/ Home & Energy

Come on Whirlpool, sort this mess out

burnt tumble dryer

Millions of Whirlpool customers could be at risk of tumble dryer fires. Despite the clear safety threat, we found serious failings by Whirlpool. So Whirlpool – please, sort this mess out now.

Seven months have passed since the news that tumble dryers manufactured by Whirlpool (Creda, Indesit, and Hotpoint) are at risk of catching fire.

Seven months on and we’re still waiting for this mess to be resolved. Left totally disappointed by the sheer lack of progress, we went undercover to investigate what’s going on.

Whirlpool fire-risk failings

We conducted a series of undercover phone calls to Whirlpool’s customer service lines, combined with a survey of 800 affected customers and 40 case studies – including many of you…

We found widespread confusion and a lack of information. On our undercover calls we were repeatedly told to claim a replacement for a nine month old machine from the retailer, but a number of our case studies tried this route and were told to take this up with Whirlpool.

Owners of recalled tumble dryers are faced with unreasonable delays for repairs – delays of six months or more, and this is after the 8-12 week wait for a customer ID to register a repair or recall.

And yet all the while, the advice from Whirlpool has remained that customers may continue to use their fire-risk tumble dryers provided they follow additional manufacturer’s instructions.

Dissatisfaction doesn’t quite cut it for outraged customers like Richard Carbutt:

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, affected customers have been faced with the difficult decision of waiting it out for a repair or paying for a reduced price replacement.

It’s not on.

Action from Whirlpool

So we asked Whirlpool to comment on our findings, it said:

‘The safety of our customers is our number one priority. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that the modification programme is being carried out in a safe and timely manner. The scale of this modification programme is considerable and we’re continually looking into alternative options which will allow us to progress the programme at a faster pace. As a result, we continue to recruit extra engineers and call-centre staff to speed up the modification programme.’

Whirlpool has set up a website for customers to input their dryer’s model details to see if it’s affected. But disappointingly, Whirlpool is yet to published a complete list of the affected models. We have – here’s 127 affected models. We think Whirlpool must take urgent action to put things right and publish the full model list. It’s their customers who are being left with faulty and potentially dangerous goods in their homes, it’s their responsibility to sort it out.

We want Whirlpool to:

  • Clearly list all 127 affected model numbers on the front page of its website with details of how customers can get help.
  • Speed up the process by making it quicker to generate a customer ID number when consumers first make contact with the call centre.
  • Train its call centre staff to offer better advice to affected customers and stop directing them to retailers, who are in turn directing people back to Whirlpool, simply delaying the process.

We’re also calling on the Government to act swiftly to simplify the product recall system.

Following Lynn Faulds Wood’s review into product safety, the Government set up a steering group to take the recommendations forward. We want the Government and the steering group to act quickly to close the loopholes that allow companies to leave consumers without the basic information and advice they need.

If you own a Whirlpool tumble dryer (Indesit, Creda, or Hotpoint) then follow our guide on what to do next.

So have you been affected by this tumble dryer recall? What has your experience been? Do you think Whirlpool are doing enough for their customers?

Comments
Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Looking at today’s piece about Whirlpool on Which?’s website I note Which? are asking Lynn Faulds Woods group to see how the existing law applies. I am surprised that Which? does not itself examine how the law applies. As a Consumer Group I would have thought consumer law was one of the most important expertise it needed in house, particularly as it has its own legal section. At least I would have thought it retained and gave business on a regular basis to an expert consumer lawyer. Application, or the threat, of the law is surely a key weapon in consumers’ armoury?

From my layman’s look at the Sale of Goods Act and the newer Consumer Rights Act (for purchases after Oct 2015) they seem to require that an unsafe product requires replacement, refund or repair without unreasonable inconvenience to the consumer. Is this not sufficient grounds (if I am correct in my understanding) to require Whirlpool to approach their responsibilities in a much less relaxed way. So why not give all customers the immediate replacement option instead of trying to go down the protracted repair route.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Hello Malcolm, you may not have seen, but Simon has responded to your question here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/tumble-dryer-fire-risk-hotpoint-indesit-creda-whirlpool/#comment-1446245

Quoting him for this page:

“Hi Malcolm
I would broadly agree with you but the Government has set up the steering group to do exactly that. While we would imagine that the steering group would look at the laws we mainly want them to assess the product safety regime, taking account of the issues that many customers have experienced with Whirlpool.

“Today I’ve sent over all our evidence that built up our case on this news piece to the Government’s steering group. I can’t imagine this is the last we’ll be doing on product safety, or the Government’s steering group.”

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

@patrick, yes, thanks, saw it after I’d made this post and I have responded.

As I said in my response on the old Convo, I think Which? should act on its own account to decide the legal situation and get Whirlpool to make reasonable offers, not ones that might take 3 years. I am quite happy for part of my subscription to be used to this effect.

The above intro includes “We want the Government and the steering group to act quickly to close the loopholes that allow companies to leave consumers without the basic information and advice they need.”. I agree, but here those affected need direct action on a specific problem. How long will it take for Lynn’s group to sort that out, among their more general remit? I believe Which? has an obligation to its subscribers to apply consumer law to protect them.

Do SoGA and CRA require retailers to act in the way I suggest? Retailers would then, presumably, have to use their own rights to get redress from Whirlpool in principle, but I would assume Whirlpool have taken over the whole process legally.

Member
David Richardson says:
21 May 2016

Well, at least Whirlpool can spell ‘programme’ which Which cannot.

Member
Graham Burt says:
21 May 2016

I’m one of their customers affected and after registering with them I was told it would be August before they could repair mine.
There is an offer of a new machine for £99, surely this would be cheaper for them to give this free immediately rather than have an engineer come out.
Plus is would be good PR and give customer satisfaction

Profile photo of GrahamBurt
Member

Sorry, I missed out that I registered on Jan 5th

Member
P Newbery says:
21 May 2016

Had letter from Whirlpool in mid January to tell me I MAY have one of the affected dryers even though I had registered it when I bought it with model serial number etc. However I checked with them and I did have an affected model and that I should register. I registered and was informed I would have to wait until September before I would be given a possible date for the modification. Mid March and I get an email offering me the option of exchanging my dryer for a new replacement at a cost of £60 and delivery within 7 days. The tumble dryer is my only way of drying clothes and by weighing up the costs of trips to the local launderette and the replacement cost there was no contest. Although I don’t see why I should have to pay for their build problem I think they had me over the proverbial barrel. Replacement did arrive within 7 days. All in all not happy with the solution but needs must. Come on Whirlpool surely it must be cheaper for a large company like yours to give replacements free compared to the costs of engineer training and time involved in carrying out modifications and of the horrendous waiting time.

Member
J.S says:
21 May 2016

I registered my machine on the 23rd November 2015 kept checking when it was likely to be repaired using the online system each month it would change until we got to April now there is no month quoted, luckily we rarely use it. We clean the top filter after each use and check the condenser at the bottom behind the panel as well as that collects small bits of fluff. I think Malcolm is right by asking Which to take out a class action there must be a lot of subscribers willing to participate.

Member
Leigh Thow says:
21 May 2016

I checked their website, registered my 7 year old indesit, which I’d had no problems with. They called me back quickly and arranged delivery of a fantastic new whirlpool tumble drier. I was like WoW this is awesome! The call handlers and engineers were lovely and couldn’t have been more helpful. I had a slight issue with the control dial and an engineer was dispatched quickly, text appointment system and he was great too. No complaints here, new machine which will hopefully last another 7 years with no cost to me.

Member
Christine Terry says:
21 May 2016

I registered my machine on 23rd November2015 and an engineer came out to do the modification on 22nd March.
At the time I was unhappy about the delay and extremely apprehensive using my dryer but I now realise that I am lucky to have had the situation resolved when so many others are still waiting.

Member
Graham Warren says:
21 May 2016

We logged ours in December 2015, in February 2016 we were given a date of August for a repair or buy a new one for £99. We were told it was safe to use providing we didn’t go out or use it overnight ! To me that means it’s unsafe.

We purchased a new one for £99, we felt we had no choice. What would have happened if ours had caught fire, who would pay. Everyone with a dangerous machine should get a free one and not pay £99, waiting nine months for a repair makes the machine unusable.

I would love to know whose paid for repairs to peoples houses after theirs caught fire.

Member
Keith Brooks says:
21 May 2016

I was given the option of waiting to have our tumble dryer repaired, or pay £99 for a new condenser one.
I chose the latter option and it was delivered on the date I requested and the old one taken away.
Happy!

Member
Adrian Faulkner says:
21 May 2016

I went to the Hotpoint web site the day the news broke and gave my machines model number and serial number. The following day I received a response to the effect that my machine was one of those affected and that I would be contacted shortly with a proposal. Three weeks later I received a phone call informing me that a NEW replacement machine would be delivered the next day. It duly was and the old machine was removed. So it appears the sooner you got in contact the sooner you got a good service.Perhaps there is a lesson to be leart here. I was most happy with the service I got.

Member
Graham Poole says:
21 May 2016

Our daughter took the £99 option even though she couldn’t really afford it but with a young child in house she couldn’t afford to risk the quoted eight month wait. She had previously experienced problems with the drier when it melted a cot duvet. She thought it was a problem with the washing/drying instructions on the duvet and managed to get a free replacement from Mothercare. She was very lucky it hadn’t caught fire. She’s very happy with the replacement but I had to drive 35 miles each way just to be in for delivery of the replacement so much inconvenience!

Member
jon says:
22 May 2016

contacted them last november. they replied saying I would have to wait till October for an engineer to call.
I could buy a replacement from them for a discounted price though. When I asked why I couldnt have it for free as my original one was still under guarantee, was told that wasnt an option.
One other thing, I said to the call centre operater that I may record the conversation (as they do) I was told that he would “put the phone down and terminate the call”

Member
Pete prager says:
22 May 2016

I bought in 2015, heard about the issue on the news and phoned in Feb 16, told about three months before they would get to me. Then received an email asking if I wanted to replace it, costing me £99, I should have returned it unfit for use. Now I have recieved a letter stating that they won’t get to me till Sept 16 and the offer is still on. We now use it very infrequently, defluff regularly after every event and only use when somebody is around we do not need or want a fire. Not particularly what I would call an item I want to use. If it was a car, recall action would have happened straight away. They have lost any creditable they had in my eyes and I for one will not be buying from any of their product lines again.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Pete’s comments prompt the thought that Whirlpool and the retailers have been very lucky that it is not exactly an easy matter to return a tumble drier, unlike, say, a kettle or a toaster.

Member
Chris Town says:
23 May 2016

Having heard nothing from Whirlpool for months I had a letter apologising for the delay and offering a replacement condensing dryer for £99, I took this option and a couple of weeks later a brand new dryer arrived at a considerable discount, why can’t they offer everyone this option?

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

It seems to split up relevant comments when we have two conversations running in parallel on the same issue. We have
25 FEBRUARY 2016 / HOME & ENERGY
Update: Is your tumble dryer a fire-risk?

and now this one with similar comments being presented on both. Would it not be preferable to merge the conversations?

Many contributors have asked questions on the earlier Convo which have not been answered. For example:

This seems like a consumer legal problem that consumer law might resolve. I would be grateful if Which? could answer the legal questions that have been asked. If the retailers (who are responsible for these appliances) do not take effective action to meet their obligations under SoGA and CRA, or if Whirlpool have contractually taken on all the retailers obligations as seems the case, then an action by Which? on behalf of affected consumers to get repair, refund or replace without unreasonable inconvenience (so quickly)would seem to me to be the next step. It seems at the moment we are prepared to allow consumers to be inconvenienced, but not the manufacturer.

I do realise that Lynn Faulds Wood’s group are looking at recalls, but can we expect any action soon and are they specifically looking at resolving the Whirlpool problem?

Member
Jayne M says:
23 May 2016

As my affected Hotpoint is a few years old, I would happily take up the offer of the £99 new condenser model, but I cannot find any reviews available on the models that are on offer. They don’t even appear on the company’s website! There is online talk (Martins Money Saving Expert) that they are old models, or could even be reconditioned, and it might be difficult to get parts for them in the future. As the Hotpoint tumble drier I purchased was a Which best buy – any advice Which could offer to their consumers on this would be very much appreciated. I have emailed Which directly, but although sympathetic, I didn’t receive any concrete advice. The models offered to me (condenser) were Whirlpool TDWSF83BEZ, Hotpoint TDWSF83BEP, Hotpoint TCHL73BRP. I am sure I am not alone in being confused and hoping that Which would investigate this on our behalf, as a matter of priority?

Profile photo of KennethWatt
Member

So far none of those models show any availability of spare parts at all across all major UK spares outlets.

It may be that they are new models, often you won’t see parts info until they exit warranty or thereabouts.

If they were old models, parts would show up.

K.

Member
Jayne Mackin says:
2 June 2016

Thanks Ken, with no guidance from Which, I guess I will just have to pick one of the hat then!

Member
Mick says:
31 May 2016

We were offered a lengthy wait for repair or replacement for £99. All our kitchen appliances are black Indesit to match our kitchen but t they will not replace with a black one – it is white or repair, even though we offered to pay extra. Why no replacement in same colour when we had already paid extra for black items originally?

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Which? news 31/5 says
“New Which? research can reveal that Whirlpool……contacted trading standards to let it know about the problem on 27th August 2015. But it wasn’t until 23rd Nov 2015 that news of the risk these driers could pose was made public by Whirlpool.”

Read more: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2016/05/whirlpool-took-months-to-go-public-on-dryer-fires-442629/ – Which?

Which? also have said:
“In this situation, Trading Standards have primary responsibility for enforcing product safety laws. Whirlpool has agreed to a set of actions with Trading Standards and are obliged to comply with that agreement, but are not obliged to recall the products. Due to the scale of the issue, we think that consumers are likely to get the quickest solution by pursuing their claims directly with Whirlpool rather than through their retailer or the courts.”

So are Trading Standards then negligent in not ensuring the danger was made known earlier? And are the actions agreed with Trading Standards the ones that seem to cause owners (very) unreasonable inconvenience to say the least? And why is the “quickest solution” pursuing Whirlpool directly when Which? have have estimated it could take 3 years or more to complete repairs?

I have to wonder, and ask, just where does consumer protection figure in all of this? I wonder what our (for now) Continental consumer associations are doing about this? Is this not an ideal consumer issue for the consumer groups to act together and force a proper settlement? Whirlpool of course is a US company…………………

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

“Leon Livermore, chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, is urging the Government to use its powers to force the US based company to act now and save lives.” http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ministers-should-force-whirlpool-recall-8084427

That should have happened months ago. Mr Livermore might like to explain why Trading Standards did not act sooner when Whirlpool notified them of the problem. Mr Livermore also said: “So we would call on the Government, in particular the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, to take action before someone dies.” People have died and others made homeless.

Still, it’s good to see that someone else thinks that government should be in charge.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I am surprised that agreements between ‘Trading Standards’ and manufacturers over serious safety concerns, possible recalls, and guidance to owners, are allowed to be classified as secret. Who are ‘Trading Standards’ supposed to be protecting?

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Exactly. We need to know what Trading Standards have agreed to, and why.

This letter to BIS is interesting. Trading Standards seem happy with Whirlpool’s actions. So that’s alright then.

https://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/business-innovation-and-skills/Correspondence/2015-20-Parliament/Whirlpool-response-25022016.pdf

I’d also like to know why Which? say “consumers are likely to get the quickest solution by pursuing their claims directly with Whirlpool” having estimated that will take “up to” 3 1/2 years to get a repair.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Thanks for posting that link Malcolm. I am dismayed at the way that the trading standards function in this country has been allowed [or forced] to become more and more invisible. The appendix to Whirlpool’s letter, being a statement by ‘UK Trading Standards’, refers to the ‘local authority’ but it does not name the authority. Perhaps UKTS [if it exists in more than virtual form] sees itself as a local authority in its own right; perhaps it is a phantom cover organisation that operates clandestinely through an underground network of council officers which enjoys a cosy relationship with major companies that they do not wish to compromise. Who knows? All very opaque.

County councils, metropolitan district councils and London borough councils seem to have trading standards departments but they concentrate on their statutory weights & measures responsibilities and no longer offer a public presence for consumer protection services. For that you have to go through Citizens Advice which acts as a gatekeeper. Local trading standards do appear to deal with consumer complaints [referred through CABx] and they carry out inspection and enforcement duties but not on the scale they used to. If people are worried about how they’ve been dealt with by a car dealer they are probably better off posting it here.

We used to have a Trading Standards Officer contributing to Which? Conversation [under his own auspices, not as an official representative] but we have not heard from him for a long time now unfortunately. The consumer protection landscape has changed so much in the last few years and there is now not even a minister in the government with that exclusive portfolio. This is a creeping but deliberate deterioration of an essential public service and I think it would be a good idea if Which? carried out an investigation into what has happened, why, and what the consequences are, so we can challenge the government on its policy.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

I wonder if you paid for an affected drier with a credit card you can claim under section 75, if you are not being made an acceptable offer to repair or replace?

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I think it would be worth taking a test case to Court.

When appliances are found to be hazardous, and in the case of Whirlpool tumble dryers they have been found to be exceptionally so, companies should not be able to insist on replacing the faulty products only with their own models and brands but should either contract with other manufacturers to replace the products for a quicker resolution, or pay the owner enough to enable them to replace the appliance with an alternative of their choice. There would need to be evidence of disposal with the latter suggestion.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
Member

Just a thought that came to me about Whirlpool actually selling machines that were faulty AFTER they were aware of the problem.

On a grander scale:
” Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI), Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) and Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T) are still selling new vehicles with defective air bags that will eventually need to be recalled, according to a report by a U.S. lawmaker overseeing the agency handling the largest-ever auto safety recall.
Automakers confirmed they are continuing to sell some vehicles with ammonium-nitrate inflators without a chemical drying agent, and cited engineering and supply challenges to explain why they are still relying on the faulty airbags.
The vehicles are legal to sell but must be recalled by 2018. Legal experts said that based on previous cases, it was unclear if there could be additional legal liability for selling vehicles subject to future recalls, though if anything goes wrong with those vehicles, they could be subject to product-liability lawsuits.”
Reuters June 1st 2016

Member
Jayne Mackin says:
2 June 2016

I agree John. As I stated in an email above, the only reason I purchased mine was because of a Which? best buy recommendation. That’s why I pay my subscription every year. None of the other replacement appliances being offered by Whirlpool have been tested or reviewed, so I would be in no mans lands accepting one of these. I’m totally perplexed as to whether to accept the offer, wait for a repair, or now… take whirlpool to court! Can we not as consumers (under the banner of Which?) take this forward in a more constructive way?

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

My opinion, Jayne, for what it’s worth, is that it would be in your interests to start legal proceedings. I am not a lawyer so cannot forecast an outcome, but I sense – partly from the tone of the letter from Whirlpool shown by a link in Malcolmr’s comments above – that the company would probably wish to avoid a trial and might be inclined to settle with you [probably on the basis of a confidentiality agreement]. A short and inexpensive consultation with a solicitor would probably indicate whether there was any mileage in this route. Of course, there remains the possibility that, having secured the complicity and agreement of Trading Standards to their proposed way out of their liabilities, Whirlpool might brook no further argument and resist you all the way.

Member
Jayne Mackin says:
2 June 2016

I don’t think I could seriously consider that John. Much as I’d love the excitement, I don’t have either the money, or the stamina – I’m just a middle-aged lady from rural England wanting to dry my undies without fear of the house burning down!!!!

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

Jayne, do you belong to Which? Legal. If so i’d ask them. I think it is time Which? took a stand on this Whirlpool fiasco. I have asked them for their view on how consumers are protected by the Sale of Goods and Consumer Rights Acts. As far as I interpret them an unsafe appliance should be replaced, repaired or refunded without unreasonable inconvenience to the customer. The last bit seems the key issue to me. Whirlpool should be made to deal with all faulty machines promptly. it may cost them a lot of money but they bought the defective machine companies – Hotpoint, Indesit etc – no doubt to increase their profits. They also bought this problem and are legally obliged to deal with it, I believe.

Which? have not responded with their view. Their website simply says “consumers are likely to get the quickest solution by pursuing their claims directly with Whirlpool” . I am not impressed if that is the limit of their involvement.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

OK, Jayne, I am not surprised, but before dropping the legal route, take at look at your household insurance policy and see if you have legal expenses cover and whether this sort of action might be eligible.

Well, you’ve Asked the Audience but you still have two lifelines left – ‘Accept the Offer’ and ‘Wait for a Repair’, so good luck.

Next week on “Who Wants to Own a Tumble Dryer?” . . . Chris from Reading.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

@patrick, have you yet heard from BSI (or have Which? looked at their copies of the relevant BSEN standards) to see if current standards are defective in dealing with the possibility of fire (including fluff reaching the heating element)?

Do Which? know if affected driers met, or failed to meet, the requirements of relevant standards for fire risk?

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Hello, I’ve been in touch with the British Standards Institute to ask them to answer your questions. They have responded with the following information. I hope it’s helpful:

1. Washing Machines – shattering glass doors. What does the BS EN say about the type of glass and tests to demonstrate the safety of the glass?

Standard 60335-2-7 clause 7.12
20.1 Modification: The appliance is empty or filled as specified for normal operation, whichever is more unfavourable. Doors and lids are closed and any castors turned to the most unfavourable position.

20.102 Appliances shall not be adversely affected by an unbalanced load.
Compliance is checked by the following test. The appliance is placed on a horizontal support and a load having a mass of 0,2 kg or 10 % of the maximum mass of the cloth specified in the instructions, whichever is greater, is fixed to the inside wall of the drum half-way along its length. The appliance is supplied at rated voltage and operated during the water extraction period. The test is carried out four times, the load being moved each time through an angle of 90° around the wall of the drum. The appliance shall not overturn and the drum shall not hit other parts except the enclosure. After the test, the appliance shall be fit for further use.

20.101 For appliances of the drum type, the drum drive motor shall be de-energized before the opening of the lid or door exceeds 50 mm. If a removable or sliding lid is provided, the motor shall be de-energized as soon as the lid is removed or displaced and it shall not be possible to start the motor unless the lid is in the closed position. Compliance is checked by measurement and inspection.

20.103 For appliances of the drum type, it shall only be possible to energize the drum drive motor when the lid or door is in the closed position. Compliance is checked by inspection and by manual test using test probe B of IEC 61032 in an attempt to override the locking function.

20.104 It shall not be possible to open the lid or door of an appliance while the drum speed exceeds 60 r/min. Compliance is checked by the following test. The appliance is supplied at rated voltage and operated empty or filled as specified for normal operation, whichever is more unfavourable. The force determined during the test of 22.104 with the lid or door locked is applied to the lid or door in an attempt to open it. It shall not be possible to open the lid or door while the drum speed exceeds 60 r/min.

20 Stability and mechanical hazards
This clause of Part 1 is applicable except as follows.
20.1 Modification: The appliance is empty or filled as specified for normal operation, whichever is more unfavourable. Doors and lids are closed and any castors turned to the most unfavourable position.
20.101 For appliances of the drum type, the drum drive motor shall be de-energized before the opening of the lid or door exceeds 50 mm. If a removable or sliding lid is provided, the motor shall be de-energized as soon as the lid is removed or displaced and it shall not be possible to start the motor unless the lid is in the closed position. Compliance is checked by measurement and inspection.

20.102 Appliances shall not be adversely affected by an unbalanced load.
Compliance is checked by the following test. The appliance is placed on a horizontal support and a load having a mass of 0,2 kg or 10 % of the maximum mass of the cloth specified in the instructions, whichever is greater, is fixed to the inside wall of the drum half-way along its length. The appliance is supplied at rated voltage and operated during the water extraction period. The test is carried out four times, the load being moved each time through an angle of 90° around the wall of the drum. The appliance shall not overturn and the drum shall not hit other parts except the enclosure. After the test, the appliance shall be fit for further use.

20.103 For appliances of the drum type, it shall only be possible to energize the drum drive motor when the lid or door is in the closed position. Compliance is checked by inspection and by manual test using test probe B of IEC 61032 in an attempt to override the locking function.

20.104 It shall not be possible to open the lid or door of an appliance while the drum speed exceeds 60 r/min. Compliance is checked by the following test. The appliance is supplied at rated voltage and operated empty or filled as specified for normal operation, whichever is more unfavourable. The force determined during the test of 22.104 with the lid or door locked is applied to the lid or door in an attempt to open it. It shall not be possible to open the lid or door while the drum speed exceeds 60 r/min.

21 Mechanical strength

This clause of Part 1 is applicable except as follows.
21.101 Lids and doors shall have adequate mechanical strength.
Compliance is checked by the test of 21.101.1 for lids and 21.101.2 for doors. 21.101.1 A rubber hemisphere having a diameter of 70 mm and a hardness between 40 IRHD and 50 IRHD is fixed to a cylinder having a mass of 20 kg and dropped from a height of 100 mm onto the centre of the lid.
The test is carried out three times, after which the lid shall not be damaged to such an extent that moving parts become accessible.

21.101.2 A vertically downwards force of 150 N is applied in the most unfavourable position to the door while it is open at an angle of 90° ± 5°. The force is maintained for 1 min.
After the test, the appliance shall not be damaged or deformed to such an extent that compliance with 20.103 and 20.104 is impaired.

21.102 Lids shall have adequate resistance to distortion.
} ~
Compliance is checked by the following test.
A force of 50 N is applied to the open lid in the most unfavourable direction and position.
The test is carried out three times, after which the hinges shall not have worked loose and the appliance shall not be damaged or deformed to such an extent that compliance with 20.10 3 and 20.104 is impaired. } ~

22 Construction
This clause of Part 1 is applicable except as follows.
22.6 Modification to the requirement:
The requirement relating to leakage from containers, hoses, couplings and similar parts of the appliance is not applicable to parts that withstand the ageing test specified in Annex BB.

2. Tumble Driers: Whirlpool safety: what does the BS EN say about the precautions to avoid fluff getting onto hot parts and possibly causing a fire?

Standard 60335-2-7 clauses 20,21 & 22
The instructions for use shall state – the maximum mass of dry textile material in kilograms to be used in the appliance; – that the tumble dryer is not to be used if industrial chemicals have been used for cleaning; – that the lint trap has to be cleaned frequently, if applicable; – that lint must not to be allowed to accumulate around the tumble dryer (not applicable for appliances intended to be vented to the exterior of the building); – that adequate ventilation has to be provided to avoid the back flow of gases into the room from appliances burning other fuels, including open fires.

Member
Shan Lancaster says:
1 July 2016

I registered my Hotpoint tumble dryer as one of the models in need of repair as it was on their fire risk list and got a brief acknowledgement. Five months later, this week, I got a message saying that they would be arranging a repair next April 2017.
They said if I was not happy to wait I should buy a new one at some kind of discount.
I don’t want a new one, just a safe one.

Member
Jean Bell says:
1 September 2016

They can’t even get an engineer out to me to fix a button on my machine. ( 3rd time in a year)
God only knows how they are going to fix this mess!!!!!!

Member
Fay Smith says:
21 September 2016

I had an engineer call on Saturday only to tell me that my dryer is on the “unrepairable” list (it is an Aquarius). I don’t know what to do now. I went to currys but got nowhere. I am in need of my dryer but I don’t see why I should pay £99 pounds for a manufacturer design fault. Can you help please? Regards Fay Smith.

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Was this an “official” Whirlpool inspection? If not you need to involve them. If it was, and if your drier is under 6 years old (5 in Scotland) the Sale of Goods Act applies. This says (in the event of a pre-existing fault which is a failure of the retailer to meet their contract):”return the goods and rescind the contract. This would mean that the customer returns the goods and you ( retailer or manufacturer in this case ) provide a partial refund, calculated to reflect the benefit the customer has received from the product.” Providing a new drier for £99 may well reflect this – if you’ve already had several years use from the dryer. If your drier is older than 6 years I’d snap up a £99 offer as your SoGA legal protection has expired.

If offered the £99 dryer, I would accept it. However a case put to Which? is from someone who accepted a £99 drier that proved to have a fault on first use. Whirlpool are only prepared to refund the £99, whereas a view is that CRA requires them to repair, refund or replace at the choice of the purchaser. I am trying to persuade Which? to give their view on this.

These are my opinions. It would be useful if Which? provided an expert view.

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On the Which? Member Community there is what I find a frustrating series of exchanges where Which? cannot advise on Whirlpool tumble dryers. It seems to be concerned to make representations on the issues of delay and product recalls, but is ignoring the current plight of individual dryer owners waiting for action. It regards the “legal situation” as “not straightforward”.

However, one correspondent bought a “replacement” dryer for £99. It stopped working properly first time of use. Whirlpool only offered a £99 refund, not a replacement drier. CRA says the buyer has the choice. So why is this not “legally straightforward”?

On the wider issue, owners have, by Whirlpool’s admission, dryers that are unsafe and require “remedy”. Any dryer under 6 years old that is unsafe fails to meet SoGA’s compliance with contract requirement. It should be repaired or refunded at the owner’s choice, with a refund scaled down according to the benefit (use) the owner has already had. This should also be done without unreasonable inconvenience. So why is this not “legally straightforward?”.

The fact that this happens on a large scale is surely irrelevant – it is simply made up of a lot of similar individual cases.

Is the problem that Peterborough Trading Standards have become involved and let Whirlpool off the hook, thus denying individual legal rights?

Which?, as a consumer champion, should be dealing with the consumers problems here surely. so why the unwillingness to sort out their immediate problems based on their legal rights? This needs explaining.

Member
Eleanor Leslie says:
4 November 2016

Accepted replacement model TDWSF 83B EPZ. It is worse than useless. Have never had condenser drier previously so have persevered for 7 months. It smells of burning and doesn’t dry clothes. Have had 3 engineers out all of whom accepted there was a burning smell but Hotpoint are still dragging their heels. Their customer service is abysmal and I’m scared to use the appliance in case it goes on fire but as I said it doesn’t dry clothes anyhow. I have looked on-line and others who have received the same replacemnt dyer for £99 are having the same problems. I think after using tumble dryers for the last 40 years I know how to operate them! I just want a machine that works safely.

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If there is a burning smell there is something seriously wrong, Eleanor. If you carry on using your dryer you could have a serious fire. My suggestion is to go for a heat pump tumble dryer which is the only type that does not have a powerful electric heater and should be much safer.

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The Register My Appliance website makes it easy for you to do this and you will ONLY be contacted in the event of a recall – no marketing or sales emails.

As an added incentive, many leading appliance manufacturers are offering customers who register their appliances from now up to 19th January 2017 the chance to win a range of luxury home and lifestyle prizes. No purchase is necessary – you can also register the electrical products you already own to be in with a chance to win.

Visit registermyappliance.org.uk to find out more, register your electrical products and make your home a safer place.

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I totally agree. This website is run by AMDEA – the trade association for manufacturers of domestic electrical appliances. Some object to a trade body being involved. My view is that it offers a necessary service and why should the industry not fill this gap with a much needed service. Would someone else like to do it instead?

However, the deficiency is that registration is not compulsory. We need that for a service to be properly effective and this registration is best done at the point of sale; probably the only place it can be reliably done. With a “no marketing” pledge – use the personal information only for recall and similar purposes. The sooner we get something up and running the better.

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Maybe the offer of a luxury home and lifestyle prizes might suggest other motives. 🙂

Action is undoubtedly needed. The EC Rapex database provides comprehensive information about recalls and has a searchable database. I have previously explained how information could be passed on to owners of new and secondhand products via a government managed service. It works well for car recalls.

With an increasing number of products being bought online, compulsory registration is not going to work, though I have no objection to people taking up this offer. I want a comprehensive and easy to use service that is independent of companies.

AMDEA will not help with dangerous car seats, phone chargers or the vast majority of goods we buy. Maybe they could discourage their members from using plastics that melt or burn in the cases of their appliances.

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The government have said they do not intend to set up the service; they want someone else to do it. AMDEA quite rightly registers the products that its members deal with. Full marks to them for helping. They are supported by the Government, RoSPA, Citizens Advice, Age UK, Electrical Safety First among others. They also belong to BSI committees that deal with product safety and performance so presumably actively engage with processes to make things better. Better perhaps if other interested parties did the same? Home electrical appliances do form, I suggest, quite a large part of what we buy that might have safety problems but certainly a scheme needs to encompass all products that could pose a safety risk.

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We would be in a poor state if we just accepted the views of government (this or others). In my view, the most constructive move has been the setting up of a comprehensive EC database covering products on sale to the public.

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A database is only half the problem and is of little use on its own. And having a database is of no use if people don’t visit it – and the vast majority I suspect do not. Just as we see in energy (non) switching people frequently do not take action to benefit themselves.

A compulsory registration scheme is essential if we want people properly protected. Use that with a comprehensive database and we have the basis for a constructive way forward.

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I have on more than one occasion explained how information about recalls could be forwarded to the owners of products. With respect, I consider that a constructive way forward.

I really don’t see compulsory registration, for example with goods sold by Amazon and their Marketplace traders. They sell many appliances.

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If you don’t know who has bought appliances how can you “forward them” information about recalls. Compulsory registration, which is what happens with cars, ensures that all who might be affected are, as far as is possible, notified. I don’t see what is a problem with that.

If you buy through Amazon they will automatically have the details of where the product will be delivered. On line purchasing already provides the necessary personal details.

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Here is my suggestion:

– Consumers could register their purchases on an independent secure website. An easy way to provide details of the make, model and serial number would be to scan a QR code with a mobile phone. For those who don’t have a smartphone, they could type in the details and registration by phone or post would be other possibilities. Registration via Facebook might be another way to collect product details.

– This system would allow people to delete products they have disposed of and for people to register secondhand products, for example the mobile phone they have bought from a friend or the washing machine bought from a charity shop.

If consumers would like the option of retailers or manufacturers providing information, that’s another possibility, but not one I am keen on using.

Having an online record of products that we own could be very useful to anyone who has to make an insurance claim – after a fire, for example.

I’m not sure that I would trust Amazon to engage with product registration, especially where their Marketplace traders are involved.

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Many people will simply not voluntarily do what you suggest. They are even less likely to delete registered products. Many will not have access to the internet and won’t bother to post documents. We know how “sticky” people are.

The simple solution surely that requires virtually no effort on the customers part is to deal with it automatically at the point of sale when the retailer doea all the work and subnmits the information to an independent database. The customer can refuse – their prerogative – but might have a problem with insurance if their appliance would have been recalled had they registered.

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Many said they would never carry around mobile phones or use online banking but both have been fairly successful.

We have made our points and maybe others will join in.

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I have been registering products with the manufacturers for decades. I have never received any marketing material that I could directly link with those registrations. I have never received any recall notices either.

I strongly support a registration system that easily captures data at the point of sale and records it in a way that the purchaser can subsequently access and edit if necessary [product disposed of, change of address, new e-mail address, telephone no., etc.].

I have a list of all our domestic appliances and equipment with their serial nos., source, purchase date, etc. but that is too administrative for most people and I wouldn’t expect them to want to do that. An easy way is to keep all the user manuals together and write the data plate details on the front cover as well as the date of purchase.

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What I have in mind is a system based on QR codes. These are in widespread use now and appear on many household appliances, either for internal use or for use by service engineers. Which? has been using them occasionally in the magazine for the past few years. It as easy as taking a photo with a phone or tablet and will take you to the relevant website and hopefully deposit all the information. Barcodes became a standard way of identifying products and prices and QR codes are more versatile. The first time an individual used their own secure website page, a customer would need to enter their contact details, just as they would do when opening an online account or ordering online.

If we can agree the need for storing the details of our goods in a single secure location, then the information could be transferred by the retailer or the owner – freedom of choice. We regularly hear of organisations having security problems, and that is one reason I am reluctant to give my contact details to more organisations than necessary.

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“Widespread use” does not include everyone, and possibly not most of them – particularly the elderly. A system that requires a positive action from the consumer in a safety issue is bad in that many people will not bother. A system where people are automatically registered but can opt out is far safer. Even then we must remember that a safety issue can involve fire that will affect not only the owner, but maybe their family, visitors and neighbours so choosing not to register can imperil others. That seems wrong. It may also invalidate house insurance. I think we need to treat such safety issues seriously.

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I did suggest that registration could be done in other ways, but why not take advantage of technology where possible?

Companies holding our contact details could become prime targets for data, and it is well established that this is used by unscrupulous organisations that make nuisance calls and send spam. If a way can be devised of automatic registration without passing on customers’ details then I would be happy with that, but there is little chance that registration of online purchases will happen in the foreseeable future. As you have told me many times, we need to be realistic in our explanations.

Regarding the danger of fire, I was hoping that you might pass on my concerns to BSI about the use of plastics in appliance casings, on the basis that you have worked in standards and have access to the relevant documents. The number of photos online showing plastics that have been destroyed in appliance fires (thereby failing to contain the fire) is surely cause for concern that the standards are either unsatisfactory or there is a problem with compliance.

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“why not take advantage of technology where possible?” .Presumably this could apply to other matters such as switching energy suppliers? However I suspect if you ask many people what a QR code is and what to do with it you would not find universal understanding. You should not need to be technically savvy to do such things. Why make it complicated and selective? It will defeat the whole purpose to ensure as many people as possible register without effort.

However, I think we’ve had our say. It is something Which? have an interest in and I’d like to hear what proposals they are making to the Govt BIS to get this out of a talking shop and into practice.

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A QR code is not dissimilar to a barcode. Few of us would have engaged with the technology until supermarkets introduced barcodes and then self-service checkouts.

As I said, I envisage other ways in which details of product ownership could be recorded so that we can be notified of recalls. I have also said that provided that there is some way of preventing our contact details being passed to companies, then I am happy with registration at the point of sale. I am keen to continue discussion of the need to inform people of recalls and important safety information and how we can best achieve this. This Convo seems the most appropriate place at present.

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I’m simply saying that rather than repeating the same points, we put together (perhaps Which? represents the “we”) all the suggestions so far made, keep adding new ones, discuss their pros and cons, and we might end up with a possible proposal that actually begins to get the means to achieve a recall system.

I don’t believe a system that covers everything from day one is feasible. We need to start in a way that exposes weaknesses and problems that can be made good so a more robust system can result – particularly as large-scale software solutions seem prone to problems. Personally I would start with those products that seem most at risk for the majority – maybe electrical domestic appliances.

Back to the topic – Whirlpool dryers – had all purchasers had their essential contact details taken when they bought their appliance they could have been informed of the problem promptly, and would have known whether their particular dryer was one of the affected ones. Instead many may never know if they have a potentially dangerous dryer, many have had to search to see whether theirs is affected, Whirlpool are left not having a full picture of where all affected owners are. We need to avoid this mess in future.

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We (us and also other Convo members) are good at repeating the same points. Accommodating other points of view can do a lot to advance the discussion.

Domestic appliances are often identified as causes of fires in the home and perhaps we should explore some of the reasons. When looking round houses at the start of the year, I was surprised that not one had an alarm in the kitchen or utility room. Smoke alarms can be a nuisance but I can press a button to silence it or take it out of the room if cooking sets it off, and I have a heat detector which would warn of the need to evacuate. Fire services repeatedly warn not to leave appliances running overnight but some manufacturers provide a delay start feature, encouraging use overnight.

I have mentioned the use of plastic in control panels and tops of appliances on a number of occasions. I visited a local electrical retailer to investigate use of plastics in the cases of tumble dryers and washing machines. Apart from a small Indesit model, every one had a plastic top. I forgot to take a small neodymium magnet to discover if the plastic was backed with steel, which could have helped contain a fire. Would you agree that use of plastics in casings including control panels and top panels is inadvisable unless mounted on steel that could contain a fire?

Alerting people to safety issues is essential, but I believe that there are many related issues that urgently need to be investigated. I wonder if the committee that maintains the current relevant standards has investigated used tumble dryers to find out why fires occur and what can be done to reduce the number. Simply looking at unused products and simulating fault conditions is not enough, in my view.

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John mentioned not having received marketing material after registering products. This does not mean that contact details are not used to market unrelated products and services via email and phone calls. It is well established that lists are sold.

It would be obvious if companies selling white goods were using contact details to market similar goods but if the marketing related to holidays, cars, etc. we would not know. The problem of marketing email can be systematically investigated by using different email addresses for different purposes.

Our small charity has been targeted by companies that sell products and services that may be useful to voluntary organisations. Most of this has been email, with follow up emails when I have not responded. One company left a message asking me to get in touch and then called again. When I asked how they had got our contact details, I was told it was because we had received a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The award was made to a large charitable trust that we work closely with, and our contact details were not included in the funding bid. It appears that someone must have followed one of the press reports that wrongly stated that our organisation had received the grant, looked up our contact details on the website and we have ended up on a list that has been circulated to companies that target charities.

I am strongly opposed to letting companies have contact details. A common game is to offer an extended warranty or the opportunity to win a prize as a benefit of registration.

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I contacted a well known fire brigade for information about the number of fires caused by different types of tumble dryer. I thought this might support my hypothesis that heat pump dryers are probably safer because they don’t have a high temperature heater, whereas condenser and vented dryers do. Unfortunately there was no information about fires caused by heat pump dryers.

I have no immediate plans to buy a tumble dryer, but the only type I would now consider is a heat pump type. They use less energy and no doubt the price will fall if they become more popular.

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We have a condenser tumble drier but it is not routinely used. In nice weather we use the rotary clothes line in the garden, and at other times use a clothes horse in the warm kitchen and, if necessary, the central heating radiators. Seems to keep pace with our needs.

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I try to hang out washing if I can. Failing that it goes in a bathroom and airing cupboard. About the only time I used my tumble dryer was when I had visitors staying or if the weather had let me down. Of course, not everyone has a garden and drying indoors can cause condensation and more serious damp problems, so there is certainly a need for tumble dryers, especially with large families and those living in flats and apartments that lack a drying room.

Heat pump dryers or – as you suggested – conventional dryers with lower temperature heaters might make our lives safer.

Member
Fiona Young says:
21 November 2016

I’m still waiting for someone to contact me, registered mine after searching my model on website, told it would be November!!! Oh, its November and I’m still using mine, cautiously, also think its unfair to offer replacements at a cost to us customers, why should we pay for their mistake? I’m getting fed up now. If or WHEN I have a fire in my kitchen, how safe am I? I’m in a 3 storey house with the kitchen at the back as a single storey. The smoke alarm is quite a long way from the drier in the corner of the kitchen and with winter coming, five of us living here!!! I used to put the drier on and go to bed, on the top floor, now I’m having to sit on a stool and watch my families clothes dry??? I actually have better things to do, apart from working, I have a life, rant over, feel better, need to go check my kitchens not on FIRE

Member
Veronica. Johnston says:
23 December 2016

I have had two replacement dryers. 1st one was only putting out cold air. 3 visits from engineers to no avail . Very rude when I asked for a specific time, told to ask a neighbour to let the engineer in. The 2nd dryer takes hrs and the towels are still damp. Should have kept my recol Dryer. It actually dryed the washing.
Sent an e mail saying the dryer was not drying efficiently over a week ago. No reply. Fed up.!

Member
susan james says:
11 January 2017

I have made 15 telephone and numerous visits to their website opting for the reduced price new replacement, each time ‘its not available’ and I am instructed to try again -no luck -telephone calls are not replied to -emails to managers are not responded to – so I am shortly going to register for a’small claims order’ and shall request that all my money be refunded. I am disabled and need a working tumble dryer and am unable to constantly ‘watch’my machine