One year on, Whirlpool still failing customers

A new investigation from Which? shows that, one year on from announcing the tumble dryer fire issue affecting millions across the UK, Whirlpool is still failing its affected customers.

Which? first investigated the Whirlpool tumble dryer safety issue in April this year and launched a second investigation in November. Which? found that one in five (22%) of the affected customers surveyed in April are still waiting for their machine to be repaired or replaced.  A third (33%) of customers who had since had their dryer repaired or replaced, said they were dissatisfied with how the manufacturer had handled the situation.

Six in ten (62%) of those we surveyed for the first time in November 2016 who had decided to wait for a repair were concerned about using their tumble dryer.

One quarter (26%) of affected customers were told they would have to wait longer than six months for their tumble dryer to be repaired. One in five (22%) were told that the wait would be between three and six months.

In addition to affected customers being forced to wait far too long, Which? found Whirlpool to be giving a customer incorrect and potentially dangerous advice. Which? mystery shoppers made thirty calls to the Whirlpool call centre posing as customers with affected machines and found:

  • ·         On one occasion a mystery shopper was told that their machine was not affected despite providing the call centre with a model number Which? knew to be affected. They were even told to throw any letters they received about the safety notice ‘in the rubbish’.
  • ·         On three occasions, mystery shoppers were told to contact the shop they bought the machine from for a replacement.

Affected customers are still facing long waits for customer ID numbers. A customer ID number needs to be issued before anything can happen in the repair or replacement process. Despite Whirlpool committing to reduce the waiting time for a customer ID number to 10 days, Which? found some call handlers quoting 6-12 weeks to mystery shoppers.

Alex Neill, Managing Director of Home & Legal Services at Which? said:

“It is absolutely unacceptable that one year on, Whirlpool customers are still seeing slow, poor service and potentially receiving incorrect and dangerous advice. Its modification programme is clearly not progressing as fast as it should. 

“Following the devastating fire caused by a tumble dryer in Shepherd’s Bush earlier this year, Whirlpool cannot be allowed to continue letting consumers down. It must clean up its act and sort out this mess urgently.”

Which? has published a full list of affected tumble dryers on http://www.which.co.uk/whirlpool. For advice on what to do if you are in possession of a faulty dryer, visit http://www.which.co.uk/whirlpool  

When we asked Whirlpool to comment on our findings, they said:

“We urge everyone who owns an Indesit, Hotpoint or Creda dryer manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015 to check if their dryer is affected and then register for a free modification if it is. Customers can do this using the model checker on two bespoke websites we have created, https://safety.hotpoint.eu/ and https://safety.indesit.eu/, or our dedicated freephone helpline on 0800 151 0905 for the UK, or 1800 804320 for Ireland.

“The safety of consumers is our number one priority and we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that the tumble dryer modification programme is carried out in a safe and timely manner.”

— ENDS —

Notes to editors:

  • ·         Which? conducted a new investigation into Whirlpool from 18 October – 10 November 2016, completing 30 calls to the Whirlpool call centre posing as consumers with affected machines (18-23 October). Which? also contacted the 820 affected customers who answered their survey in April. 529 of them responded. Additionally, they surveyed 493 affected customers who had not previously answered the April survey (1-10 November).
  • ·         The initial Which? investigation into the Whirlpool tumble dryer safety issue took place from 19 April – 12 May 2016. During this investigation Which? surveyed 820 affected customers (29 April – 6 May). Additionally, Which? conducted 30 mystery calls to the Whirlpoolcall centre (19 April – 12 May).
  • ·         The brands affected by the Whirlpool tumble dryer safety issue include certain models of Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Proline and Swan tumble dryers.
  • ·         For advice on what to do if you are in possession of a faulty dryer visit http://www.which.co.uk/whirlpool
  • ·         Whirlpool has provided usage guidelines to those who have an affected machine that is awaiting modification, which they say are based on a rigorous risk assessment. The guidelines require that consumers do not leave their dryers unattended during operation and should check and clean the filter after every cycle and ensure proper dryer venting, as directed in the original operating manual.
  • ·         Whirlpool has told us they are continuing to make improvements to speed up the modification programme, with some customers now waiting a month from registration to modification.

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