The government today announced its intention to serve Whirlpool with a recall notice for its fire-risk tumble dryers.
Consumer minister Kelly Tolhurst referred to the move as ‘unprecedented’, as she signalled the government action.
This comes more than three-and-a-half years on from a Which? investigation revealing that Whirlpool tumble dryers had caused 750 fires in the previous 11 years.
Which? research revealed the scale of the problem, which affects 127 Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline vented and condenser tumble dryers made between April 2004 and October 2015.
Concerns about Whirlpool tumble dryers
The government’s announcement today follows the publication of the Office for Product Safety and Standards report into Whirlpool dryer fires in April 2019.
This report was labelled as, ‘fundamentally flawed and appearing to favour Whirlpool’s interests over people’s safety’ by Which?.
It came just months after we revealed that more than 30 owners of modified fire-risk dryers had experienced fires, smoke or burning smells.
The consumer minister told the House of Commons today that ‘consumer safety is a government priority.’
Her comments came in response to a question from former consumer minister, Andrew Griffiths, who told the house: ‘The Office for Product Safety and Standards undertook a thorough review into the modification of Whirlpool tumble dryers, yet there still remains great concern not only about the straightness of Whirlpool, but whether people have unsafe products in their homes.’
When the extent of the fire-risk tumble dryers problem was first revealed, Whirlpool refused to name the affected dryers.
The manufacturer instead referred owners online to check their model and register for a repair.
Whirlpool also advised consumers to carry on using their machines for more than a year after the safety problem was discovered.
It wasn’t until Which? commenced the formal process to judicially review Trading Standards’ handling of the fire-dryer issue in December 2016, that Whirlpool and Trading Standards finally changed their advice and told customers to stop using and unplug affected dryers.
A Whirlpool Corporation spokeswoman said: ‘The crucial message to anyone who still owns an affected dryer and has not already had it modified by Whirlpool is to contact us immediately on 0800 151 0905.
David Chaplin, Which? head of campaigns, said: ‘People’s lives have been put at risk for far too long so it’s a hugely significant step that these machines are set to be recalled.
‘But there will be serious questions if this recall only addresses the 500,000 unmodified machines that Whirlpool has already struggled to locate.
‘The Government must urgently explain what it is going to do about the millions of modified machines still in people’s homes, following serious concerns that have been raised by people who have experienced fires, smoke and burning despite the so-called fix.’