Appliance fire lawyer Jill Paterson has welcomed a recent report produced by consumer body Which? into Whirlpool fire-risk tumble dryers but is disturbed by its findings. Ms Paterson said ‘consumers are being let down, manufacturers should be doing much more to help their customers’.
Which? carried out an undercover investigation by carrying out multiple calls to the Whirlpool call centre following reports that nearly four million Whirlpool tumble-dryers in the UK presented a fire risk to consumers.
Which? also contacted more than 800 owners of the affected models, and looked more deeply into 40 case studies.
Researchers were consistently told that it would take 8-12 weeks to get a customer ID before any action could be taken by the manufacturer. Waiting times from repairs are still taking a long time; a third of those surveyed had been told they would have to wait for six months or more.
Which? reports that Whirlpool has not yet released a complete list of the affected models which include Hotpoint, Creda, Proline and Swan dryers pushing the responsibility of identifying dangerous appliances back onto the consumer, many of whom may not be aware that their products are dangerous.
Many consumers were told by the manufacturer that replacement claims should be taken up with the retailer of the product, rather than Whirlpool, despite this being inconsistent with the company’s policy.
More than 50% of the affected customers that Which? spoke to felt that the company is letting them down, this rises to 80% for consumers who had to wait six months or more for their dryers to be repaired.
The director of policy and campaigns at Which?, Alex Neill, said ‘Whirlpool customers rightly feel dissatisfied with how they’ve been treated, being faced with delays, confusion and a lack of information. Whirlpool must clean up its act and sort this mess out.
‘This case, affecting millions, clearly highlights the problems with the current product safety regulations. The Government must act swiftly to simplify the system and close the loopholes that allow companies to leave consumers without the basic information and advice they need.’
Appliance fire lawyer Jill Paterson said:
“This disturbing report suggests that consumers are being let down by manufacturers.
“The long delay to repair potentially dangerous Whirlpool appliances leaves consumers at risk of a devastating house fire, and demonstrates that the current product recall system is far from perfect.
“The Government must act now to bring into effect the reforms and recommendations made by Lynn Faulds Wood in her Independent Recall Review published earlier this year.”