Whirlpool are once more under pressure to issue a full recall on the now famous tumble dryers that have been reported as catching fire.
So far Whirlpool have issued a “safety notice” which his not the same thing as a full recall and there are important differences between the two.
It has been reported that now Leon Livermore, chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, is urging the Government to use its powers to force the US based company to act and issue a full recall on the affected tumble dryers.
Livermore said: “Central government itself does have back-up powers to force companies into recalls and to take action.
“So we would call on the Government, in particular the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, to take action before someone dies.”
Much of this in light of the Which? findings that were issued and we reported on last week.
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.”
There is some truth there as Whirlpool have, as yet, not issued a full list of all the models affected and, this is bad. For starters even the likes of ourselves could then flag those models in the spare part store and warn people that they may have a model affected by this recall when looking for parts. The service technicians would be able to advise people when in their homes repairing other appliances.
In short, that information not being out there is not helpful in our view.
Whirlpool have told Which? however that: “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.”
There is also truth there. This modification program, as we have repeatedly stated, is the largest ever in the UK that is both unrivalled and unparalleled in scope or size. There’s never been a recall this huge before and, simply put, the mechanisms to physically deal with it do not exist.
Whirlpool have neither the manpower to modify all the affected dryers faster nor the production capacity to replace them much if any quicker.
No-one else does either.
Even if they did pull a rabbit out the hat to do it faster, would it be safe or would it be done properly? We’ve already seem instances by third parties contracted to do the mods botch it so, that’s not a good option as things stand right now.
Whirlpool Knew In Advance
Which? say in an article published on the 31st May that Whirlpool knew about this months in advance and approached Trading Standard on the matter at the end of August 2015 yet no public announcement until the end of November.
We knew about it on October 16th.
But that’s not really the point, of course Whirlpool knew in advance otherwise how would they be able to do anything about it? Pretty darned obvious really.
They got a sense of the scale probably and probably knew that this would go ballistic in the press, would have Trading Standards involved and all the rest so took action in advance most likely in a bid to get set up to cope with it.
As much as we may not always see eye-to-eye with Whirlpool, we really don’t think they did anything wrong or improper there. It’s just plain common sense to try to cover as much as possible and gear up in advance.
Retailers Not Warned
Okay we get it but ask yourself this, how would Whirlpool know what retailers and what stock where?
A lot of it is distributed through third party distributors so, if they knew where it all was (extremely doubtful) you might have had a chance of tracking them down. Otherwise, forget it.
It could be said that to a degree, the retailers themselves had a responsibility to know about this after all, it’s hardly been hard to find out about and, to have taken action.
We can understand that people unfamiliar with how this at times crazy mixed up industry works might think that was a reasonable criticism but, it’s really not.
Appliances are not like cars, they are not tracked or traced everywhere so finding out who’s got what machines where is, for most manufacturers, nigh on impossible.
Whirlpool Eject Teddies
The latest is that Whirlpool have complained to the press regulator (IPSO) about a report in the Daily Mirror saying that the recall would take four years to complete.
The 15th February headline was: “Faulty tumble dryers that can burst into flames ‘will take 4 years to fix”.
Whirlpool took the hump about it and complained.
IPSO kicked the complaint out stating that the Daily Mirror was reporting claims on a matter of public interest. In other words, bog off Mr Whirlpool.
All the Mirror had done was taken Whirlpool’s own figures of 3500 repairs a day, 5.3 million tumble dryers and done a little basic arithmetic to come up with four years or thereabouts to get it all done.
Whirlpool said that was wrong as they are now modifying 4325 tumble dryers a day and that a million would be no longer in use in four years. Maybe that’s how many will go on fire who knows but we’d think it more like they’ll be down at the council tip worn out and busted.
In any event the upshot is that best case, reckon on three years to get this done.
Another One Up In Flames
Meanwhile, the same day, another Hotpoint tumble dryer is reported in the Mirror for burning out a flat in Sherwood, Nottinghamshire owned by Melissa Dooley.
Too early to call it on the cause if we even ever get to know what it was but Hotpoint (or Whirlpool) are due to have a look at it this week however Ms Dooley is understandably not happy and slams Whirlpool big time saying that: “They are playing Russian roulette with lives.”
Remember to follow all the tumble dryer safety advice on the site and you should be fine, for any tumble dryer as they all have the capacity to be dangerous, not just these ones from Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit.