The safety of tumble dryers manufactured by the company “Whirlpool” has been under the spotlight for some time. Since 2004, at least 750 fires have been caused across the UK due to faults in the dryers. Despite calls from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee (BEIS) and MP’s to address the issue, hundreds of household electrical fires are being caused by them every year.
There have been calls on the government to overhaul the “flawed and poorly resourced” safety regime for electrical goods, which MP’s claim is to blame for these potentially dangerous appliances being allowed to be bought and used by the public. They are also urging Whirlpool to repair all the faulty machines within two weeks of a concern being raised, as they have a responsibility as the manufacturer to ensure the safety of their customers.
MP’s on the BEIS have urged for changes to be made for some time, and have expressed their concerns over the fact that close to a million defective Whirlpool tumble dryers remain in UK homes two years after the fault was discovered. They have also criticised the company for its decision not to recall any of the items, which pose the risk of catching on fire. The risk also applies to some older dryers sold under the Hotpoint, Creda, Indesit, ProLine and Swan brands names, and some consumers are unaware that their products could be dangerous.
“Whirlpool’s woeful response to the defect in its tumble dryers has caused huge worry to people with these appliances in their homes” said Labour MP Rachel Reeves, who chairs the committee. “Their delayed and dismissive response to correcting these defects has been inadequate and we call on Whirlpool to resolve issues urgently. Whirlpool must once and for all put an end to the unacceptable situation where a million machines are acting as potential fire hazards in people’s homes.”
She said Whirlpool’s response highlighted flaws in the UK’s product safety regime “which is fragmented and poorly resourced”, adding: “There is a strong case for a single national product safety agency. The government must implement the recommendations of an independent review on product safety, which they have been sitting on for nearly two years.”
Whirlpool said in a statement that “After two years of extensive measures to raise awareness to this campaign, the number of consumers coming forward has fallen sharply. We can assure consumers that they if they contact us now, they can receive a resolution within one week.” However Jill Paterson, a partner at the law firm Leigh Day, which represents many alleged victims of fires caused by household appliances responded “We share the ‘deep unease’ of the committee over the approach of Whirlpool and other manufacturers of appliances to the risks serious defects in their appliances pose to the British public.”
Make Electrical Product registration compulsory. At the moment it is upto the customer to register the product. Retailers should be obliged to provide details from their sales databases of all products sold. The manufacturers within the industry would welcome and support this, because they have no way of knowing who has purchased their products. The Retailers wouldn’t be so keen as they are fiercely protective of their databases! There are also data protection legislation issues that would need to be addressed. Whirlpools problems could be partially solved by retailers being forced to provide Whirlpool with the contact details of every customer known to have purchased an affected model. They could then be contacted and made aware of the potential issues with their product.