Millions of owners of potentially lethal tumble dryers have been warned not to use them, while they await repair.
Following the commencement of a claim for judicial review, Which? has succeeded in forcing Peterborough Trading Standards to take action against Whirlpool.
As a result of trading standards enforcement notices, Whirlpool has now updated the tumble dryer safety advice on its websites.
The statement on the Whirlpool safety website says: ‘If your tumble dryer is affected by this issue, then you should unplug it and do not use it until the modification has taken place.’
Some owners have been waiting up to a year for a free repair to be carried out.
Fires have been caused by excess fluff, which can come into contact with the heating element and catch light.
One machine awaiting repair caught fire in London last August, causing a blaze in a tower block that needed 120 firefighters to bring it under control.
Which? demands a total recall
Now that Peterborough Trading Standards has taken some action against Whirlpool, Which? will not continue the legal process against the local authority department at this time.
But, this long-running issue highlights the weaknesses of the current product safety system.
Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home and legal services, said: ‘Following our long-running campaign and our recent application for judicial review, Peterborough Trading Standards has finally taken enforcement action against Whirlpool for the ongoing tumble dryer safety issue.
‘Fundamentally, we now believe a full recall is necessary, and the government must urgently address the issues with the product safety system, as it shouldn’t require the threat of judicial review to ensure that consumers are protected from dangerous products.
‘Despite updating the safety notice on its websites, Whirlpool still needs to do a lot more.
‘Our advice is to go straight to Whirlpool to demand your machine is fixed but also try speaking to the retailer you bought it from for a replacement.’
Waiting around for repairs
Whirlpool customers who will now be left waiting for a repair and unable to use their machines can consider exercising their rights under the Sale of Goods Act to seek a replacement or refund from their retailer.
Anyone following this course of action should be aware that they may not receive the full price of the dryer, depending on its age.
Whirlpool also still needs to address many of the other points identified by Which? – namely:
- addressing the speed with which it is repairing or replacing dryers
- acting in the best interests of affected customers
- properly training its call centre staff to give accurate information
- publishing the affected model numbers.
Make change happen
The Which? campaign to tackle the Whirlpool tumble dryer safety issue has now been supported by more than 75,000 people.
Which? is now backing MP Andy Slaughter’s petition to urge the government to force Whirlpool to recall the faulty machines. If you want to join us in compelling the government to act, back the petition at which.co.uk/whirlpoolaction.