- Created: Tuesday, 24 May 2016 15:35
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Which? have been looking into the ongoing safety notification or recall of Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers and, they’re not happy campers.
Let us point out in advance that, traditionally Whirlpool don’t seem to like us much. We can’t think why but perhaps it’s that we disagree with some of the stuff they do that’s been a problem but anyway, there seems little love lost so for us to pass on the opportunity to kick them while they’re down is rare let alone defend them.
However we have to say, this really is unprecedented and that terminology is not used lightly or is any form of exaggeration, there has been no recall of this magnitude in the UK for appliances, ever.
So Whirlpool are on new ground here and picking up a problem that, to be fair and honest, really wasn’t of their making. This is all on Hotpoint or GEC and Indesit Company, Whirlpool just inherited all the hassles.
Then they get dumped on with levels of work that no company in the industry could even dream of being able to cope with.
They don’t have the troops on the ground to fix the tumble dryers and they don’t have enough backsides on seats in call centres to cope with the calls either.
Getting staff and training them takes time.
All in all, they were on a loser before this even hit the press cycle.
We’ve said this over and over, there just aren’t enough trained technicians in the UK to cope with this.
Even if the entire industry were all working on this and doing nothing bar this would take months to get through the volume never mind what resources even the mighty Whirlpool Corporation can bring to bear may be. Which, won’t be even remotely close to that Nirvana.
So, delays are totally unavoidable and should be expected.
Whirlpool could cut that time down and they have tried a bit in fairness by using outside staff but, some of them are will we say, not the best. We are aware that some have been dropped as what they were doing made the dryers more dangerous as they weren’t doing it right so Whirlpool (quite rightly and properly) pulled the work from them. Kudos to Whirlpool for that.
Even if they were to agree to replace every dryer in the UK that was affected, they don’t have the production capacity to do that any faster really so, that’s not a cure.
We suspect that may be the reason for the £99 for new one, to try to stop that from getting out of hand.
There is no way out this mess fast for Whirlpool so, even from us as surprising as it might be, they have a bit of sympathy.
Given all that, what’s in the Which? press release in full below probably won’t surprise anyone.
Although Which? are 100% right about the list of affected models, that should be made available right now and should have been long ago. There's no defending Whirlpool or no satisfactory excuse on that one.
Ditto using this as a marketing exercise, that's a bit out of order.
See our tumble dryer fire risk article for full details or one dating back years here but, the short of it is that if people follow the instructions and, we do mean follow them and not just say they do, then there is a very low risk.
If you don’t follow the instructions, well the risk goes up a bit but it’s still not like every dryer in the land is going to burst into flames.
You may think that’s a bit blasé but we tend not to do the whole PR’d, sugar-coated thing and any dryer has the potential to go up in flames if it’s not cared for and used properly so, really it’s not. The chances of an incident are really low, if you follow the directions that are given.
If you have one, get your tumble dryer booked onto Whirlpool’s system ASAP then do as instructed and it should be fine till Whirlpool get round to fixing it for you or, you get a new one.
Which? Press Release
As a Which? undercover investigation reveals multiple failings by Whirlpool in dealing with customers affected by safety issues, the consumer champion calls on Whirlpool to clean up its act and treat affected customers fairly.
Following reports of 5.3 million customers potentially affected by tumble dryer fires and some customers having to wait up to a year for their machine to be repaired, Which? made undercover calls to the Whirlpool call centre, surveyed over 800 affected owners and heard in-depth experiences from 40 case studies.
Our research found:
DELAYS: We were consistently told it would take 8-12 weeks to get a customer ID before anything can happen – something that should be done at the push of a button. Waiting times for repairs are still very long – a third (32%) of people surveyed who opted for a repair were told they would have to wait six months or more.
CONFUSION: We found that consumers are being pushed from pillar to post. On our mystery shop calls when posing as a consumer with a nine month old dryer, we were repeatedly told to take up a claim for a replacement with the retailer. Many of our 40 case studies tried this route and were told to take this up with Whirlpool. Whirlpool told us that they will investigate this issue.
WITHHOLDING INFORMATION: Whirlpool has still not published a complete list of the affected models - at least 127 – leaving the burden on the consumer to find out if their machine is affected. Which? has now been able to obtain the details of affected models and has for the first time published all of these model numbers on its website. Whirlpool maintains its position that they will not publish the affected model numbers. They say consumers can use the model checker on their website to find out if their machine is affected.
SAFETY: Six in ten (62%) affected customers told us they were concerned about using their dryer whilst waiting for a repair; yet numerous call handlers on our undercover calls told us there was “nothing to worry about” when using our machine, as long as we followed safety instructions.
LIMITED OPTIONS: Consumers are stuck between a rock and hard place – faced with a decision between lengthy delays for a repair, or paying for a reduced priced replacement. One in five (20%) Whirlpool customers who opted for a replacement felt they had no choice but to pay for a new machine and a third (33%) said that, given the option, they would rather pay for a replacement than wait so long for a repair.
DISSATISFACTION: Consumers overwhelmingly feel that Whirlpool is failing them. More than half (54%) of the affected customers we surveyed felt dissatisfied with the way Whirlpool has handled this situation. This rises to eight in ten (80%) among those who had to wait six months or more for a repair.
OPPORTUNISM: Whirlpool is using the dryer safety process as an opportunity to sign customers up for marketing materials. Our undercover calls revealed that Whirlpool’s recorded opening message automatically opts callers in to receive future marketing unless they ask to opt out. Whirlpool says that consumer data collected as part of the dryer modification campaign is not used for cross-marketing purposes unless a consumer has already registered their interest elsewhere.
In light of clear evidence of confusion and poor practice, Whirlpool must take urgent action to put things right for their customers who are being left with faulty – and potentially dangerous – goods in their homes.
Which? is calling on Whirlpool to commit to:
Clearly list all 127 affected model numbers on the front page of its website with details of how customers can get help.
Speed up the process by making it quicker to generate a customer ID number when consumers first make contact with the call centre.
Train its call centre staff to offer better advice to affected customers and stop directing them to retailers, who are in turn directing people back to Whirlpool, simply delaying the process.
The failings in this case highlight major issues with the current product safety regulations. Which? has submitted this evidence to the Government’s new steering group, established after Lynn Faulds Wood’s review, and is asking it to review the Whirlpool case, look at how existing law applies in these situations and make practical recommendations to improve the product recall system within the next month.
Alex Neill, Which? Director of Policy and Campaigns said:
“Whirlpool customers rightly feel dissatisfied with how they’ve been treated, being faced with delays, confusion and a lack of information. Whirlpool must clean up their act and sort this mess out.
“This case, affecting millions, clearly highlights the problems with the current product safety regulations. The Government must act swiftly to simplify the system and close the loopholes that allow companies to leave consumers without the basic information and advice they need.”
Bronwen McWilliams, from Farnham, Buckinghamshire, had her Indesit dryer delivered a day after the issue was first raised and discovered that her model was affected. She said:
“Despite numerous calls to the retailer and Whirlpool they’re saying I cannot have a new machine. They’ve told me it is only a modification required but I am yet to get a confirmed date for when this will be completed.”
When we asked Whirlpool to comment on our findings, they said:
“The safety of our customers is our number one priority. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that the modification programme is being carried out in a safe and timely manner. The scale of this modification programme is considerable and we’re continually looking into alternative options which will allow us to progress the programme at a faster pace. As a result, we continue to recruit extra engineers and call-centre staff to speed up the modification programme.”
tumble dryerI have a hotpoint tumble dryer Model TVHM80CP (UK) Serial No 510132076 is this safe. firstname.lastname@example.org
We honestly do not know as a full list of affected models has not been published so it is impossible for anyone but the manufacturer to confirm if it is an affected model or not. You would need to get in touch with Hotpoint customer service for confirmation either way.
No, not that we are aware of.