It’s been three years since we first published our concerns with Whirlpool’s tumble dryer safety fault affecting five million of its machines in the UK, yet we still have serious concerns with the company’s handling of the issue.
Our concerns centre on two key aspects of the modification programme, rolled out by Whirlpool in response to the safety issue:
Firstly, we were extremely disappointed to learn that, according to the company’s latest estimate, there could still be up to 500,000 at-risk (unmodified) machines in homes across the UK.
This means thousands of people with potentially dangerous products that they use every day in their homes.
These machines need to be found. Whirlpool must identify and make safe these fire-risk appliances as a matter of urgency. Do you agree the company should be doing more to reach affected customers?
Secondly, since we first uncovered concerns with the modification in April 2018, we’ve heard from Whirlpool customers who have told us that they have experienced issues with their supposedly made-safe, modified dryers, including fires and smoke.
In some cases, the customer has provided evidence to us suggesting that the problem was caused by the same issue that the modification was designed to stop.
It’s worth emphasising at this point however that, given unmodified machines are an established fire-risk, we would still urge people who are yet to have their dryer modified to contact Whirlpool and arrange to have the fix applied to your appliance.
We’re publishing the concerning stories that people have told us they have experienced involving modified dryers producing flames, smoke or burning smells, because we want the regulator, the Office for Product Safety and Standards, to look into these cases as part of its ongoing inquiry and to swiftly establish whether the modification is fit for purpose.
Nine months on from the launch of the inquiry, we’re yet to see any progress. Should it really be taking this long to resolve a serious safety issue?
Check your machine
In the meantime, if you’re unsure about whether your machine requires the fix, you can check using the free-to-use Which? tumble dryer checker tool.
If your dryer has a green sticker on the inside of the door towards the top (either on the door itself or the door rim) or on the machine’s back panel, it’s not part of the safety alert or has already been repaired.
If it doesn’t, you can check whether your appliance requires the fix by entering your machine’s model code into our tumble dryer checker tool.
We’d be keen to hear from you if your model is one of those that requires modifying to understand what more Whirlpool and the regulator could be doing to reach people.
If your appliance has already been modified and you see any signs of smoke, burning or fire when using it, you should report it immediately to the manufacturer.
If this is something that you have already experienced, I’d be hugely grateful if you would be willing to share your story in the comments below.
If you would prefer to do this confidentially, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org