This evening it has been widely reported that Whirlpool have changed their standing advice about the use of tumble dryers affected by a safety notice to now advising owners not to use them until they are modified.
The updated statement states: "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."
A statement from Whirlpool given to the BBC said that, "We have consistently responded to the advice of Trading Standards and continue to do so. Trading Standards have now notified us that updated usage advice should be communicated to consumers and we are implementing this."
We have obviously covered this topic in some depth over the past year or so since the problem first came to light that there was an unspecified “fire risk” with tumble dryers made and sold under the Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline between 2004 and 2015 but not all models are affected.
Of course as we expected, the vultures are circling with Andy Slaughter the MP who called for a debate in the House of Commons on the topic, saying that: “This now opens Whirlpool to claims from customers who have machines they cannot use.
“They should be replacing as well a repairing defective machines and if there is a delay in doing so, which there inevitably will be, they should compensate customers for the extra cost and inconvenience of not having a working dryer.”
And Alice Beer chiming in with “I think it’s completely unreasonable to expect customers not to use their tumble dryers whilst they wait for a modification.
“This is one of the wettest months of the year and anyone with children or extra needs in the family cannot be expected to have wet sheets and clothing spread around their house or flat.
“Instead of pushing its customers to pay for a reduced price replacement for their faulty machine, wouldn’t it be great if customers who are not able to use a machine that they have purchased in good faith are compensated.”
Whether compensation will be forthcoming or not remains to be seen.
However the cost so far to Whirlpool is stated to be in the order of $160 million (£130 million) so Whirlpool, who in July of 2014 bought the Indesit company who were actually the company that built these tumble dryers for €758 million.
So the costs of this are ramping up and, at some point those costs may well become unsustainable and what will happen if that point is reached is anyone’s guess.
With estimates running at there being 3.8 million of these dryers still in use and owners have been contacted by Whirlpool out of a possible 5 million or so there’s an awful lot of costs that Whirlpool will have to soak up. However, about 2.4 million of people contacted have not responded.
Working on the premise that so far, about 1.2 million or thereabouts have cost Whirlpool £130 million that would imply that to complete this program could cost a further £450 million!
We fully expect to see Whirlpool shares take a knock in the short term as the losses pile up.
We’d also bet that some in Whirlpool wish they’d never bought Indesit as it’s looking awfully like it turned out to be a lemon with Whirlpool having to foot the bill for Indesit’s errors.
And, we have absolutely no doubt that this topic will be raised at Friday's Whitegoods Conference.