In November 2015 the Whirlpool Group, which owns domestic appliance brands such as Indesit, Hotpoint, Creda, Swan and Proline, initiated a product recall of tumble dryers manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015. The Group had identified a fire risk when excess fluff came into contact with heating elements within the appliances, causing a fire. Many air vented dryers and condensing dryers sold under the Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline brands are affected.
It is reported that Whirlpool Group may have been aware of the fire risk since October 2014 but only first alerted its customers to the risk in November 2015. In March 2016, Whirlpool Group was criticised by Leon Livermore, chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. He said that it was “unacceptable for a company to leave unsafe products in consumer homes for 11 months”. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has called for the creation of a central body to monitor product safety.
Even though customers have been encouraged to contact the manufacturers, many have reportedly been told that they face a long wait before a repair or replacement can be made. In some instances, they are being charged £99 for a replacement appliance. Whirlpool Group has advised customers that they may continue using their defective machines if they clean the filter after every cycle and ensure proper dryer venting. Electrical Safety First, a UK charity campaigning for electrical safety in UK homes, recommends that any customer owning a defective Whirlpool appliance should stop using it immediately until it has been checked by the manufacturer.
Whirlpool Group has reportedly contacted over four million affected customers since the product recall was announced in November 2015. Anyone who does own a potentially defective Whirlpool appliance can follow this link for further information.
Arran Macleod, a solicitor at Penningtons Manches acting for claimants in product liability claims, said: “Appliances such as tumble dryers are fundamental in many households across the UK. Consumers rely on the safety of these types of products and trust that they will not pose a risk of injury under normal use. It is worrying that Whirlpool Group is reportedly taking such a long time to repair or replace defective machines.
“Where a defective product poses a risk of fire, there is a significant risk of injury to an individual, particularly in the case of domestic appliances. Manufacturers are under a duty of strict liability where customers suffer injury as a result of a defective product. We deal regularly with customers who have been injured and would be happy to speak with anyone who may have suffered an injury as a result of the reported defect.”