing quality, quality of materials, and durability of the product. It must be left to Which? to judge the value for money of each product based on the test reports so it should either employ directly or engage as consultants people with the necessary technical expertise to turn the test reports into useful consumer information and recommendations. Sounds elementary, but who checks that this is the way it is being done?

It would not surprise me if the number of suitable testing establishments was fairly limited which reinforces the point about international cooperation and joint test sponsorship with other equivalent consumer bodies in the markets where fundamentally the same products are sold. I would advocate, in the interests of transparency, that the name or at least the country of origin of the testing house used for each product is stated in the consumer reports. As the manufacture of the primary household appliances increasingly consolidates the economics of testing should improve.

A form of consumer reporting that I would like to see trialled is, once the ‘Best Buy’ in any category has been determined, for that to be used as a benchmark against which all the other products in the same test programme can be compared. I appreciate that the scores shown in current comparison tables are a form of this but the products are being assessed against an unknown standard rather than against an actual appliance. In other words, if the testing and VFM assessment demonstrates that Product A is the best buy, then it would be useful to know how Product B and Product C compared directly – what they didn’t have or do that ‘A’ had or could do; it could also identify features of ‘B’ and ‘C’ that were absent in ‘A’. We probably all attempt to do this when deciding which fridge or washing machine to buy [once we’ve considered the appearance characteristics] but it would be useful to have some expert help from Which?.

wavechange –
Surely the role of consumer testing bodies is to weed out the Whirlpool’s of the world? It is a little unfair to s**g Whirlpool who have been bitten badly by acquiring these brands.

Another point relevant to the laundry room and dealing with appliances that concerns me and you – I hope this claim will be examined.

“Hygienically clean Laundry even at low temperatures: the Hygiene program.
The Hygiene program is particularly suitable for delicate fabrics that cannot be washed at high temperatures. Thanks to the active oxygen, the Laundry will be hygienically clean, even at temperatures up to 40 °C.”

The point I have made elsewhere is to ask Which? whether they have checked if the faulty Indesit driers meet the flammability requirement of the safety standard. There is a test specified to check. If they do, we need to consider whether the safety standard needs amending. If they don’t, there is a serious issue to address. That is why proper testing and scrutiny is important – for Whirlpool products and anyone else’s. Had they done their own testing they might know the answer. If they had their own facilities they could soon check. Alternatively they can commission one of the outside laboratories to check. I would like to know.

I have some sympathy for the situation Whirlpool find themselves in. They have inherited the tumble drier problem. Whether they did not do sufficient due diligence, or whether they were misled when they bought Indesit is a question to ask. But the sheer logistics of dealing with millions of potentially faulty driers that requires skilled labour visiting premises is daunting. As would be finding the supply of millions of replacement driers. Perhaps someone has a plan to deal with this?

I criticise the arrangement that Peterborough Trading Standards agreed to because it seems to ignore the consumer. They must wait months, a year or more maybe, without a safe drier. Peterborough TS should have thought of how to deal with this, even if only by way of compensation for the great inconvenience the programme they agreed to would cause.

The subject of leaving electrical appliances unattended is a minefield…if you have the fire brigade do a free safety check on your property they will do a good job on smoke and CO alarms etc. and give great advice on electrical safety which includes never leaving appliances running or even plugged in to live sockets when unattended. They particularly don’t like TV sets left on standby overnight. When I asked about the fridge, freezer,boiler, telephone etc. The fireman said um….
I think the best we can do is ensure that we have the latest type of fuse box fitted with sensitive circuit breakers which I believe take care of most problems.

Rob – A modern consumer unit has various advantages over old fashioned fuses. If a circuit is overloaded, the power will be turned off more quickly with a circuit breaker than a fuse and they do reduce (but not eliminate) the risk of electrocution. If there is a fire in a tumble dryer because lint comes in contact with the heater, that is not going to switch off the power – until the insulation on the internal wiring has burned away and it short circuits, by which time it will be far too late.

I agree that the standard advice from fire services is not very good. I remain to be convinced that there is a benefit in unplugging electrical items rather than switching them off at the socket, though doing so can avoid damage in the even of a large voltage spike, for example due to a lightning strike. As you point out, there are some items that need to stay on, but the advice not to run washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers overnight is very sound in my view.

Patrick Taylor – I’m happy to discuss durability testing and washing machine temperatures on the appropriate Convos but would like to keep this one focused on the tumble dryer problem. Apologies for using your old username in an earlier post.

It is unsurprising when interesting items are interjected that are off topic, as in any conversation, when answers to the subject in hand are not forthcoming.

Durability is of considerable relevance here, both in respect of the self-destruction of Indesit et al dryers and of their surroundings. I would like to see a proper examination or explanation of exactly how and why these defective dryers fail in the way they do, and whether it was simply a design fault or a failure to meet existing safety requirements. Sorry, as an engineer, to boringly keep asking for information, but as opposed to continued criticism information gives a positive way forward. 🙂

Patrick, I agree Which? should make us aware those products that, or manufacturers who, are consistently poor so consumers are buying with their eyes open. I wonder whether a UV light source could be incorporated in a tumble drier to sanitise those fabrics that cannot be washed at a high enough temperature?

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A good design team is a mix of engineers, stylists, innovators etc. with a full appreciation of costs and budgets. Part of my working life was spent in a design, development and test environment where the success of a product was taken very seriously – both in its “saleability” and its ability to meet the necessary criteria, including function and safety. Safety is governed by international standards against which products need to be independently tested before putting on the market, and manufacturing quality subsequently subjected to independent auditing. So it is in no financially responsible company’s interests to introduce deliberately an unsafe product. My experience was that If it could not meet the company’s requirements the project was discontinued.

This does not preclude mistakes being made, as occasionally happens (Samsung probably) and a misguided deceitful company trying to find a back door way into a market (VW and the USA for example). but these are rare as the consequences are clear. Both Samsung and VW will have lost a lot of money and reputation for very different reasons.

As far as Whirlpool is concerned (before I am accused of going off topic) I simply want the construction of these defective Indesit (and allied branded) dryers examined so we can learn from them. I doubt they failed existing safety standards, and would be disappointed if proved wrong. But clearly there is something to be gleaned from their failure – whether an amendment to the safety standard, improvement in material selection, safety devices to add to the machine or whatever. In my view the positive approach is learning and improving.

I also have some sympathy for Whirlpool’s predicament and initially the company probably could not believe the scale of the problem they had inherited through the acquisition of the Indesit, Hotpoint and Creda brands, let alone understand how to deal with it. There is not an idle workforce of domestic appliance technicians standing by to carry out millions of modifications [while the total number of machines under those brand names has been given as 5.3 million the actual number of machines to be repaired or replaced has not been reported – it will be a huge number whatever it is].

I do think, however, that one way forward to reduce the scale of the problem would be to pay-off all the owners of the oldest machines on production of a certificate of disposal. Still an administrative mountain to climb and not fool-proof – what about the owners who refuse to do anything? or those for whom there are no contact details?

The next objective would be to replace machines that are beyond economical repair and Whirlpool appear to making some progress here but it depends on the owner taking up their offer. Ideally they should have been increasing production, if necessary to the exclusion of new orders, in order to complete the replacement programme as quickly as possible. I would understand a reluctance to offer other manufacturers’ appliances as replacements but, with Winter on its way and no chance of drying the washing outside, this is an emergency and needs an emergency response.

Finally, repairing those tumble dryers for which it is relatively simple and economical is probably the biggest logistical hurdle. I doubt that owners would be keen to accept the substitution of their own machine by another one that had been repaired and reconditioned but that might be a sensible way forward. It would mean that the time-consuming house calls would be in the hands of delivery drivers not qualified technicians and the actual modification work could be undertaken by the technicians in a workshop environment that would both save valuable technical time and make it more likely that the right parts were available.

I doubt if this problem is confined to the UK so the ability of Whirlpool’s continental resources to assist with our problem is probably severely limited.

I cannot help harbouring the suspicion that Indesit knew they were selling Whirlpool a ticking time-bomb, but how they were able to prevent Whirlpool from finding out, or whether Whirlpool just failed to look under the hood, remains to be seen. I suspect Whirlpool sacrificed everything in order to acquire a massive slice of market share.

I agree with Malcolm’s points above but I would say that other manufacturers’ tumble dryers [possibly including Whirlpool’s own models] do not seem to be prone to catching fire so a technical solution for future production should not be too difficult to achieve. It remains vital to ascertain all possible causes of the faults in the Indesit, Creda, Hotpoint, etc, machines, however, to see if there are any further lessons to be learnt and have any technical specifications and relevant standards amended as necessary, notwithstanding the absence of known fire risks in other tumble dryers.

I question why Peterborough Trading Standards have agreed to Whirlpool’s (lack of) action plan, and why they did not consider compensating customers who wait an unreasonably long time for a remedy.

I also question whether any of the “defective” machines have been tested independently against the International Safety Standard to see whether they comply with its “flammability” requirement (this requires parts of the machine close to the heating element not to support a fire).

We need to see whether the defect in Indesit design could warrant a modification to the safety standard. Who is investigating this?

We have plenty of conventional tumble driers that work safely without the need to go to expensive heat pump machines that most people cannot afford. Incidentally one potential cause of fire is if hot clothes are left in a machine which is switched off too early. This could affect all machines.

I expect that heat pump dryers would become cheaper when manufactured in greater numbers and there was more competition. I don’t think they will cause a fire if stopped before the cycle has completed because there is no powerful electric heater.

Back in the 1950s, electric fires had live ‘elements’ that could easily be touched by an inquisitive child. In the 1960s, silica-sheathed elements were introduced to remove this danger. I think we should move on and make tumble dryers safer.

I have an Indesit tumble dryer which is 3.5 years old and is one of the affected machines with a drop down filter. Recently prompted by Which I checked to see if it was one and found that it was so. I proceeded to register for a repair and found that there were two options available. I went onto the offered online chat and opted for a replacement machine of a slightly higher specification to be delivered on Thursday 20th October. For a fee of £59 the new machine will be installed for me and the old machine will be removed for recycling free of charge. I think that this is a pretty good deal and hope that the promised equipment arrives on time and that there are no hitches. Watch this space.

Fingers-crossed then! : )

On Friday 21st I will return to the thread ….

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It’t the same with compensation for owners of VW Group cars affected by the emissions issue.

Obviously a country with 200 million households has a lot more clout than one with 22 million. Nevertheless, it is a tragedy that we have virtually given up on official consumer protection in the UK. The parliamentary select committee allowed itself to be sweet-talked into a supine attitude by the Whirlpool chiefs and Peterborough Trading Standards is ill-equipped to take on a global corporation, so instead of going for effective remediation and compensation it has settled for a ‘we’ll do it in our own time’ response from the company and now is compromised through acceptance of that stance [or inaction plan] from ramping up the enforcement.

I thought one of the things that people are de facto insuring against is not being aware of the latest manufacturer recommendations. If ever there was dodgy get-out clause it is that one and I support Patrick Taylor’s pursuit of more and better information.

I know too well from personal experience that it is much more difficult than people realise to put together an informative article against time and word-count constraints and still leave a little life in the language. Re-phrasing and further editing are usually required, so I understand how Which?’s pieces can suffer in the production process, especially if they have to go through several hands. This is not a criticism because the content is good, but unfortunately there are a number of typographical and compositional errors in the introductory article which means you have to read certain sections twice to pick up the correct meaning. I won’t list them all but I stumbled over the sentence : “People like John Wood“. I am sure people do like Mr Wood, but in the context of a new paragraph it would have been better to say : “People such as John Wood“. For half a moment, and for the want of just a comma, I also thought his dog was named “Sadly”.

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Comment duplicated automatically. It seems to happen from time to time but I know not why.

I probably don’t get out enough, Duncan.

In our family the popular TV ballroom programme is known as “Sadly Come Dancing”.

I doubt that Sadly will Come Dancing any more after the likeable Mr John Wood’s loss, John 🙂 🙂

I doubt that Sadly will Come Dancing any more after the likeable Mr John Wood’s loss, John 🙂

I doubt that Sadly will Come Dancing any more after the likeable Mr John Wood’s loss, John 🙂 🙂

Can’t see a way of deleting comments. Edit and delete does not work (for me). How did yours go John?

Very odd, these apparently random duplications.

I couldn’t delete the box containing the duplicated comment, Malcolm, so – as an editing function – I just substituted the “Comment duplicated automatically” text instead in one of the boxes. In the above example I made the amendment in the wrong box so they are out of sequence! [Oh no! – not more dancing analogies].

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I can’t explain it, Duncan, but sometimes I have realised that a comment I had written has not appeared. That has happened twice over the last day or two. I have convinced myself that perhaps I had neglected to click on the ‘Post Comment’ button having been distracted by another comment on the page and then clicked the back button to leave the page and go back to the ‘Latest Comments’ list. However, there are quite a number of technical glitches with the website so there could be other possibilities.

I’ve just posted three times in Lauren’s new topic on shrinking chocs, and the behaviour of the screen after posting was very odd. It actually zoomed in for a moment, before sorting itself out, but I suspect something underlying is proving troublesome.

One of Duncan’s posts took 7 minutes to appear the other day. I reported it and they are looking into what is going on.

The posts seem to turn up eventually though.

Perhaps we could explore what could be done to make tumble dryers and other large appliances less likely to cause a house fire. In my view, the casing and door should be metal rather than plastic. In a more or less sealed metal box, air is excluded so that even if there is a small fire, it will be contained. Here is an image of a fire-damaged tumble dryer which has presumably had a plastic control panel that has burned away.

There are plenty of similar examples online. If there was a steel panel behind the controls, this would contain the fire. Doors sometimes survive fires but a metal door would be the next step in improving fire resistance.

I am really disappointed by the use of plastics in products such as kettles and fan heaters containing powerful electric heaters. I have two metal-cased Belling fan heaters dating from the early 80s, which I keep in case the central heating fails.

I agree with using metal instead of plastic for tumble dryer casings and doors. My unscientific brain tells me that initially metal would expand to seal the joints between panels and deprive the fire of oxygen. The joints would fail through distortion or explode in due course I suppose but it might gain a precious minute or two in which to deal with the fire. Every place with a tumble dryer should also have a smoke alarm but I have seen them under the stairs and in toilets or bathrooms where there is no such protection.

I would think that metal parts would also improve the durability rating for tumble dryers.

Many products are full of plastics and have been for a long time – your car included. Thermoplastics are made with additives so they do not support a fire in appropriate applications . Those used in the Indesit driers, if in the vicinity of the heater, should have been of this type. Other plastics – thermosets – not only do not support combustion but deform much less than thermoplastics when subject to higher temperatures. It is choosing the right material for the job, which is partly why we have safety standards.

I hope that the relevant British Standards committee CPL/61 will, among others (including Whirlpool) be looking at how to improve on, or avoid, the problems created in this Indesit design. I too have questioned how much Indesit knew about this problem and kept concealed before Whirlpool took them over.

Malcolm – Burning of the plastic control panel of tumble dryers and washing machine seems to be a common feature of appliance fires, from what I have seen from photos posted online. Once the integrity of the casing is lost, flames can emerge and the fire can spread. The photo I posted shows how well the steel casing has survived in a severe fire, whereas the control panel and door have gone. If I was designing these appliances, the metal casing would be continued behind the control panel and the ribbon cable connecting it to the internal components would go through a small duct containing an intumescent seal. A steel or stainless steel door would afford further protection and put an end to the problem of door glass failure.

I inherited a Bosch dishwasher when I moved home. The first thing I did was to check that it was not one of the ones that had been recalled because of a fire risk. It was not, but the entire top of the casing appears to be made of plastic. The best I could do was to put a sheet of heavy aluminium sheet between the top of the dishwasher and the worktop. I use it only when I’m nearby and would not dream of using the delay start feature on this or any other household appliance.

I appreciate that cars make extensive use of plastic but they are attended when in use, whereas a fire can start in a household appliance when there is no-one in the room. Fridges and freezers have the compressor in a steel casing, so that if that fails there is very little risk of fire. We discussed Samsung fridge-freezers in another Convo. The fires were caused by a fault in the defrost timer, which was in a plastic rather than metal case. Just because plastics have come into widespread use, that does not make them better. We can certainly agree that the introduction of products that are difficult or expensive to repair has not been a good development.

I do not see much chance of containing a fire in a vented tumble dryer because the plastic and aluminium ducts burn away where heat and flames emerge from the machine, blown by a fan. Furthermore, the inside of the ducting can have a coating of flammable lint. I learned a lot from a link provided by Duncan or DeeKay in an earlier discussion.

I believe that all mains-powered household goods, particularly white goods, should pass a test for fire containment.

I share your concern that Whirlpool may have known about the problem, though have yet to see evidence. I wonder how long Bosch knew about the fire risk in 600k dishwashers manufactured over a seven year period before issuing a recall.

wavechange, as I have said before if there are constructive proposals based on fact that could improve the safety of household appliances then these should be made known to those who write and amend standards, the BSI Committee I mentioned above. If Which? investigated these issues as the consumer representative they should be one of the parties “with influence” doing this.

Safety can never be 100% guaranteed. Driers can be overloaded, switched off mid-cycle, not cleaned. I don’t think we need the expensive heat-pump as the only solution; we could use lower temperature heating elements but would have to be prepared for considerably longer drying times.

Car fires can start when they are unoccupied – a fuel leak and/or a short circuit for example.

According to a recent Telegraph article, this tumble dryer was supplied to a Mr & Mrs Thompson. It does not have the stickers indicating that it has been modified to correct the problem.

It looks as if the entire front of the machine may be plastic, though hopefully there is metal behind. The number of photos of tumble dryers with non-metal components that have been severely damaged in fires leaves me with little doubt that use of plastic in casings (rather than metal) compromises the ability of appliances to control spread of a fire. We cannot eliminate the possibility of overheating and fire in appliances but I feel that it is essential to use metal cases to contain a small fire, both by excluding oxygen and not burning away. It would be OK to mount the controls outside the metal case because they the low voltages and currents needed would be insufficient to pose any significant risk.

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The problem of faulty imported goods taking too long to be either repaired or replaced appears to be on the increase of late, first with VW, then Whirlpool and more recently Samsungs exploding Note 7 smartphone batteries catching fire, with promises of replacements “within the next few weeks”.

The new Brexit Trade Deals should include legislation that ensures all imported goods arriving in the UK come with back up assurances from manufacturers, (excluding retailers from total liability in certain circumstances) that all faulty goods will be fixed within an allocated timescale, under terms and conditions stipulated in their guarantee or warranty period. Which? has a very important role to play here and should be engaging at governmental level to protect all British consumers from the sort of fiasco experienced by John Wood et al.

It’s imperative that negotiations start as soon as possible as the whole Brexit trade legislative procedure is forecast to be both a long and complex procedure.

I very much hope that our departure from the EU will be used to lay down our own terms to deal with the likes of Whirlpool and VW, which have behaved shamefully.

As far as I am aware the way we deal with businesses is down to our government now anyway, not the EU. It is stated by HMG that they have responsibility for dealing with VW – once the details are known. It is down to UK Trading Standards to deal with Whirlpool.

At a time of major changes, this might be a good opportunity for major changes. In recent years, there have been increasing demands on Trading Standards, partly thanks to substandard and counterfeit goods coming into the country, yet successive governments have not devoted more resources to tackling this problem. Getting tough with companies that behave irresponsibly would help their competitors.

Manufacturers have hidden behind the veil of their retailers far too long. It is time their complacency and reluctance to recompense consumers in a reasonable duration was addressed. Contacting Trading Standards after the event is akin to closing the gate after the proverbial horse has bolted.

Legislation needs to be modified so that the fault produced at source is corrected in a given timescale, applicable in particular to all large scale foreign mass producers exporting into this country. Failure to comply would then result in a fine being imposed upon the manufacturer as a means of compensation for their long suffering victims and perhaps, more importantly, this would also serve as a possible deterrent for the future.

Evidently our government is not doing enough to protect consumers from the exploitation of foreign companies and early Brexit negotiations are essential, in order to make it quite clear to them that UK consumers are no longer prepared to tolerate this injustice.

Many manufacturers are overseas so imposing retribution on them from here would be difficult. The retailer chooses to deal with these manufacturers, or their distributors, and should have contracts in place to protect themselves against defective or faulty goods. Far easier for a retailer to deal with than individuals. And far easier for an individual to deal with a retailer.

Trading Standards needs funding properly to make it work. If it did a lot of consumer problems would be sorted. Which? could make this one of its “priorities”.

Retribution speaks of negativity, is counter productive and was the very last thing I had in mind.

Retailers “choices” can be over-ridden legislatively in the interests of UK consumers as a whole. All the evidence demonstrates that consumers are getting a raw deal when faced with manufacturing defects, which is exactly the reason why are we engaging in a debate about people’s machines catching fire, and VW owners still relying on manufacturers promises months after discovering their vehicles have been rigged with cheating devices.

The reality is, the present system is not working and much more needs to be done to protect the consumer, not the manufacturer, (who should take some responsibility) from producing defective and unsafe products and expect everyone else to suffer the consequences.

Old habits tend to die hard for some, but changes are coming, hopefully for the better, so let’s keep this topic on a more positive footing and focus on future improvements to protect consumers, some of which have been, and are still affected by the complacency and injustice of large scale manufacturers.

Beryl, I used “retribution” rather casually to represent redress to customers – financial, repair, replacement or compensation – and penalties that may be imposed by authorities, particularly for non-compliance with consumer law.

As regards positivity i have generally posted comments I believe to be helpful to both consumers and those looking after consumer interests. Complaining about a situation is helped if. at the same time, improvements can be put forward.

We have consumer law. What is needed is encouragement and data for us to use it properly. Which? can help more than it does, I believe. I had a recent experience where explaining SoGA appeared to work, and both retailer and manufacturer were responsive and gave me more than I was asking.

Beryl – I think it is very hard to legislate for every eventuality. The scale of the Indesit, Creda, Hotpoint tumble dryer problem is unprecedented, and in terms of its seriousness it outranks the VW defeat/deceit device in my opinion. However, both cases have exposed the total inadequacy of our consumer protection services in being able to uphold and enforce the law. The authorised terminology of “Trading Standards” shows that it is more about weights &measures and box-ticking nowadays than full-scale consumer protection including dealing with manufacturers and retailers of dangerous products.

Which? has scored a notable success with, at last, bringing Amazon and E-Bay to heel over their marketing of dangerous carbon monoxide alarms and highlighted the shameful way in which they have harboured rogue suppliers in their unregulated market places under their respective trading umbrellas. Now these mega-businesses bleat that customer safety is their prime concern. Oh, really! – Not from where I am looking it isn’t: making money remains the No. 1 aim. And that only deals with one product category, and there is no evidence yet that either company will do as Which? has asked and notify every purchaser of an illegal and unsafe product for a refund or replacement. But my point is that this should have been picked up and acted upon by Trading Standards, as well as all the other products that have been reported through Which? Conversation from two-pin plugs to expandable hose-pipes.

I support Malcolm’s call for an effective trading standards/consumer protection service to be one of Which?’s priorities. I would go further and say it should be its only priority.

John, procrastination on the part of Trading Standards has proven to be an ineffective and unproductive means of consumer protection and its high time it was replaced with a more cogent and credible organisation that puts the interests of consumers who have been unfairly treated central to its considerations.

Brexit must restructure and innovate if it is to succeed. Familiarity and outdated methodology has to go if we are to keep abreast with the rest of the world and the appointment of a minister to protect the interests of UK consumers will provide an opportunity for consumer bodies such as Which? to liaise with government representatives, keeping them up to date with consumer affairs and concerns.

To sit back and do nothing in the faint hope that things will change is complacent and unproductive and puts the country and its people in danger of exploitation from large global conglomerates. Action speaks louder than words and action is what is needed now to give this country back
its independence once again.

All that is wrong with Trading Standards is that it is very underfunded and is therefore restricted in what it can do. The structure was fine; give it the resources and it will once again be better placed to do a job for us. But, whatever we do, don’t outsource it! If Which? want to improve the consumers’ lot, they’d do well to campaign for Trading Standards to be properly resourced, and to get a Consumers’ Minister as a high profile full time job.

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If we can’t afford it scrap it and replace it with something that’s affordable and effective.

Change is painful but we have to put the interests of the country’s consumers ahead of old habits if we are to make progress, as it is they whose contribution we rely on to provide the revenue necessary to reinstate the country’s prominence on the world stage again, the alternative being we get left behind and are downgraded to third world status.

Speaking of change, the Convo Halloween witches have arrived early and taken off with my tea ceremony lady and replaced her with an uninteresting blue and white sphere. They have also disconnected my automatic link so I may disappear for a while 🙁

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Hear! Hear! Beryl.

@jbamforth, Which?’s abbreviated policy says “The Which? mission is to make individuals as powerful as the organisations they have to deal with in their daily lives.”
Can you tell us why Which?, after this problem has been with us for a year, has still not been able to improve matters for the owners of defective tumble driers in all that time?

@jbamforth Thanks

Just as an observation. I posted this previously:
” which.co.uk/reviews/tumble-dryers/indesit-idv75s-silver/review
A contender at this price 65%
Launched 07 September 2014
Tested 02 July 2013″

I was curious as I routinely spot the apparent time travel miracle of it being tested before it was released in the UK. Now is it that a testing house has already tested for another consumer body in another country? Or has Which? transposed the dates?

I have to own that I am a person who notices things like that. I have pointed out similar instances to Which? many months ago.

For some years Which? was displaying “6mm” diagonal screen measurements for e-readers. Which? , to my great disgust, was and is refusing to tell subscribers that 9.7″ diagonal sceen e-readers exist so I found this doubly galling. For those with poorer eysight and those who read quickly or double columned .pdf documents a great boon.

Wavechange will no doubt feel this be posted on a different thread ! : )

However I have posted primarily because nobody picked up on the anomaly. There is a tendency to believe whatever is in print is checked and regrettably I think standards have slipped.

I do wonder if Which? selection procedures weed out the geeks and slightly obsessives who naturally would be aware of these things.

I’m one of the many who are waiting for my Hotpoint tumble dryer to be modified. I have been offered a replacement, but not free, and a far inferior model to the one I chose (with the help of Which?). Needless to say, I declined.
Every few months, I receive an email thanking me for registering my machine and apologising for the delay. It then gives a link which it says will tell me the date I can expect a repair. In fact, all it says is that the date has passed (I think it originally said March).
I can’t stop using the machine, I need to get our clothes dry; I’m not prepared to scrap the dryer and go out and buy a new one. So I carefully clean the filter after each use and don’t leave it unattended, as Whirlpool advises.
I’m VERY unhappy about the situation, and I do wonder about my insurance if a fire should occur. Do we know the frequency of tumble dryer fires since the problem was discovered?

If I was in your position, Alyson, I would have written to the company and given them a deadline to deal with the problem. If they failed to deliver, I would have arranged an engineer to carry out the work (if one was prepared to do this and had the necessary parts) or bought a replacement, and then sent in the bill.

The worst that could happen is that I would have to foot the bill and store the dryer in case the company was prepared to pay if they could collect the old machine.

People have lost their homes as a result of fires caused by tumble dryers and the government has not intervened to put an end to this problem. I hope you find a solution soon.

Trading Standards has “intervened” by agreeing to Whirlpool’s programme. The Government (BIS Committee) has written once again to Whirlpool questioning their progress, but teeth seem to be absent.

i wold not recommend an unauthorised repair – I doubt they have access to the parts necessary and it could well invalidate your house insurance.

I see great difficulty, whether we like it or not, in Whirlpool finding sufficient people to visit the, possibly, millions of machines that need modification. I would have thought it more sensible to have simply removed potentially defective tumble driers and replaced them with a fully refurbished one, if suffucient new ones were not available. Many may find that acceptable rather than waiting a year for a repair.

I stand by what I said: ‘the government has not intervened to put an end to this problem.’

You might be right about insurers but maybe they might be rather more concerned if a householder had a fire after taking Whirlpool’s advice and carried on using their tumble dryer without leaving it unattended.

I would like an independent risk assessment to establish whether it is sensible to carry on using a tumble dryer affected by the fire risk.

Alyson’s point about the frequency of fires now the problem has been aired would and should be interesting. In terms of number of fires to number of machines it has always been low but because of their ubiquity it still mounts up.

What can be safely said is that there will presumably be potentially higher risk levels where English is not a first language and where people may be leasing a property.

Multiple occupancy dwellings where responsibility for cleaning the lint may not occcur would be on my danger list. Blatantly replacement/repair for people living in blocks of flats where many could perish must have the highest priority.

The shambles we are witnessing must be a testament to some pretty low grade thinking. And what is interesting is neither Which? or Parliament seem to highlight, or if it is missing, this priority of danger. Consequently a plan that people could logically understand.

I very much agree with prioritisation according to risk. As I have mentioned repeatedly, tumble dryers should be fitted with some form of interlock that requires the filter to be cleaned prior to use.

Have you passed this suggestion on to the relevant BSI Committee yet? Details posted below 17 Oct. Alternatively have you asked Which? to look at the proposal (other than on a Convo)?

I am not going to pass on any suggestions until I have read the existing standard and supplementary material. If you feel that my concerns are justified, perhaps we could work together and you could raise the issue. Throughout my working life I worked in an environment where fellow scientists cooperated with each other, even when they were effectively competitors.

I would be happy to work with anyone to put sensible proposals forward, but i am no expert in this field. My access to the standard is read-only so I am unable to copy it to you. However Which? should help us with this perhaps?

The blocked lint filter issue would require a pressure sensitive switch to prevent the dryer operating. Have you looked at what the change in pressure is across the filter to see whether appropriate devices are available and reliable? It would not prevent people simply removing the filter of course.

I am still concerned that the Indesit problem seems much more widespread than dryers generally. I would want to know what, in the design, causes this; why does it need the component change or addition that Whirlpool are making when they repair driers? I would want to know why this is necessary and why a fire spread from a part of the dryer that should have materials used that do not support one. I have repeatedly asked Which? to examine and test an affected dryer in this area but with no response. I want to see actions taken, not just complaints.

I have written to Iain Wright who chairs the BIS select committee that is dealing with Whirlpool to ask if they have looked at this, and whether the dryers fully comply with the flammability requirements of the BS EN standard. No reply (yet). At the same time I asked why no compensation had been proposed for owners waiting so long for repairs. No answer to this either from them or from Which? I am concerned about the way consumers interest are protected and helped.

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Thanks, but it’s still in my reading list, along with many articles on campylobacter – another example of industry not doing enough to protect consumers. It’s interesting to see what can go wrong, even if the content is dated and US dryers look very different from those I have seen in the UK.

The industry is a party, with other participants, to providing protection for consumers through the development of standards, particularly international safety standards. Compliance with these EN standards is mandatory before a product can be put on the European market. BSI are our representative and their committees can be contacted with informed and/or expert concerns to help develop and amend them.

There is a separate conversation devoted to Campylobacter but, as it has been raised here, the Government’s Food Standards Agency say ““Many retailers and processors should be commended for the action they have taken so far. The majority signed up to the pledge to ensure that campylobacter in chicken ceases to be a significant public health issue, and continued action will be needed to deliver this.” Again, anyone with informed ideas to help reduce a naturally occurring bacterium that affects a lot of animals could contact them. Meanwhile the advice, as with much food, is to cook chicken properly.

The standards for tumble dryers are clearly inadequate, Malcolm. One thing that needs to be done is to make standards accessible to the general public so that the deficiencies can be agreed and workable improvements made.

I used the example of the campylobacter problem as another example of the commercial sector failing the public. Pressure needs to be maintained to achieve improvement, whether this relates to the safety of household appliances or food safety.

The FSA – presumably well informed – hold a contrary view on campylobacter, but the Convo on that topic is the better place for this discussion.

The “general public” may have view on tumble driers and these can be made known to appropriate organisations so that those with expertise can decide what to put forward to the relevant standards committee. Which? should be one of those. They tell me they have access to all standards.

My practical suggestions in this and other Conversations are to inform and encourage Which? and others, in the hope that appropriate action might be taken.

I want public access to standards so that those interested in a subject can be better informed.

Many of us want this, and as a consumers’ representative I hope Which? will be proactive in taking in contributors views ans knowledge and putting them to the right people who can take necessary action.

I have found a way to access many standards. However, as has been said elsewhere, standards are expensive to produce and update and currently they must be paid for. As it is an international system one country deciding to make them free to all (which is unlikely) would simply mean subscribers anywhere in the world could abandon their supporting payments and use the free facility.

Many central libraries used to keep paper copies. Some offer on line access. Higher Educational Establishments will also have online access and, as we fund them, could perhaps offer registered public access. Perhaps Which? could also do this for concerned members. I see a number of ways of doing this. Many “public” documents are charged for. International standards are not “public” but funded by industry and other organisations – just as BSI is.

I have mentioned previously, thanks to open source publishing, a substantial and increasing proportion of scientific papers and reviews are now available to everyone free of charge. I was one of the sceptics to start with but like many, I now believe that this has been a good move. What was necessary was for it to happen was to transfer the cost of publication to the authors, who in turn passed them on to the research councils and other grant awarding bodies, industry or wherever else they received funding from. In the case of standards the costs could be borne by those manufacturers that make products that are required to comply with particular standards. Various other options are possible.

One of my suggestions has been that tumble dryers and other appliances are enclosed in a steel case to ensure that any small fire is contained. It seems that all the experts on the relevant standards committee have forgotten that fire needs oxygen, something that most of us will have learned at school. Vented tumble dryers are more of a problem because they draw in air and flames and hot air could emerge into the vent duct, typically plastic or corrugated aluminium. The forensic website Duncan informed us of, or a link from this, advertised the use of fixed metal ducting as a safer alternative. Perhaps flexible stainless steel ducting might be adequate.

The huge amount of work that industry, for example, and others contribute to the development of standards is paid for by them. Those who put standards together also have a good deal of cost. Standards are not only specific to one industry. a look at as list of international standards will show their scope. These costs have to be recovered and it is generally the user that pays by purchasing standards. There are ways of accessing standards as I said above. Maybe you could approach BSI for their views, or ask Which?, as I did, if they could make their subscription to online standards cover their interested members.

You could pass your ideas on to the Secretary of the relevant committee:
CPL/61 “Safety of household and similar electrical appliances”
at
BSI
389 Chiswick High Road
London
W4 4AL

or raise them via Which?

A web search for the title you have given produced a pdf on a Chinese website. The document is dated 2012 and it looks as if there is either a later version or relevant information. Maybe you have found the current document and proposals for revision.

Knowing that the move to open source publication of science has taken decades and considerable pressure from those working in science, I suspect that it’s not worth contacting BSI and hope that Which? will push for public access to standards. I might ask why residents of Glasgow have online access from home, whereas most of us have to find a library with with access to British Standards Online.

I have seen parts of British Standards quoted in online discussion groups and there seems to be plenty that could be improved. Just looking at the 2012 standard I can see: The unexpected closure of self-resetting thermal cut-outs and overcurrent protective devices shall not cause a hazard.
NOTE 2 An example of an appliance in which self-resetting thermal cut-outs and overcurrent protective devices could cause a hazard is a food mixer.

I don’t believe this is adequate. Self-resetting thermal cut-outs are commonly used in kettles and in the ones that I have dismantled they have been the sole protection in case the kettle is turned on when empty or the paddle switch is accidentally knocked into the on position. The latter is easy to do with some designs of kettle. A kettle typically has a heater rated at 2.5 – 3kW and if the thermal cutout operates repeatedly when the kettle overheats and then cools down, the contacts will weld, resulting in a potential fire hazard. If I’m not mistaken, Duncan’s forensic website describes this hazard in some tumble dryers. Fortunately tumble dryers can additionally have a non-resettable thermal fuse that has to be replaced by a service engineer, though I do not know if this is mandatory. (Kenneth Watt told us that turning off a tumble dryer mid-cycle can open this fuse.) Back in the 1960s, kettles popped out the kettle connector if turned on when empty. Though certain aspects of safety of household electrical goods have certainly improved, I think we have gone backward in other ways, notably use of plastic casings in products with powerful heaters.

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A safety standard will look at possible fault conditions that could arise in a product and make sure that they do not result in a dangerous situation. That is sensible.

You can check the status of a standard on the BSI website and other information, including who are represented on the responsible UK committee.

The current standard for safety of tumble dryers is BS EN 60335-2-11:2010+A1:2015. This says the original current standard was dated 2010 and was last amended in 2015. This included two amendments, one Aug 2013 and the other Apr 2015. Work is “in hand”. It is issued as a British Standard (BS) reproducing the European Standard (EN). The UK committee CPL/61 will discuss changes and work with the CEN (European) committee responsible for ratifying ENs. The original BS for domestic appliance safety goes back many years.

BSI issue “Drafts for public comment” when a change to a standard is being considered so anyone can look at what is proposed and make comments to the committee. I would hope that Which? might look at these.

I have given you an everyday example of a design that could be made safer by the addition of a non-resettable thermal fuse. They are cheap and effective. I have now inspected my Russell Hobbs kettle and that has a better design of resettable thermal cutout, but still lacks a thermal fuse.

In order for a draft for public comment to be useful, this needs the original document to be publicly available. I rest my case.

Duncan – Although I have never lived near Glasgow, I have used the Mitchell Library when visiting the city. I still have my card. Extending Freedom of Information requests to cover the commercial world is high on my agenda.

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Your everyday example may or may not be appropriate. Suggest it to those who look after these matters and let them consider it. I have suggested places where helpful suggestions can be made.

If you want access to standards I have also suggested where this might be achieved. Assuming you are a Which? member have you asked Which? to make access available to you? It might be if there was enough pressure they might provide a way. One possibility is for those with relevant expertise to offer a voluntary service to Which? on particular standards to help them make submissions to BSI.

The “free” standards you wish for won’t happen. No good waiting for it. If you want to intervene in standards you need to find other ways. I currently have access.

That’s them. You can buy them for less than £1 from CPC Farnell, though RS is more expensive. I’m glad that some kettles include them.

When a fuse fails it indicates a fault. How many are competent to find and cure that fault? Simply replacing a fuse is not the cure. A non-resettable cut-out is a safety device that might be inconvenient, but prevents the fault recurring maybe with serious consequences. We are concerned with safety first, and that is what Standards address.

Malcolm – I have already said that I do have access to British Standards, but only in a nearby city library, not at home. I asked for a list of places that did provide access and posted this earlier this year. Though I have access to these standards, I wanted you and others to have easy access, which you did not have at the time.

I’m not sure why you don’t want to inform us of how you now have access to standards. At least I have explained why I have privileged access to scientific papers that are not publicly available other than by payment. Public access to standards would allow those of us with some expertise to review the existing documents and suggest improvements where appropriate.

I want to save needless loss of homes and even lives because of inadequate standards. If you have any evidence that my proposed ways of making tumble dryers safer are worthless or impractical, I’m happy to learn.

Edit: I have now seen your post about non-resettable cutouts (thermal fuses). These are what I want to see in all heating appliances, to provide extra protection if the resettable cutout fails. They are internal and not user-replaceable. Operation of a thermal fuse can be indicative of a fault (e.g. failure of a fan motor) but is often due to misuse. For example if the resettable cutout in a kettle failed (misuse, but a common scenario) a thermal fuse would prevent serious overheating and the risk of fire.

I have never suggested your ideas are “worthless or impractical”. They are, however, unlikely to reach the ears of the experts who can properly evaluate them by just suggesting them in Convos so I am encouraging you to propose them to those who are responsible for taking action. Which? and/or BSI for example.

Equally I have suggested you. like I, approach possible sources of access to be able to look at standards. I have suggested some of those above. I believe Which? should help those who are members and have expertise, with access and, in turn, to be helped (if they want help) by those members.

A year or more ago I asked BSI where public access was available for standards and they helpfully provided me with a list of public libraries. I put this on a Convo to hopefully help. I would like to see public educational establishments also help interested people with access. Any other public bodies that we might tap into?

I posted an updated list and there are not many universities that currently have access. However, at least some universities do give visitor access to their libraries if they can make a reasonable case. Fine if you are a studying historical documents but not if you want online access to standards.

Wavechange – Referring to your comment [19/10/2017] that started “I have mentioned previously“, a couple of thoughts come to mind:

First, many other makes of tumble dryer do not seem to have caused the burning problem associated with the Indesit, Creda, and Hotpoint models now taken over by Whirlpool, so practical designs and engineering solutions must exist. It is possible that the lint filtering system in those models performs badly and is poorly designed leading to an excessive build-up of material in proximity to the heat source, or that the tumble dryer’s action itself is leading to the liberation of too much lint thus choking the filter system. However, whatever the cause of the lint build-up, the absence of an interlock to prevent operation until the filter has been cleared is a serious deficiency.

Second, it must be possible to close the vent outlet in the event of excessive heat within the machine. Obviously, vents are designed to exhaust hot air so any shutter would have to remain open during normal venting but perhaps could be coupled to a heat sensor that would close the shutter at lower and higher temperatures than experienced during the normal drying process thus preventing the ingress of oxygen to feed a fire.

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I wonder, John, if Which? have any kind of “Technical Committee” that looks at such problems, listens to suggestions, discusses them with appropriate bodies and tries to propose sensible changes? If they do not, perhaps they should have one.

They are in a good position to listen to Convo proposals, take information from members online, talk to their European sister organisations, and glean information from product testing. Or is it not within their remit?

Engaging with BSI Committees is one way to deal with product safety.

I think all material that is financed from the public purse should be available, in full, free of charge on line so those who are interested can examine them and be critical as necessary. When such documents were in printed form only then a charge to cover printing and distribution was fair, but that is no longer the case (unless we feel that those without internet access would be discriminated against).

Privately funded work should not, in my view, necessarily be made publicly available; its costs can generally only be recovered from sales. Just like Which? magazines, factual books, and so on are. International standards are largely privately funded and their target audience is often very restricted, specialised and benefit commercially from the very existence of such standards. The system that supports such standards are the guardians of their integrity. Which? can represent consumers to these organisations.

I think we should end this private debate, Malcolm, but I emphatically disagree about privately funded work, which the public ultimately funds in a variety of ways. The world is changing. I recall the failed efforts to make us pay for web browsers.

I was partly responding to duncan, not to a “private debate”. The sensible suggestions made on this Convo will get nowhere unless someone takes them to the relevant people. Getting change, if change is appropriate, in the way tumble dryer standards improve safety is the objective of some. We should pursue that, in my personal view. We should also pursue compensation for those customers waiting far too long for some action to repair their unsafe dryers.

I had originally hoped that Which? Convo might be a forum on which ideas could be shared and improved. For example we could explore possible ways of improving the safety of tumble dryers and then debate whether or not these are practical and likely to be worthwhile.

I remember your suggestion of using UV light to control bugs in washing machines and I might be able to make an input providing we are right Convo.

Throughout my working life, I have always had access to the information I needed, so please understand my frustration in being denied easy access to information relevant to the health and safety of people in this country, for commercial reasons.

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I was frustrated also at being unable to access standards information. Very necessary to begin looking at product safety. I think Which? should pay more attention to the “nuts and bolts” of problems like this and take interest in possible recommendations such as have been made in Convos. I think rather than individuals making separate approaches with their ideas to various organisations they should be put together, discussed, developed and submitted under one “umbrella”. I suggested Which? might have, for example, a “technical committee” to consider such matters, aided by those members who had an interest and some expertise. Proposals do need evaluating critically.

To give an idea of the contributors at the UK end there is a CPL/61XX subcommittee looking after the safety of domestic electrical appliances, contributors drawn from the following:
Electric Fencing Association
A E A – Agricultural Engineers Association
Association of Consulting Scientists
B E A M A Limited – T A C M A – Association of Control Manufacturers
A M D E A – Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances
B E A M A Limited
British Blind and Shutter Association
Intertek Group PLC
British Refrigeration Association
British Retail Consortium
British Toy and Hobby Association
The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association
Consumer and Public Interest Network
Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning Manufactures Association
I E T – Institution of Engineering and Technology
London Fire Brigade
Microwave Technologies Association
Portable Electric Tool Manufacturers Association
H S E – Health and Safety Executive
Small Electrical Appliance Marketing Association
Flexel International Ltd
B E A M A Ltd – The Electric Heating and Ventilation Association
Heating and Hotwater Industry Council
Industrial Cleaning Machine Manufacturer
B I S – Department for Business Innovation and Skills
TraC Global
Secretary – CPL/61/4
Individual capacity – CLC/TC 61/WG 8 Expert

Thanks Malcolm. I had already found this list and looked up the Association of Consulting Scientists in the hope that there might be a little input from higher education, but it seems to be a trade association.

I absolutely agree that proposals need discussion and evaluation. Many of this will have done this at work, making use of available expertise. I share your concern that Which? does not adopt a more practical approach but it is clear to me that it has its own remit.

That’s my contribution for the time being.

The problem is, Duncan, that the BSI is an independent commercially-funded organisation that is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act and, as Malcolm has explained, there are understandable commercial reasons why the British Standards are not available to anybody free of charge. However, since a large number of British Standard definitions, specifications and requirements feature as significant elements of secondary legislation [orders, regulations, directives, etc] it would seem to me only right and proper that they should be accessible to any member of the public who wished to consult them and that the government should take responsibility for this by acquiring the right to publish from the BSI and either make them available on a website [perhaps with some entry qualifications and identity details] or ensure that every public library authority maintains a set of Standards at their chief public reference library. On-line is best because the task of updating and maintaining the printed versions is extremely resource intensive.

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John – As I have explained earlier, many science periodicals are now open source and freely available to everyone. The publishers are now paid by those who want to publish their papers, which have been budgeted for in grant applications and contracts, rather than by subscriptions from users. As a result, everyone has free access to the full articles through the publishers’ websites or dedicated indexes that can search for articles on any topic. It’s not just science that is moving to open source publishing.

Standards could be funded by the companies that make products that must comply with these standards, and the rest of us would be able to access them free of charge. There is no commercial secrecy involved in standards and anyone can already buy copies if they can afford to. It can be done – if there is a will.

I agree with you, Wavechange.

Thank you, John. To give a simple analogy, imagine having to pay for access to every website.

Duncan – This is nothing to do with commercial secrets or patents, nor indeed aeronautics, so I think you have gone a bit over the top in response to my comment. The fact is that the BSI has been around for a very long time and has a certain mindset that is probably now anachronistic given the release of information in other technical and scientific fields, as Wavechange has pointed out. There is no conspiracy associated with the BSI’s policy or any pressure from government. I believe the original purpose was the protection of its copyright material and, possibly at the behest of the manufacturing community that supported and funded it, it wanted to ensure that access to the basic performance and safety standards for plant, equipment and materials, which cost a lot to devise and promulgate, could not just be picked up off the shelf by any new company that had not contributed to their development. However, times move on and certainly in the interests of public safety, openness is now essential; Wavechange has outlined how that can be achieved. It will not open the floodgates as fewer than one per cent of the population not already involved in technical specifications will have any desire to pore over the British Standards, but for those who wish to do so there should be no impediment.

There is a further point. BSI make a lot of money by selling British Standards all over the world, especially to countries that cannot themselves justify having such a body. This helps to fund the development of standards and the BSI have, rightly, been careful to protect those markets. I am sure this can still be secured even in an open-source publishing environment.

I am quite well apprised of the history and development of RAF fighter planes but don’t think this is the right place to expound on it.

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I don’t know why, but so far as I am aware nobody in the UK has sued Whirlpool for their failure to comply with the Consumer Rights Act [or its predecessor the Sale of Goods Act]. This could be because Peterborough Trading Standards have capitulated and accepted Whirlpool’s action plan for remediation and compensation which pulls the rug from under any individual or class action.

Personally, I think putting the Indesit, Creda and Hotpoint brands out of their misery has done us all a favour. Imagine if this had all come up under Indesit’s control; the situation for owners could have been far worse. Nevertheless, Whirlpool should get a move on now they own the problem.

We have the right laws, Duncan, but they are no help if the enforcers don’t act.

Standards embrace far more than specific manufactured goods from specific companies. As it is, the standards that relate to manufactured products are already heavily funded in their preparation by companies spending their staffs time and resources to develop them. It is not as simple as is thought. The standards organisations, like BSI are not government funded bodies and their extensive facilities, staff, secretarial work, all need to be paid for. Standards are international and I suspect the UK could not go it alone in publishing international standards for free.

I think we should accept this won’t happen anytime soon and concentrate on how those with interest and expertise can help Which? contribute to standards that might need amending.

duncan, Standards do not concern commercial secrets. Their content is open to anyone who reads them. The fact that they need to purchase them does not make them “secret”. You have to purchase a Which? magazine – it is not available otherwise. But its contents are not “secret”.

Patents are not secret either – quite the opposite. The point of patents is to make innovative information available to all.

It is interesting that our statutory rights under the CRA/SOGA make the retailer responsible whereas recalls are generally handled by the manufacturer.

Which? magazines are valuable sources of information to all consumers. However they are only accessible to those who buy them through subscription. Just like standards. Would you suggest Which publications should be free to everyone? In which case all subscriptions would cease, Which? would have very little funding and the Consumers Association would cease to exist, leaving consumers in a worse spot then ever.

I have just had a very positive experience with Whirlpool – rather to my pleasant surprise. All I spoke to had British accents.

I think we need to consider the logisitcs of what Whirlpool are having to do with an inherited problem of huge proportions. I think we also, as I have said before, query why Peterborough Trading Standards (who are permitted to represent the UK ) have not considered any form of compensation for the many affected consumers waiting a long time for a repair. I’m afraid I must also criticise Which? for not appearing to stand up for consumers, at least not effectively (as nothing seems to have improved).

Malcolm – I don’t routinely criticise Which? but I have expressed my concern that the full report on carbon monoxide alarms is not publicly available. Would you prefer that safety information is only available to those who pay subscriptions?

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“technical information that the public themselves supplied originally “. Not sure what this is. For manufactured products most of the technical information is supplied for the development of standards is supplied by commercial companies, information gleaned at their own expense. and then shared with others.

We should know what the problem is with the Indesit-manufactured driers that has made them a fire hazard. hopefully we will find out.

The purpose of standards (its too late to find this one) is to ensure products perform properly. i wonder what covers CO alarms – compliance with a standard and marking them accordingly should be all we need to at least ensure basic safety requirements are met. It should not need a CA to reveal this. I’ll see if I can find a BS EN tomorrow.

Even if the standard for carbon monoxide alarms is satisfactory, without independent testing of products, the public is at risk.

I have been told my dryer needs modifying. I am told if I return it and collect a new different one I will “only” have to pay around £50, also that this offer is about to be withdrawn. As I am 82 and live “out in the sticks” I would expect a medal for actually achieving such an exchange. Fortunately the dryer is out in the shed, though I would prefer not to lose it or its contents so I clean my filter meticulously. It is unsuitable to dry washing in a mobile home, so I continue to use it when strictly necessary and with great caution and wonder how much longer I will have to wait.

This is a good point, Audrey. No-one should have to incur costs if they have been sold goods that are potentially dangerous. I’m not keen on anyone having an electrical appliance in a shed, which could be damp, but if a disaster happened, hopefully your home would be unaffected. I hope the company takes prompt action.

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Audrey, The Sale of Goods Act tells the retailer: “Any refund, repair or replacement you arrange with your customer relating to faulty goods must not cause them too much inconvenience and you will have to pay for other costs,for example, collection or delivery.”

I would suggest you point this out, insist they observe it (it is the law) and take the offer – £50 sounds a good deal.

I am posting solely to get advices of further posts now the flooding of the topic has halted.

Hi Patrick,
I asked you about your Siemens dryer near the top of the page, but you probably missed my post.