Whirlpool crisis prompts new product recall scheme

A new product recall scheme for electrical goods has been set up in the wake of the recent Whirlpool tumble-dryer safety crisis.

Launched by The Retail Ombudsman, UK Recall claims to be “the UK’s first product recall database for electrical appliances”, although white goods trade association Amdea already has a scheme in place called Register My Appliance, which launched last year.

Consumers who register their appliance on the UK Recall website will receive an automatic alert if the manufacturer issues a recall or safety notice.

The free scheme includes a wide range of electrical goods, such as home appliances, TVs, home cinema, hi-fi, multimedia devices, computers and phones.

The Retail Ombudsman said the scheme was set up to help resolve disputes between retailers and consumers and claimed it is now the dominant alternative dispute resolution scheme in the retail sector.

Brands including Whirlpool, Hotpoint, Indesit, LG, Miele , Samsung and Smeg have all signed up to the scheme. For a full list of brands, please see the UK Recall website.

Said Dean Dunham (pictured), chief ombudsman: “The Whirlpool crisis told us that relying on the media to alert the public was just too random and potentially dangerous.

“Electrical appliances are one of the most common causes of house fires and home insurers have the right to refuse a payout if you have failed to register your electrical appliances and therefore not followed a manufacturer’s instructions when issued.

“By registering with UK Recall, consumers will be immediately alerted if the manufacturer of the individual appliances you register issues a recall or safety notice. We will also ensure that you are registered on the manufacturer’s database.

“There will also be a comprehensive database of recalls.”

The move was welcomed by electrical retailers association Retra. Speaking to ERT, Howard Saycell, Retra’s chief executive, said: “Clearly Retra supports any initiative that will encourage more consumers to register their appliances and raise awareness of safety. We also continue to support the Amdea scheme, which has been in place for some time.”

However, the charity Electrical Safety First warned that the launch of another electrical product recall scheme could lead to confusion.

Said Martyn Allen, head of the electrotechnical department at Electrical Safety First: “While we welcome the fact that there is increased recognition of the need to address the dangers of recalled electrical products – millions of which still exist in UK homes – we do have concerns regarding multiple sources of consumer information, as it is likely to lead to more confusion. In our view, a single recall register is required.

“Currently, in addition to the Retail Ombudsman’s product recall database, EEE Safe operates a recall register and Amdea launched its government-endorsed Register My Appliance online resource, last year.”

He added: “Electrical Safety First is a member of the Recall Review Steering Group. It comprises a range of key industry stakeholders and was established by the Government in response to the Review of the UK’s System for the Recall of Unsafe Products, which was led by consumer champion, Lynn Faulds Wood.

“One of our principal reasons for joining the Group was our strongly held view that it would best serve consumer protection (and enhance information sharing within the industry) if there was a single recall ‘register’, which was properly promoted to the public. This isn’t just our ‘opinion’ – our 2014 report, Consumer Voices on Product Recall, found that consumers wanted a ‘one-stop shop’ or single point of reference for recalls.”