MPs slam Whirlpool over fire-risk tumble-dryers
MPs have hit out at Whirlpool for leaving more than a million homes still in danger from fire-risk tumble-dryers.
According to a report by the BBC, “a million potentially deadly tumble-dryers” could still be being used in British homes, the manufacturer has admitted.
The BBC said Whirlpool told a government committee that it had continued making the models for three years after being notified that the appliances were faulty in 2012.
However, the company claimed it had “acted in consultation with Trading Standards”.
MPs on the business committee accused the firm of “failing to act quickly” when it knew that the appliances were faulty.
In particular, they criticised the firm for failing to recall the faulty machines.
Committee chair Rachel Reeves asked: “How many fires are needed for a proper recall of these tumble dryers? We have already seen a number of fires and deaths, yet in many of our homes we still have these appliances.”
Pete Moorey, head of campaigns at consumer group Which?, said Whirlpool had “ducked their responsibilities to customers”.
Ian Moverley, communications director of Whirlpool UK, argued that the company had “worked proactively to identify the safety issue and worked closely with Trading Standards to determine what action would be taken”.
However, he came under fire from the committee after being unable to answer some of the MPs’ questions.
Ms Reeves added: “Why hasn’t someone at a more senior level come in front of us to answer our reasonable questions and take responsibility for the actions of your firm?”
The scandal broke in 2015 after it emerged that Whirlpool had manufactured 5.4 million faulty machines over an 11-year period.
Dryers under the Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda brands have all been blamed for a number of UK fires, including the Shepherds Bush tower block blaze in August 2016, which saw more than 50 people flee their homes.
Last month, a fire that killed two men in Llanrwst, Conwy County, Wales in October 2014 was linked to the faulty appliances.
Assistant coroner David Lewis said “on the balance of probabilities, the fire was caused by an electrical fault in the tumble dryer in the laundry room of the flat”.
Despite a number of incidents, Whirlpool continued to claim that the machines were “safe to use” providing someone was in the property.
However, Which? threatened to bring judicial action against Trading Standards over the advice being given.
This resulted in Trading Standards instructing new guidance to Whirlpool earlier this year, which advised consumers to unplug their dryers and not use them until they had been repaired.
In a statement sent to ERT, 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.”