Whirlpool admits up to 800,000 faulty dryers exist
Whirlpool has admitted that there could be as many as 800,000 faulty tumble-dryers in homes around the UK. In June, the government said it would issue a recall notice of up to 500,000 dryers which pose a fire safety risk.
But when pressed by MPs on the Business Committee, company executives admitted the number of unmodified machines could be higher.
A fault in Whirlpool machines was blamed for at least 750 fires over an 11-year period, the government said.
Whirlpool said it had logged 54 fires caused by a build-up of fluff in its tumble dryers in recent years, three of which were in machines that had been modified.
Charlie Pugsley, deputy assistant commissioner at the London Fire Brigade, said his service had seen a wide range of faults causing fires in machines that had already been modified.
Jemma Spurr was one customer whose modified dryer caught fire. She told the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee that despite repeated attempts to get in touch with Whirlpool directly, she had never received the report on the cause of her fire, or an apology from the company.
Whirlpool executive Jeff Noel apologised to Ms Spurr during the hearing and said the company had modified every machine bought to its attention.
Ms Spurr also claimed that Whirlpool asked her to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) about the incident. She did sign it but has spoken out anyway.
Whirlpool said non-disclosure agreements were standard industry practice during insurance settlements.
Sue Davies, strategic policy adviser for Which?, told the committee about a review carried out by the Office for Production Safety and Standards.
She said it was “completely flawed” because it was based on “incredibly limited” data, much of which was provided by Whirlpool itself, and which she said contained gaps and inconsistencies.
Ms Davies added that it would be “absolutely incredible if Whirlpool are asking customers to sign NDAs” to obtain compensation.
Whirlpool Corporation said:
“We were pleased to have the opportunity to update the committee on our tumble dryer campaign.
“The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) recently concluded a comprehensive year-long review of the dryer programme which confirmed that the modification is effective in resolving the issue.
“Safety is always our number one priority and we remain committed to resolving all unmodified dryers affected by this issue. As we updated the committee, we are expanding our recall campaign to include further options to encourage remaining consumers to come forward and remedy their unmodified appliances.
“The crucial message to anyone who still owns an affected dryer and has not already had it modified by Whirlpool is to contact us immediately on 0800 151 0905, or visit https://safety.hotpoint.eu/, https://safety.indesit.eu/ or https://safety-swan.eu.
“As advised by OPSS, consumers whose tumble dryers have been modified can continue to use them safely and there is no need to contact Whirlpool at this time.”