Which? response to the OPSS review of the Whirlpool tumble dryer modification

Caroline Normand, Which? Director of Advocacy said:

“This review is fundamentally flawed and appears to favour business interests over people’s safety. It sends an alarming message that companies failing to deal with potentially dangerous products will not be made to take responsibility.

“People continue to report signs of fire in their modified tumble dryers, but the Office for Product Safety and Standards has failed to take decisive action to end the shocking three-year Whirlpool saga and instead thumbed its nose at those concerns.

“The OPSS is not the strong, independent product safety regulator needed to keep people safe. The Secretary of State, Greg Clark, must now step in and show the safety of consumers is the Government’s top priority by ensuring all fire risk machines are immediately removed from people’s homes.”


 Notes to editors

  • Which? wrote to the Consumer Minister in March 2019 outlining its concerns that the OPSS had not investigated any cases or engaged with any affected customers as part of their enquiry, including dozens of reports submitted by Which? of serious incidents suffered by customers whose modified Whirlpool tumble dryers showed signs of fire, smoke and burning.
  • Which? is concerned about the impartiality of the OPSS, which sits in BEIS. The OPSS has a duty to not put a burden on business, but has no duty to protect consumers.
  • There is currently no authority responsible for holding Whirpool to account, as Peterborough Trading Standards was last year stripped of its primary authority duty.

Background to the Whirlpool case

  • More than 100 Creda, Hotpoint, Indesit, Proline and Swan tumble dryer models (all brands owned by Whirlpool) made between April 2004 and October 2015 could pose a fire risk.
  • The fault in the dryers could lead to fires if excess fluff comes into contact with the heating element.
  • It’s known that at least 750 fires have been reported since 2004 that involved affected dryers.
  • The company instigated a countrywide modification programme meant to make affected dryers safe to use.
  • However, Which? has heard from more than 30 owners who have said that their ‘fixed’ tumble dryers have caught fire, produced smoke or the smell of burning.
  • There are still hundreds of thousands of unmodified fire-risk machines in people’s homes.