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.
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?
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?.