Calls for Peterborough-based Whirlpool to compensate customers after recalling 500,000 fire-risk washing machines

Politicians have called on Peterborough-based manufacturing company Whirlpool to offer “swift compensation” to customers after it recalled over half a million washing machines.

Sunday, 22nd December 2019, 3:42 pm

MPs are putting pressure on the company to provide refunds or other kinds of financial recompense after 519,000 appliances were recalled amid revelations that they could pose a fire safety risk.

Customers were told to unplug Hotpoint and Indesit washers after it emerged that the door locking systems on them could overheat.

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Whirlpool in Woodston

Worried owners complained about how the company was dealing with the matter after struggling for 24 hours to access a recall website and check whether their machine was a fire risk.

Whirlpool, based in Morley Way in Woodston, apologised for the safety issue and IT glitch, explaining that its website was blighted by technical difficulties.

But a cross-party group on consumer protection has now criticised the manufacturer, saying its customers have been “severely let down” because of delays until machines are fixed or replaced.

The former head of the Commons Business Committee has also demanded the company give refunds to those who want them.

Whirlpool said, however, that its priority was to ensure potentially dangerous appliances were removed from homes.

About 20 per cent of the Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines sold since 2014 are affected by a safety fault. Up to 519,000 washing machines sold in the UK need to be recalled, a process that will start in early January.

Seventy-nine fires are thought to have been caused by an overheating door locking system, a fault which develops over time, according to Whirlpool, which owns both brands.

Yvonne Fovargue MP, who chaired the Consumer Protection All Party Parliamentary Group in the last Parliament and Carolyn Harris MP, who chaired the Electrical Safety APPG in the last Parliament, said that Whirlpool appeared to have learned little from its handling of a safety problem regarding tumble dryers.

“Whirlpool’s advice to affected customers simply not to use the machines until repaired or replaced is wholly inadequate, particularly in the busy holiday period when families are at home,” Ms Fovargue told BBC News.

“It appears that once again customer trust is being abused and eroded. Whirlpool should swiftly compensate customers who have been severely let down.”

Meanwhile the MP for Leeds West, Rachel Reeves, who chaired the Business Committee in the last Parliament that investigated the Whirlpool saga, called for those affected by the washing machine recall to be offered a refund, rather than just a replacement or repair.

“I understand Whirlpool is refusing to offer refunds to consumers hit by this latest safety problem in what seems to be a never-ending saga,” she said.

“That refusal will further damage consumer confidence and shows a lack of respect for the people on whom Whirlpool’s profits depend.”

The company said that a refund would not ensure the unsafe machines were withdrawn from people’s homes, which was its priority. It has put in a range of plans, including building up call centre staffing and hiring engineers.

Whirlpool also said it was also in contact with various second-hand sales platforms to alert them to recall and ensure the affected products were not sold.