Flop of the Month: Delayed action (and apology) leaves Whirlpool customers in a spin

Whirlpool recalled its problematic and dangerous tumble dryers in July and apologised to affected customers - several years after the problem first arose.

Whirlpool's faulty dryer crisis has been going on for four years (©GettyImages)
Whirlpool's faulty dryer crisis has been going on for four years (©GettyImages)

Four years on from Whirlpool admitting that it had a fire problem with many of its vented and condenser tumble dryers, in July the manufacturer finally committed to naming all of the dangerous dryers on its website and issuing a recall notice.

Jeff Noel, Whirlpool’s VP, told a House of Commons select committee that he would provide a list of all the affected models at the request of the committee’s chair, Rachel Reeves MP. He went on to promise the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee hearing into the fire problems caused by Whirlpool tumble dryers that the company would also publish a full list of the affected models on its website.

He also told the BBC: "We apologise for putting our customers through hardship."

And yet Which? has been calling for Whirlpool to name its fire-risk dryers since 2015. Until recently, worried consumers needed to type their tumble dryer’s model number into a checker on the Whirlpool website to find out whether it was a fire-risk dryer.

Earlier this year Whirlpool admitted there could be as many as 500,000 unmodified tumble dryers in UK homes. Which? has reported more than 30 cases of tumble dryers that have previously been modified by Whirlpool catching fire, producing smoke or smelling of burning. These included the case of Jemma Spurr, whose repaired tumble dryer caught fire in September 2018. At the committee hearing she tearfully described how her house had gone up in flames with her children inside it.

Which? said: ‘Whirlpool executives came face to face with a brave mother who laid bare the devastating impact that tumble dryer fires are having on the company’s customers – and yet still it insists on putting corporate reputation ahead of public safety." It called on the secretary of state to step in and ensure that all potentially dangerous machines are immediately removed from people’s homes.

The official launch of the recall would be supported by a £1m advertising campaign aimed at raising awareness for remaining owners, the company said.

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