MPs hit out at Whirlpool for ending dryer replacement scheme

Whirlpool has been criticised once again for ending its product replacement scheme for fire-risk tumble-dryers.

MPs have demanded to know why Whirlpool has ended a product replacement scheme for affected models after a commons business committee said in October that more than a million “defective machines” remain in UK homes.

Whirlpool said it is still offering free repairs but ended a £50 offer for a replacement model after a fall in demand.

The scheme was introduced due to a growing waiting list of repairs, which allowed consumers to purchase a replacement dryer at a reduced price of £50.

After issues emerged with Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline models manufactured between April 2004 and October 2015, Whirlpool initially told consumers that the dryers were safe to use but shouldn’t be left unattended.

Following calls from the London Fire Brigade to change its advice, Whirlpool later told consumers to unplug the machines and refrain from using them until they could be repaired.

The Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee has now written to Whirlpool asking for an explanation of the termination of the scheme.

Committee chairwoman Rachel Reeves accused the manufacturer of “falling significantly short of its responsibilities” and also asked why communications director Ian Moverly failed to mention the end of the replacement scheme when he gave evidence to the committee in October.

Whirlpool said that anyone with an affected model was still eligible for a free repair.

In a statement Whirlpool said: “We continue to appeal to any remaining owners of the affected models to contact us immediately so we can modify their tumble dryers. After two years of extensive measures to raise awareness, the number of consumers coming forward has now fallen sharply. This suggests that few affected appliances remain in service.

“We wish to remind consumers that if they still own one of these appliances, it is never too late to get in touch and we urge them to contact us immediately.

“The booking process is instant and they can arrange for one of our engineers to visit their home free of charge to carry out the modification at a time of their choice.

“Anyone who still owns an Indesit, Hotpoint, Creda, Swan or Proline dryer manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015 should visit https://safety.indesit.eu/https://safety.hotpoint.eu/ or https://safety-swan.eu  and use the interactive model checker to find out if theirs is affected. Alternatively, UK consumers can call our dedicated freephone helpline on 0800 151 0905.”

Consumer group Which? previously criticised Whirlpool, as well as the government for failing to step in.

Which? managing director of home products and services Alex Neill said: “It is completely unacceptable that Whirlpool has shut down its replacement scheme for these dangerous tumble dryers.

“It is irresponsible that despite one million households potentially still using an affected machine, Whirlpool seems unwilling to do everything possible to deal with this issue.

“The government must step in and force Whirlpool to fully recall the remaining tumble dryers.”

Last week, a coroner blamed a fault in a Whirlpool dryer for a fire in 2014 that killed two men in north Wales.

The coroner from the inquests into the deaths of Doug McTavish and Bernard Hender in Llanrwst, north Wales, told Whirlpool to “take action”.

He claimed that the fire was caused “on the balance of probabilities” by an electrical fault with the door switch on the dryer.

He also described evidence presented by Whirlpool at the inquest as “defensive and dismissive” and said the company’s approach was an “obstacle” to finding steps to prevent future fires.

His final report has been sent to the company, and it has until December 26 to respond.