The kitchen appliance industry could be placed under close scrutiny. Consumer watchdog Which? is calling on the Government to collect information on house fires, caused by faulty appliances, by brand.
While some fire brigades already collate information on makes and models of appliances, it is not a statutory requirement in the UK and is not readily available to the public. Which? wants greater transparency to ‘alert manufacturers to faulty appliance and give consumers greater protection against these appliances’.
No-one would question the importance of safety for kitchen appliances. Of course the information would be useful for manufacturers to stop the issue ever re-occuring. But how could this information be passed to consumers without incurring widespread, national panic?
It is distressing enough when particular models, by particular manufacturers, have been the cause of household fires and worse still injury or death. Although one fire is too many, just how many cases or what percentage of fires would require a witch hunt?
When it was widely reported, last year, that selected Beko frost-free fridge freezers had been the cause of household fires in the capital, the manufacturer was already working with the London Fire Brigade, Trading Standards, had informed retailers and was using social media to contact customers. That’s before it had to increase its customer call centre five-fold to deal with incoming calls, following the publicity.
And herein lies the second issue, when would consumers actually be informed? Would it be on a weekly, monthly, yearly basis? Surely a major problem in providing statistics on appliances that may pose a fire risk lies in the fact they have to first be bought, and then installed, before any potential incident could occur. So in reality, how useful could this information be to consumers? And in fact, would the information be that accurate anyway, when an appliance model cannot be identified because it’s been ravaged by fire?
Consumer safety is of major importance to all the kitchen (and bathroom, for that matter) professionals. And I’m sure that no matter where you work in the supply chain, all of you will endeavour to make home design as safe as possible. I just wouldn’t want to see the kitchen appliance industry held up as a scapegoat, with statistics created to provide a shocking headline for the sake of tabloid readers in ‘appalled’ middle England.
The above artilce was from Kitchens & Bathrooms magazine, News Editor Philippa Turrell
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