Consumer group Which? has today published a report criticising Whirlpool for their handling of repairs and consumer advice regarding potentially dangerous tumble dryers.
Last November Whirlpool issued a safety notice for a number of its tumble dryers under its brands Hotpoint, Idesit and Creda. The safety notice cites a fire risk due to excess fluff coming into contact with the heating element. It has been reported that over five million machines are affected.
Whirlpool did not issue a product recall and its advice to affected customers remains that they can continue to use their tumble dryer while waiting for repair, provided it is not left unattended.
The report published by Which? today has revealed that customers are still facing lengthy delays for repairs of the affected tumble dryers and that in some cases Whirlpool is giving incorrect advice to consumers.
Which? reported that around a quarter of affected customers had been told by Whirlpool that they would have to wait more than six months for their tumble dryer to be repaired and one in five were told it would be a three to six month wait.
As part of their investigation Which? mystery shoppers made calls to the Whirlpool call centre posing as customers with affected machines. One was told that their machine was not affected despite providing a model number that was in the affected group. Another three mystery shoppers were incorrectly told to contact the shop where they had bought their dryers from.
Customers with the affected models are also still facing long waits for a customer ID number which is needed before the repair or replacement process can begin. Despite Whirlpool committing to provide these within 10 days, some of the mystery shoppers were told the wait could be six to 12 weeks.
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) said that it believed a faulty Indesit dryer was responsible for a huge blaze in a tower block in Shepherd’s Bush on 19 August this year. Five floors of the tower block were affected by the fire which required 20 fire engines to bring under control.
The LFB have urged Whirlpool to change its advice to customers to ensure that machines awaiting repair are not used.
He said: “This report by Which? shows that a year on from the safety notice issued by Whirlpool that they are still taking far too long to repair affected machines.
“We are urging Whirlpool to speed up its repair programme and change its advice to avoid the potential of human life being put at risk by any further fires.”
A spokesperson for Whirlpool urged anyone with an Indesit, Hotpoint or Creda dryer manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015 to check if their dryer is affected and then register for a free modification if it is.
They added: “The safety of consumers is our number one priority and we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that the tumble dryer modification programme is carried out in a safe and timely manner.”
Leigh Day’s product liability team created the Expect It’s Safe campaign to protect consumers by putting pressure on manufacturers to do more to make the public aware when faults are discovered in relation to their products and that safety is put ahead of profit.
The campaign covers a number of consumer products, focusing on potentially fatal household appliances, the use of hazardous chemicals in cosmetics, harmful ingredients and incorrect labelling on food and drinks and drugs and medical devices.