Whirlpool response to tumble-dryer fire risk was ‘woeful’, says committee
Whirlpool’s response over fire-risk appliances has been criticised as “woeful” by the Government.
The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee added that it was unacceptable that more than one million potentially dangerous dryers were still being used in UK homes.
Committee chair Rachel Reeves said: “Whirlpool’s woeful response to the defect in its tumble-dryers has caused huge worry to people with these appliances in their homes.
“Its delayed and dismissive response to correcting these defects has been inadequate and we call on Whirlpool to resolve issues urgently.”
However, Whirlpool claimed that its repair campaign had been comparatively successful.
It argued that 1.7 million affected tumble-dryers had been replaced or repaired, four million customers had been contacted directly, and that the number of people contacting the company after the two-year awareness campaign had fallen sharply.
A spokesperson for the company said: “Whirlpool’s extensive ongoing tumble-dryer modification campaign has achieved a resolution rate more than three times the industry average for a product recall.
“We continue to urge consumers to contact us immediately if they believe they still own an affected appliance. We can assure consumers that if they contact us now, they can receive a resolution within one week.”
The defect in tumble-dryers sold under the Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit brands, which are owned by Whirlpool, was discovered in 2015 and has led to 750 fires since 2004, according to the committee.
However, Ms Reeves argued that this problem encompasses more than just Whirlpool and claimed that there was a “strong case for a single, national product safety agency”.
“These problems go deeper than just one firm,” she said. “Whirlpool’s response has highlighted flaws in the UK’s product safety regime, which is fragmented and poorly resourced.”
She added that the Government’s response to an independent review two years ago by Lynn Faulds-Wood, which had suggested a national agency, was “painfully slow”.
Alex Neill from consumer group Which? also agreed. He said: “Despite hundreds of reported fires and numerous reviews, the UK’s product safety system is still broken and potentially threatening the lives of millions of consumers.”
Martyn Allen, of charity Electrical Safety First, commented: “Given the low success rate of product recalls, and that only 10 per cent to 20 per cent of faulty goods are ever returned or repaired, there are potentially millions of dangerous electrical goods still in people’s homes.
“Without a centralised, publicly available database that lists all UK product recalls, it is extremely difficult for consumers to actually know if the products they are using are safe.”