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MPs have called on Whirlpool to offer refunds or “swift compensation” as it recalls 519,000 washing machines.

A cross-party group on consumer protection said customers had been “severely let down” owing to the delay 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.

But the company said its priority was to ensure potentially dangerous appliances were removed from homes.

About 20% 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 the brands.

Yvonne Fovargue MP, who chaired the Consumer Protection All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) 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,” said Ms Fovargue.

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

Advice for owners

Whirlpool has set up a model checker online. Owners of Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines bought since October 2014 will need to enter the model and serial number of their appliance – found inside the door or on the back – to see if it is one of those affected.

There is also a free helpline, open every day, available on 0800 316 1442.

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

“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 fire-prone machines were withdrawn from people’s homes, which was its priority. It has put in a range of plans, including hiring engineers and building up call centre staffing.

The company said it was in contact with various second-hand sales platforms to alert them to recall and ensure the affected products were not sold, as it had for the tumble dryer recall. It said very few of these appliances would still be in stock with regular retailers and should not be sold.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50867233