Whirlpool is to recall up to 800,000 potentially faulty tumble dryers – over three and a half years after it first contacted customers about a fire risk.
Which tumble dryers are affected by the recall?
Whirlpool has issued a recall for up to 800,000 faulty tumble dryers – made by Hotpoint, Creda, Indesit, Swan and Proline. These brands are owned by Whirlpool. Millions of tumble dryers are potentially at risk of catching fire because lint can build up near the drum seal and come into contact with the heater.
SAVVY TIP: It’s important to say at the outset that not all tumble dryers sold under these brands are potentially faulty.
The potentially faulty tumble dryers were manufactured by Creda, Hotpoint, Indesit, Proline and Swan between April 2004 and September 2015. There’s a list of over 600 tumble dryer models that could be faulty, which you can find on the Hotpoint Safety website. Whirlpool’s own brand of tumble dryer isn’t affected. Here’s the link to a website set up by Whirlpool where you can check whether your tumble dryer is potentially faulty
SAVVY TIP: Whirlpool says that the easiest way to check if your tumble dryer is faulty is to look for a green dot on the inside of the tumble dryer door. It should be positioned on the opening (near the top and near the seal) or on the information sticker on the back of the tumble dryer. If your tumble dryer has a green dot, Whirlpool says it does NOT need to be repaired as it’s not affected.
What you need to do
If your tumble dryer has already been modified by Whirlpool, you won’t be affected by the recall notice. If your tumble dryer hasn’t been modified, you should go to Dryer-recall.com. This website just takes you to the site I linked to earlier. If you prefer, you can ring Whirlpool on 0800 151 0905. You will be offered a choice of three options:
- A replacement. Whirlpool will replace your faulty tumble dryer with one that’s of the same or similar specification. They will take away your old tumble dryer free of charge. They’ll also deliver a new dryer and fit it at no cost to you.
- A refund. You may not get a full refund of the cost. Whirlpool says the refund is ‘age-related’. This means that the longer you’ve had the tumble dryer for, the less you’re likely to get back. But, bearing in mind that you may not have used your tumble dryer since the original warning in November 2015, it could be several years old and still qualify for a full or nearly full refund.
- A cut-price upgrade. If you want to upgrade to a model that has more features, you can buy a vented tumble dryer for the subsidised price of £59 and a condenser tumble dryer for £99.
Delays to repair programme
Originally, Whirlpool offered to repair or ‘modify’ the tumble dryers. But this repair programme was plagued with delays, with many thousands of people being told they would have to wait months before their tumble dryer could be repaired. In the meantime, Whirlpool said that the faulty tumble dryers were safe to use as long as people emptied the filter every time they used it, were in the house when the tumble dryer was being used and were not asleep at the time.
However, after a campaign by London Fire Brigade (after a fire was caused by faulty Indesit tumble dryer), that advice was changed. In 2017, Whirlpool told customers to unplug their tumble dryer if it had not yet been modified. But some say this didn’t go far enough from a safety point of view and said that people shouldn’t be told to use tumble dryers that could catch fire. I wholeheartedly agreed with this criticism. Why would you allow your customers to risk a fire at their home, by using a tumble dryer that could be faulty?
The announcement this week that Whirlpool would recall the faulty tumble dryers comes after a lengthy campaign by a number of organisations, but especially London Fire Brigade. You can read about the London Fire Brigade campaign for a recall by Whirlpool on its website.
What about modified tumble dryers?
Some consumer programmes such as BBC Watchdog and organisations such as Which? said that some tumble dryers that had been repaired were still faulty. In May, a government body called the Office for Product Safety and Standards published a report in which it said that the risk of fire caused by modified tumble dryers was low. However, it was pretty critical of Whirlpool in terms of the way it’s communicated with its customers. You can read a short version of its report here.
Yesterday, the parliamentary Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee criticised the government’s decision to only make Whirlpool recall tumble dryers that have not been modified. Rachel Reeves, the committee’s chairman said:
“Finally, over a year since we called for a recall of defective machines and 18 months since the BEIS Committee reported on Whirlpool’s inadequate response to safety flaws, the Government is at last showing some teeth and taking long overdue action on Whirlpool.
“The company’s modification of defective machines has proceeded at snail’s pace, leaving up to half a million unmodified and potentially unsafe tumble dryers still in people’s homes. It’s not clear what has prompted this belated recall announcement – the Government need to set out why they have taken this action and how they meet ongoing concerns about those machines which have been modified. Whirlpool have consistently sought to downplay the seriousness of these safety issues. Whirlpool have too often treated this sorry saga as a PR matter, apparently seeking to put commercial considerations before customer safety. The BEIS Committee will expect a full explanation of their actions when Whirlpool appear before us in July”.
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