/ Home & Energy

Whirlpool’s unsafe dryers must be recalled

Whirlpool

If an appliance in your home had a serious safety flaw, how would you know and what would your expectations of the manufacturer be? As an owner of a fire-risk dryer, Sarah Jayne Lyden-Burke joins us to explain her frustration at the situation…

In January 2016 I found out I was one of the 5.3 million consumers unlucky enough to own a tumble dryer affected by the Whirlpool safety notice – my dryer was at risk of catching fire.

The safety notice covers the Whirlpool-owned Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Proline and Swan branded dryers that were manufactured between April 2004 and October 2015.

Dangerous dryers

Something about the situation felt unjust – faced with the choice of waiting around for a modification or paying towards a reduced price replacement, I founded a Facebook Group ‘Hotpoint Dryer Fire Risk’ so I could rally others in similar position to me.

These dryers pose a fire risk due to lint getting onto the heating element. Owners of these dryers were initially told that they could continue to use their appliance as long as they maintained them correctly by cleaning the filter after every use, and effectively ‘babysit’ the machine.

Finally, a ‘u-turn’ decision on the safety advice was announced in February this year. The change came after Which? filed for a judicial review of Peterborough Trading Standards’ handling of the Whirlpool dryer safety issue. As Whirlpool’s UK headquarters are in Peterborough, it’s Peterborough City Council’s Trading Standards department that’s been dealing with this matter.

Peterborough Trading Standards then issued two enforcement notices which forced Whirlpool to advise consumers that all affected dryers were to be unplugged and not to be used until they had the required modification.

Finding a solution

This is where the story gets even more complicated. On social media forums, many owners of the modified dryers are discussing that there are reasons to believe that the modification is not a fail-safe solution. Many are also reporting problems with their appliances that didn’t exist prior to modification.

We’ve all been left exasperated by the issue of mixed-messaging around these unsafe dryers. So many people have been let down, some more seriously than others. I’ve heard stories of those with disabilities who’ve shared concerns about their personal safety, as well as those who’re suffering with stress and anxiety caused the situation.

Besides the stress, what’s more concerning is the thought that there could be people out there who are unaware that they have one of these fire-risk dryers in their home. Do you have one? Have you checked yours or a family members’ dryer to make sure it’s not affected by the safety notice?

Check to see if your dryer is affected and find out what your rights are here.

It’s of the utmost importance that these fire risk dryers are recalled. We need to get the Parliamentary petition calling on Whirlpool UK to recall all faulty tumble dryers’ to 100,000 signatures by the end of April. Hitting this target will ensure that a serious debate on this safety issue can be considered in Parliament after the General Election.

It really is time now for Whirlpool to recall all dryers before any more damage caused. There have been too many fires as a result of inaction, approximately 750 fires have been reportedly linked to these dryers.

In my opinion, that’s far too many! So Whirlpool, please, make the right decision and recall all affected dryers – we need to get these dryers out of people’s homes.

This is a guest contribution by Sarah Jayne Lyden-Burke, founder of the campaign group ‘Hotpoint Dryer Fire Risk’. All views expressed here are Sarah’s own and not necessarily those share by Which?.

Comments

Electrical Safety First http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk sends out emails about recalls very promptly. It’s simple to register for this service. The website also has a searchable database of recalled products.

We need a central registration service for all new products, on the lines of the system run by VOSA to notify us of safety issues with cars. I am not happy about registering products with manufacturers or retailers because of a variety of problems.

1. Companies have for years mixed up registration with data collection and competitions. I don’t want the risk that my data could be used for marketing.

2. Registration of products does not always mean that owners are notified of recalls.

3. If you move home, the companies would not have your contact details unless they had been advised of changes. People in rented accommodation sometimes move frequently.

4. Owners of secondhand products would not be informed of recalls.

Despite these problems, our Consumer Minister is looking at ‘Register my Appliance’, which is used by white goods manufacturers. In addition to the problems I have outlined above, this registration service does not cover the large majority of electrical goods.

I would like to see a registration service that all household goods and not just electrical goods. We need the help of Which? to make it happen.

wavechange, you list a number of items as to why you are “not happy about registering products”. Would you now like to add to the proposals already made about how effective registering “could be done”?

We’ve seen 18 months of words complaining about Whirlpool; what we need are constructive proposals for sorting Whirlpool out but, more important, ensuring problem products can be fully recalled in the future. We need a “can do” approach rather than “why we can’t” and Which? need to address this. They seem to be the only vehicle we can use. Let’s get the “Consumers’ Association” back.

We have been urging Which? to investigate an appropriate automatic recall system and help Government set this up as quickly as possible – initially for the most “at risk” products. This will, in my view, require automatic registration of the purchaser by the seller when a new product is sold. Which? have never responded to any suggestions. The problem with demanding that Whirlpool recall all suspect appliances is that unless owners have registered them they will not know who to recall them from, will they?

The other problem is that owners were advised not to use the Sale of Goods Act. When Whirlpool initially faced up to the problem they declared there were unsafe driers and knew which they were. Under SoGA an owner with a product under 6 (5 Scotland) years old can claim for a product that is unsafe. This seemed at the time by far the best route than relying on the plan worked out with Trading Standards that has left so many owners with unworkable dryers for up to 18 months, and Which? went along with this.

SoGA also requires repairs or replacements to be provided without unreasonable inconvenience to the customer. This implies compensation if that did not happen – and in Whirlpool’s case it has failed badly.

It is too late to ask for a recall. Whirlpool should be told to compensate all owners who still have faulty appliances so they can get themselves a replacement of their choice; they have been messed around for far too long.

As SoGA only strictly applies for products up to 6 years old I wonder whether the path pursued by Peterborough TS and Which? hoped to get redress for all consumers, however old their appliance. If so it was a misjudgement I’d suggest. An early class action might have been the best solution to get the consumer a fair deal.

These are my personal inexpert views that I have expressed before on Whirlpool Convos, and I am prepared to be corrected. However, Which? have never done so when invited in the past.

Jack says:
22 April 2017

We bought one of the affected driers three years ago, three years that we had been, unknowingly, living with a possibly lethal machine. We notified Whirlpool as soon as the dangers became known, and we only switched the machine on when we were able to physically see it, as opposed to going to bed leaving it on. After about 18 months, an engineer finally fitted the modification. We still don’t fully trusted it. Yesterday, we heard of a case, not far away, where two men have died in a fire in their flat. The initial report says that the seat of the fire was IN OR NEAR their tumble drier ! It was Hotpoint. Without the money to buy a new machine, what can we do, except pray for dry weather so that we can put the washing on the clothes line ?

Paul John Manners says:
23 April 2017

Do what we did, vote with your feet. Having waited for 6 months and being told that it would be at least another 6 months before our machine was at the “top of the list”, we ditched the Hotpoint and bought a Siemens. We will never buy another Whirlpool product again, even if we have to save a bit harder to buy the more expensive Siemens, or other manufacturer. Putting a house that is 700 times more expensive than a tumble dryer at risk is a nil brainer. This goes against all the hard work done by the CA, but, at the end of the day, I have a more valuable asset to protect. I appreciate others may not be in a position to do this, but unless consumers vote by putting their money elsewhere, manufacturers will never learn, hit them in the wallet where it hurts.

I absolutely agree Paul – but the government doesn’t, it is either introducing/thinking of introducing/ or has introduced legislation BANNING the British public from boycotting . It is already law in some parts of the USA , and ,as usual, what the US does , the UK copies .

That’s a new one to me. Can you post a link on the UK government’s position, please, Duncan?

I think you’re a bit confused on that, Duncan. The US does have an Office of Antiboycott Compliance (OAC), established in the mid ’70s, but the laws in that regard are to prevent US companies joining with Arab boycotts on Israel. No law has been introduced (or is being considered) to try to stop the public boycotting anything, simply because apart from being plain daft such a law would be utterly unenforceable.

John I said -thinking of implementing it among the options I provided and yes even university student debates on the subject have been called off in relation to another country due to “pressure ” . Its the principle I am against -Freedom of Speech and action in the choices we make in life are a major item with me. If you end up jailed for a difference of opinion then you have to ask Voltaire,s statement – if you want to know who rules over you find out who you cant criticise and because I said this just wait to see reaction.

I will get the States that have introduced legislation blocking Freedom of Speech to campaign for boycott, Ian. Education Dept National WW 11 Museum -exploring personal +collective responsibility in WW11 -Pastor Martin NIemoller – when they came for me , there was no one left to speak up –and guess what that was in relation to ?

Yes, I picked up your vagueness, Duncan, but I don’t think there has been any thought whatsoever given by the government to a boycott of companies by the public – it’s just another idle supposition dressed up as a fallacious proposition with not an ounce of substance to it. As Ian has said, in any case it wouldn’t work. There is no reason why any consumer cannot declare that they will never again buy a product made by a certain manufacturer as Mr Manners has done.

It could be that someone has extrapolated the notion from the government’s decision earlier this year by which local authorities [as part of their procurement policies] are not allowed to boycott countries or companies unless restrictions have already been put in place by the Government.

Boycotting has been a significant aspect of public protest in the USA for a very long time and continues to have a healthy existence there.

Your second paragraph is very relevant John. -re- the governments decision not to allow local councils the right to boycott (with the backing of the local voters ) the right to do business with a company or country of their choice . You do know, being a very intelligent person, that it “kills two birds with one stone ” As TTIP is still in the offing (or its re-negotiated equivalent ) +the Canadian version which is USA by the back-door -check out US companies in Canada , then it effectively blocks local councils from giving contracts to local firms or British only firms -strike-#1 -for removal of democracy and – effectively blocking a “Country ” strike #2- it looks like Britain -open-house to the world-anything goes even if the public dont like the policies of that country , while the USA implements legislation to the opposite effect (latest news from “the Donald ” to me ) I am not decrying the US,s actions as it is sticking up for its own hence I understand Donald,s policy . Do we have to sell our souls to a foreign country ?, and make no mistake the UK in USA,s eyes and Law is a foreign country so I have never bought this-“hands across the pond ” propaganda.

Patrick Taylor says:
23 April 2017

The relevance of the Govt.s action in the context of NHS or similar is an interesting example of how bodies like the WTO and probably TTIP etc impinge on democracy at a low level.

Personally I would like Council’s to have powers that stir their voters.

Whereas I, personally, wouldn’t trust them with fixing holes in the road…

I think your interpretation is wrong, Duncan. There is nothing in the government’s measure that prevents a local authority placing contracts with UK or local companies so long as the proper tendering and procurement procedures have been followed. What is wrong is introducing unnecessary boycotts the effect of which could be to push up the cost of goods and services. Foreign policy is the domain of the UK government and it is not for town halls to set up their own international trade policies. Boycotts provoke reciprocal actions so they are not a good thing anyway.

In practice very few local authorities need to place large contracts with foreign countries but they frequently need to source supplies and materials from foreign-owned companies or procure foreign-made goods through intermediary suppliers. Local authorities have a fiduciary duty to obtain the best value for money for their taxpayers and for the services they provide. For very large contracts [for example, for tramcars, buses, computer systems, infrastructure components] they are also required – for the time being – to comply with EU rules by publicly issuing invitations-to-tender through the Official Journal of the European Union. Councils are entitled to take into account a range of economic factors in drawing up a list of tenderers and through judicious specifications can attract local contractors but discriminatory provisions are not permitted.

In terms of democracy, voters in local elections are not empowered to vote on international trading as that is reserved to Westminster so they cannot exercise a mandate at council level.

Tell me John what right has American big business to dictate the internal policy of United Kingdom councils voted on by British citizens ? Councils can , if backed by the voters who voted them in , have/should the right to say to their councilors we do not like the internal/external methods of – x/y/z country and we dont want our Councillors buying their produce , I can name several countries with despicable internal and external policies that this country is “glad -handing ” – you know the ones I am talking about . If we are talking or taking a high moral standing when dealing with Russia/Iran etc by sanctioning them why isn’t the same being applied to countries much worse when it comes to democracy ? its pure hypocrisy. Who pays the Councillors wages– the local tax payers not HMG .

Yes, Duncan, but as I said it would be ultra vires for a local council to impose a boycott unless the government had already put restrictions in place. If one loony council took action against a particular company or country without justification it could jeopardise efforts by the government to deal with that firm or state and compromise the ability of other councils to obtain best value. Electors in council elections don’t have a vote on such matters because they are outwith the competence of local authorities. There are perfectly good ways for local authorities to procure all they need without doing business with rogue nations; since this is largely academic – as there are very few contracts where a boycott would make any difference – it seems to be a case of grandstanding by certain local authorities. I do not know which ones are troubled by this ruling and expect it has been blown up out of all proportion to its significance.

So far as American big businesses having any influence over local councils’ buying decisions is concerned, they shouldn’t and they don’t. I should be surprised if the UK government entered into a trade deal with the USA which allowed such interference and I am sure Parliament would quash such an attempt. As to other countries to which you allude, I don’t know which ones you are referring to and what goods UK local authorities are buying from them.

Most local authority income comes from the Exchequer in the form of grants and subsidies, so the local taxpayers are not paying more than a portion of the councillors’ allowances.

Shall we get back to Whirlpool, which is an American company which has inconvenienced the lives of millions of appliance owners in the UK? I see absolutely no reason why UK consumers should not vow never to buy any of their products again. Since there are alternative manufacturers, local authorities can easily avoid buying Whirlpool products without contravening any legislation. I would criticise Peterborough City Council for showing exceptional and unjustified leniency towards Whirlpool which is a fault in the other direction. An astute government would have intervened but we don’t need to rehearse that all over again.

[This comment has been tweaked to align with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

On your first point, Duncan (what right has American big business to dictate the internal policy of United Kingdom councils voted on by British citizens ?) the answer is none, of course. But Capitalism is the structure under which we operate and successive governments have implemented various restrictions on Businesses so that a balance between profit for the shareholders and and rights for the consumer can be maintained.

The flip side of all this is that some councils have in the past, chosen to operate their own boycotts on purely ideological grounds and, for me, anyway, that’s unacceptable. Councils are supposed to be ‘public servants’ but in my experience they all too easily can become agenda-driven caucuses of narrow-minded and frequently inept individuals who see opportunities to gain publicity by disadvantaging those who pay for their services. In those instances legislation is necessary.

I thought I should mention that I have also submitted a comment in response to Duncan’s post but it has been in the moderation queue for ten hours. I endorse what Ian has said above.

My comment [see above] has now been released. Thanks, Moderators.

https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/whirlpool-hotpoint-indesit-tumble-dryer-fire/#comment-1483878 refers.

Patrick Taylor says:
24 April 2017

The reason I want people to become involved is that if Councils have little power other than what London allows then there is little point to local politics. I quite understand the need for Councils to provide best value etc but even a cursory glance at recent Council scandals reveals that under the disengaged electorate all manner of naughtiness is thriving.

That the BBC or somebody does not have a regular programme aimed at maladministration is somewhat amazing. There is certainly enough fodder from the Planning Portal and Ombudsman and Regulators to fill a weekly spot. If the population have the truth hidden from them then they believe everything is OK-ish. There have been numerous long running scandals as highlighted in Private Eye and some that have not even featured there.

Charter schools are already providing fertile ground for disturbing events. In the US whistleblowers can receive substantial awards and if that is what it takes to break corruption and mediocrity then lets get on with it.

Patrick Taylor , your answer is the underlying driving force of a lot of my posts on various subjects that power is being divested from the public and “Centralized ” this obviously upset many who-poo-poo the idea and refuse to accept it . At one time local Councillors in this country acted on behalf of the local voters, not so now , instead of acting with an “Independent air ” they take their lead from Central politics , usually Headquarters in London who have a “set policy ” which used to be limited but now covers all walks of life just like “Big Brother ” politics and and dont even think of stepping out of line with “Central Office ” or “Big Whip ” will scourge you . As regards Whistle -Blowers I am sure you know what has happened to those NHS workers who “blew the whistle ” which I posted about a year or two ago which our ex friend in NI agreed with whose wife works in the NHS (or did ) . When I worked in the NHS I knew about several scandals that were covered up but this did not go down well for me on Which,s website with some disagreeing with me + our friend which ended up with him “walking out ” . Does this stance still apply ?

Reference http://www.gov.uk – Consumer Safety Regulations

“Goods imported into the UK must comply with domestic safety regulations and standards. For example, imported household electrical products must comply with three sets of consumer safety regulations which are enforced by Trading Standards.

Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
Plugs and Sockets etc (Safety) Regulations 1994
Gas Appliances (Safety) Regulations 1995

While Standards are not compulsory for many goods, the industry CE marking is a legal requirement for some equipment, eg. most types of consumer electronics, ‘phones, computers and medical devices.”

I would assume the same regulatory standards apply to electronic white goods produced in this country irrespective of whether they are British or foreign owned companies and that the onus is on TS to ensure UK legislation is enforceable in the event of hazardous and dangerous goods being marketed for sale here under the Consumer Rights Act.

You are right to be worried about the Standards -CE markings which are compulsory in the EU Alfa- especially on electrical goods /gas burners/radio/fridges/freezers /mechanical toys /machinery etc etc where the manufacturer is liable to display a CE label . BUT – many goods are imported/made in China now where its NOT the manufacturer who labels them but the importer /supplier, non-EU based products are not legally required to have a CE label but many do as it shows a certain ;level of compliance . I have received International security groups emails over the years showing many products with labels from abroad but not conforming to EU practice , this is kept quiet , I have said in the past , to criticism and denial that second hand goods ( returnable due to fault ) are not allowed back into China because of Chinese government refusal to allow it. so what happens is that goods imported from China CANNOT be made the responsibility of the CHINESE manufacturer but the IMPORTER is legally considered to be the “manufacturer ” – ie- by proxy. The Chinese arent stupid . Whereas “good old Britain ” upholds regulations to the last dotted letter. Try that kind of thing in the USA where “the Donald ” has just written into US law big changes in imported items from China . Now I wonder if those Nuclear power stations about to be built here have big CE stickers on them when China has a disclaimer like that ? BY the way guess where I got most of this info?? straight from -chinaimportal.com. info for UK business users.

Something for Margot James MP to ponder and legislate on during forthcoming Brexit negotiations Duncan?

I do hope that Which? will push for consumer issues to be on the agenda at the next election. It’s high time that Which? helped raise awareness of the failings of Trading Standards.

I’m not sure what point is being made, duncan. Any product covered by legislation that requires compliance with a safety standard that is sold in the EU (UK) must show a CE mark, be supported by extensive testing and quality documentation, for it to be put on sale. Fraudulent products inevitably are marketed – how can you stop this? It is Trading Standards job to police the system and we should penalise heavily any importer who participates in such fraud All the more reason to properly fund trading standards.

To clarify (or revise) the role of Trading Standards, log onto http://www.nationaltradingstandards.uk – About National Trading Standards. Funded by the Dept of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and The Food Standards Agency (FSA) to support the work of National Trading Standards.

Looking at the situation from a political perspective, it seems rather odd when an official govt appointed body fails to recognise the legislative procedures laid down by the same govt that implemented them, or that particular govt fails to supply sufficient funding to enable them to effectively prioritise and operate in matters of health and safety issues.

With a general election on the immediate horizon, the electorate can (a) whenever possible, raise this issue with party political candidates and (b) choose to vote for the party that they consider can effectively put consumer concerns before their own party interests.

My point malcolm is that for centuries this country has upheld “Standards ” with a capital “C” for centuries in every department of life and other countries have taken our standard as what most of life is judged on. With Globalization this has changed , as witnessed by the complaints to Which on many subjects relating to bought products from overseas /overseas companies no matter how many excuses are made the reality is that trading standards are changing .Its all very well saying -with a stiff upper lip -WE ! will not change but along come foreign companies who dont “go by the book ” and ( quite rightly) it upsets British consumers , as Beryl says , its time TM took the gloves off and thought of BRITAIN FIRST so that we can make more money just like the rest of the world acts . But you are up against the City who dont want that as their interests arent naturally British interests but overseas “investments ” shall we say and dont want that to change . TM HAS to make up her mind bring this country into even more poverty OR stand up for Britain —and MEAN it . £14.3 Billion in overseas aid and you get Which filled with posters living in rural locations complaining of 1Mbps broadband -or less . I make no apologies for sticking up for this country to anyone , I am British not American/Canadian/German/French etc. This wave of “help the overseas masses , when British citizens are dying from hunger/homelessness /poverty doesn’t just stick in my throat but chokes me .

With reference to your last paragraph, Beryl, we have Vince Cable and the LibDem elements of the 2010-15 Coalition Government to thank for the dismemberment of local authority trading standards/consumer protection services, the creation of the superfluous National Trading Standards organisation, the imposition of Citizen’s Advice as the gateway, and the consequent reduction in funding and support, so we can exclude them from any future solution to the problems.

I don’t understand what you are saying here, or how it relates to product standards duncan. Most Standards are harmonised across the EU, and many other countries, so we all work on a level playing field in that respect.

Bush but says:
24 April 2017

Anything at all that needs doing immediately at once or even sooner always takes a long long time with long debates about them in parliament or anywhere .Thing that do not need immediate attention are done very quickly every time.If a MP is not personally affected they are always very slow to act .Then there are those people who do not listen or ignore any advice they are given .At times you just can’t win

@sarahjaynelyden-burke Thanks for your campaigning on this important safety issue and providing us with this Conversation.

It seems likely that failure of users to clean the lint filter on their dryers increases the risk of fire and could possibly be the main cause of dryer fires. It would be easy for manufacturers to install some form of interlock that required users to remove the filter for cleaning before every use, but I have not seen a dryer with this feature, which I believe should be a requirement.

After signing Andy Slaughter’s petition I contacted him about my concerns about the use of flammable plastic in the cases of modern dryers and other appliances. An all metal case would help to contain a fire, which can occur for a variety of reasons in electrical appliances.

Clearly the priority should be to focus on the Whirlpool dryers but I hope the current problem will help focus attention on ways that we can make safer appliances.

These, and other possible “improvements”, have been suggested many times and could well both influence manufacturers but primarily improvements to safety standards. I have written to BSI about some and received a helpful response; as I have said earlier there is an active working group in the UK and internationally considering fire safety in domestic electrical appliances – materials, fire containment, interlocks, will no doubt be among those items considered by experts. Only by engaging with such bodies that influence these matters will anything be achieved. I have pushed for Which? to take a much more active part with BSI and am hopeful this will produce results. If so, we can make proposals to Which? who, with their knowledge, expertise, customer feedback and testing should be in a position to contribute constructively.

Incidentally I have several times pointed out the standards give the requirements for non-metallic materials, and the tests used to determine their resistance to fire. Plastics included, of course.

The one thing nobody likes doing is cleaning a filter, so some users will just take it out, look at it, put it back again, and the machine will start running. Just wondering – how about some form of cyclonic ejector that would whoosh out the fluff at the end of each cycle [but not into the drains, of course]?

Malcolm – We have criticised Whirlpool, Trading Standards and the Government for procrastinating but perhaps we should turn our attention to BSI. In addition to my previous concerns, why are they not looking at the safety of used dryers that may have accumulated flammable lint?

I believe that BSI should be required to respond to Freedom of Information requests from the public.

I like the idea of a cyclonic ejector. It could work in much the same way as a vacuum cleaner and refuse to work until the ejector container was emptied.

The BSI Kitemark, although regularly audited and widely trusted is not a legal requirement. Read more @ http://www.en.m.wikipedia.org – Kitemark

I think finding the right balance between a fervent desire to promote British business interests and health and safety issues is a necessary requirement and for this reason I would question why the BSI Kitemark does not yet hold legal status.

It is not necessary for the Kitemark to have separate legal status, Beryl. All the specifications that it covers in the categories of product or service that it applies to are fully described in official British Standards [or relevant international Standards] that are incorporated as appropriate in primary or subordinate legislation [that is, either in Acts of Parliament or in Regulations or Directions made under Acts of Parliament]. The Kitemark is a consumer shortcut to aid recognition, and give assurance, of a compliant product.

It is not BSI’s job, to my knowledge. It is for others to police the system. However I have already said that standards improvements are built on experience as well as new technologies. If you have evidence that BSI’s remit is to investigate any product on the market that has shown safety problems in use then please keep us informed.

As far as dryers are concerned, I have said BSI have an active working group looking at fire safety in domestic appliances. I would imagine those involved might be looking at used products with problems. If Which? are involved perhaps they can tell us.

I have contacted BSI in the past and received information and useful replies without any need to invoke FOI. Have you asked them for anything and been refused?

However I have asked Which? a number of times for information through Convos with no responses, despite chasing. Perhaps we should put our own house in order?

Will the Kitemark recognition suffice post Brexit? If we lose “Conformite Europeene” (CE) legal certification, we will need something tangible and legitimate to replace it in order to protect consumers from the likes of Whirlpool and its associates.

No reason for anything to change Beryl. The Kitemark is simply the BSI certification mark; there are many other “marks” used throughout the EU to show that tests have been officially successfully done a products certified as compliant. The CE mark is used to publicise compliance. Any manufacturer anywhere can use the mark providing they meet all the standards requirements.

Since my involvement with Which?Convo I have witnessed too many incidents where compliance usually favours business interests over that of consumers.

Duncan makes a very good point in comparing different market strategies and how they affect global trading. Britain once enjoyed a reputation of producing good quality and reliable products pre joining the EU in 1973. Since those days we have been downgraded to 5th place in world market ratings, currently overshadowed by countries who instigated but were losers in the last world war.

There is currently no room for complacency or too much compliance without legislative back up in trade deals with other countries. In a previous post I backed up TM’s statement that Britain should remain open for business, but added, “provided the interests of its citizens and consumers are protected by its constitutional strategies .”

Compliance in the business world usually means profit before principles. Without legal protection consumers will continue to battle against the injustices such as those we have witnessed with the Whirlpool and VW scandals.

I’m curious: when you say “Britain once enjoyed a reputation of producing good quality and reliable products pre joining the EU in 1973.”Beryl, which goods were you thinking of? Because it certainly wasn’t cars, or radios, or TVs.

Ian, TV,s of the era (up to approx early 70,s ) ran on valves . Now there are valves and valves , normally -Mullard- Osram -GEC etc where up to a high standard dictated by the -you,ve guessed it, the BVA Associations -British Valve Association, dud valve from new ? BVA,d and sent back , but,as per usual, where profit is concerned , many inferior makes were used as replacements as they were cheaper to buy for TV repair shops . Add to that the British design of no mains isolating transformer ( unless you were loaded then you got a VERY expensive model with one in it ) so there was a very big Mains -Dropper-resistor giving out enough heat to help with the room heating , all not conducive to reliability . Valve radio,s were in the same boat and as time went on to save money , the winding’s on the mains transformers got less and less, lowering the standards and causing overheating . Actually the transformers on very old sets were built to a far superior quality bigger layout /more space less heat. But in came “American miniaturization” of valve radio,s and made things worse for the general public. With the introduction of point contact (solid -state ) transistors things began to change but even they were very sensitive to voltage changes and the audio sections were always blowing transistors . What I am trying to say , this was a technological TRANSITIONAL Era of experiment to more reliable design of solid -state . If you wanted top valve equipment you purchased what our Defense industry purchased or bought -ex WD receivers which were built “like battleships ” or from the same companies they used. The Japanese ended up looking good and reliable after a few disasters but now we have equipment built in the “Land of Built to a Price ” and things are going backwards instead of forwards , many engineering parts from China are built into a surprising number of UK/USA types of domestic equipment ( which “the Donald ” is about to change in the USA ) . As far as the ordinary cars purchased then , well Ian , I hold my hand up and say -your right.

“I’m curious: when you say “Britain once enjoyed a reputation of producing good quality and reliable products pre joining the EU in 1973.”Beryl, which goods were you thinking of? Because it certainly wasn’t cars, or radios, or TVs.”

Was it nostalagia and/or rose tinted spectacles 😉

I think we have to be careful not to confuse compliance with technical Standards on the one hand and quality on the other. Standards are primarily concerned with safety so it is possible to have a compliant radio or toaster that makes an awful noise or dreadful toast [as applicable]. For many articles in daily use there are no Standards so manufacturers are free to make them [and retailers to import them] to the lowest possible quality and barely fit for purpose. Exhibit A is X-hose.

I agree that many British-made consumer goods in the decade immediately before we joined the Common Market were unsatisfactory which led the flight to foreign makes and the closure of many UK companies and factories. In the first two decades after the Second World War, however, Britain did have a reputation for well-made domestic products and there was a heavy emphasis on exporting to build up the economy. Appliances were made very robustly with thick metal and vitreous enamel, powerful motors, and heavy mechanical engineering. When you changed channels on a TV it was with a mighty clunk and the function switches on washing machines were like heavy-duty ratchets. However, UK manufacturing was slow to embrace newer technologies, lighter materials, smaller components, and enhanced functionality. Eventually UK goods were priced out of the market.

From the 1970s, I remember Kenwood Chef food mixers and Roberts transistor radios as being examples of great British products. I can add several brands of model trains (and other toys) to that too. In those days, anything made in Hong Kong would generally be derided as being cheap and shoddy relative to anything made in England.

When I started subscribing to Which? in the early 1980s, it became clear that the best cars and appliances were generally not of British manufacture.

Ah, yes; the model trains. Interestingly, that’s a tradition that continues to this day with a company in Consett creating die-cast kits of 00 gauge models.

I am chuffed at that news, Ian, although I have never had the patience for kits. I still have my original all-metal Hornby Dublo trainset. I parted company with all the mainly plastic rolling stock years ago – it was good quality and well-modelled but didn’t quite have the authentic look.

Sorry – this is a branch line; let’s get back to the main route.

DerekP, not forgetting the long list of British cars, most of which are now foreign owned.
Aston Martin
Land Rover
Rolls Royce
Jaguar
Bentley
Mini
Robin Reliant
Morris
Austin

I guess you could also include motor and pedal cycles in the list of British made pre 1973 goods.

It was when the market became flooded with cheaper more affordable but inferior quality Hong Kong and Japanese made imported goods, together with their cultural collective hard work and determination that affected the good old steadfast British made produce and was the catalyst that caused the UK electorate to vote to join the EU common market.

John, I’ve yet to meet a compliant toaster 🙂 In the virtual world maybe but it’s been my experience in the real world of corporate ‘compliance’, standards are sometimes sadly lacking otherwise, why the need for govt regulatory bodies or consumer associations?

We continually see criticism of commercial organisations. Maybe we should direct equal criticism at our public bodies. Those who read Private Eye will see, for example, regular misuse of power and public funds in councils (“Rotten Boroughs”).

I think we must consider the mammoth task Whirlpool have in dealing with millions of affected dryers. I am not excusing the way they have handled it, but it must be recognised that remedying machines was never going to be a quick job. So a question we should ask is why Peterborough Trading Standards did not recognise this, and why they allowed what, inevitably, would be a very protracted operation. We should investigate their role and whether there were other factors that influenced their (seemingly inept) decision.

I agree Malcolm. I was very upset to learn yesterday that the £50m DEC donated charity money for life supporting supplies are not reaching the East African crisis area and people are still dying.

I have no sympathy at all for Whirlpool. The company has sufficient assets to have provided a prompt refund to all owners of the problem dryers and arranged collection of the faulty appliances.

I have understanding, not sympathy. However the point I was making was, in my view, they were allowed by Peterborough TS to pursue a hopeless (if they’d thought of the scale) remedial plan, and I’d like to know why a public body sanctioned this.

In my view under SoGA an unsafe appliance fails the legal requirements and requires remedy without causing unreasonable inconvenience. I’d like to know why the legal remedy was not recommended, particularly given the huge scale of the problem. I would have thought token cases would have set a precedent that would make further claims much more straightforward. If not perhaps there is something deficient in the law.

Owners with older (5 or 6 years) appliances fall outside the scope of SoGA but I expect Whirlpool would, as now, still be required to make appropriate redress.

Financial compensation or replacement, as opposed to an interminable (and suspect) repair programme, has been my view.

I’m not clear about your point. A dryer that won’t start until the filter or condenser is cleaned (as is our Zanussi) are good safety features. Maybe I have misunderstood.

Sarah, if you look at my past posts I have criticised Whirlpool’s conduct of this problem, proposed that replacements or refunds are given “without unreasonable inconvenience”, proposed that faulty machines are examined to see if international standards can be improved, and so on. I have made proposals to both help those affected and the more general problem.

Where we might differ is that I think positive action should have been taken much earlier to help consumers whereas what we have seen is largely 18 months of petitions, campaigns and complaints that still leave hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, with unsafe dryers. So forgive my cynicism about a possible debate at some future date with no proposals made as to what it should aim to achieve, including how we can recall all affected machines.

We are essentially on the same side but seemingly with different views as to how to achieve progress. That is the nature of debate out of which a consensus plan should emerge.

You say “Not that I am in ANY way convinced that the modification is safe,”. Do you have factual information you can publish on unsatisfactory repairs?

I have continually asked about what the modification is, how it makes the dryer safe, and what has been done to satisfactorily demonstrate this to the “authorities” – Peterborough Trading Standards I presume. I also wonder if modifying a CE marked appliance, that could affect its compliance with the International Standard, has been submitted for approval to one of the certifying authorities – e.g. BSI.