Faulty tumble dryers: More than 40,000 sign recall petition

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Media caption,

Emma McGrath and her family are living in a two-bedroom flat after their tumble dryer caught fire.

More than 40,000 people have signed a parliamentary petition to force Whirlpool to recall three million potentially dangerous tumble dryers.

The manufacturer has advised millions of owners to unplug their machines, but has refused to issue a safety recall.

The dryers, sold under the Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit brands, have been blamed for a number of fires, including one in a London tower block.

The government must respond to petitions that get 10,000 signatures.

If the total reaches 100,000, there has to be a debate in parliament.

Whirlpool has insisted that its offer to repair all the affected machines is the most effective way to solve the problem.

Image source, Thinkstock
Image caption,
Excess fluff can come into contact with the heating element on faulty machines

The dryers subject to the Whirlpool repair programme were manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015 under the Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline brands.

But consumer group Which? is demanding that all the machines are recalled, with customers being given a refund.

It has started legal action against Trading Standards in Peterborough, which has backed Whirlpool's decision not to order a recall.

In addition, 75,000 people have signed Which's own petition asking Whirlpool to do more.

Is your dryer affected?

Image source, Thinkstock

Whirlpool freephone helplines: 0800 151 0905 for the UK, or 1800 804320 for the Irish Republic

In the meantime, owners have been left wondering what to do about the machines they can no longer use.

Many are in the queue to receive a free repair, but waiting lists are said to be up to a year.

Ben Ebdon, who bought a dryer in John Lewis, said he could not get his repaired because the serial number is not being recognised.

"I think our dryer may be very dangerous - but Whirlpool say they don't recognise it, so can't repair it," he told the BBC.

"Scary! We are totally in limbo."

Don Kiddle, from Bidford on Avon, said Whirlpool had refused to replace his Indesit dryer until he wrote to his MP.

"I contacted my local MP, Nadhim Zawalhi. He in turn wrote to the chief executive and surprisingly enough we were contacted by the company who delivered a brand new tumble dryer and took the old one away. The item was at zero cost too."

Media caption,

Could your dryer catch fire?

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 48 Fire Brigades in England and Wales, said Whirlpool should begin a "mass publicity" campaign to warn people not to use their dryers.

Whirlpool has written to 3.8 million owners of the affected dryers, offering repairs, but as many as 2.4 million have not responded.

The LGA repeated warnings that faulty tumble dryers are causing three fires a day, although not all of these are Whirlpool machines.

"For needless months, consumers have been playing 'Russian roulette' with at-risk tumble dryers prone to bursting into flames and destroying homes, and with firefighters attending three fires a day caused by the appliances," said Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA's safer and stronger communities board.

The London Fire Brigade alone said it was attending a tumble dryer fire once a day on average.

Which? said that dryers were the second biggest cause of house fires, causing 12% of them.

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