THE MANUFACTURER ended the offer to replace fire risk tumble dryers, with MPs and consumer rights companies questioning the decision.
Last week, a Welsh coroner said that the company’s ‘reluctance to digest inquest lesson’ was an ‘obstacle to preventing further deaths’, after Bernard Hender and Doug McTavish both died in a fire in their flat in Llanwrist, North Wales in October 2014. Coroner David Lewis recorded a ‘narrative verdict’, and ruled that the fire was ‘caused by an electrical fault in the door switch of a Hotpoint dryer.
Mr Lewis later published a report for the ‘prevention of future deaths’, which was issued to Whirlpool, who produce Hotpoint machines, raising concerns on Whirlpool’s ‘defensive and dismissive’ evidence at the court, as well as its ‘reluctance to place due reliance on information coming forward’.
In recent months, Whirlpool has faced criticism for its failure to recall up to one million dryers that pose a fire risk, and its range of appliances caused ‘three times more’ fires in London than any other manufacturer, according to London Fire Brigade data. Now, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has reported on the ‘anger’ from MPs after the manufacturer closed its replacement scheme first issued in 2015, in relation to a safety notice for two types of dryers.
These dryers, under its Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Proline and Swan brands, could be a fire risk ‘following reports of fires started by excess fluff catching the heating element in the machines’, with devices manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015 affected. It had originally told customers they could ‘continue to use dryers while waiting for them to receive their safety modification, as long as they were not left unattended’.
This advice was changed ‘earlier this year’ after the fire service applied pressure, with Whirlpool now advising owners to ‘unplug the machines and not to use them again until the fault is fixed’, and the closure of the scheme will see it continue to offer free repairs, but end its £50 offer for a replacement machine ‘after demand fell’.
The Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has written to Whirlpool asking why it has ‘now chosen to end the scheme’, while consumer rights charity Which? questioned the decision. Alex Neill, its managing director of home products and services, stated: ‘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.’