One thing that continues to allude us here at Kitchens-Kitchens was just how the hell Whirlpool managed to avoid a significant backlash to the growing and deepening scandal surrounding the fire risk of its products?
Given to date Whirlpool still have 1m fire risk appliances in UK homes, have been seen to obstruct and delay investigations, have never issued a recall and also sought to sweep it all under the carpet were it not for consumer group Which? threatening legal action, who the hell keeps buying Whirlpool products?
Whirlpool Share Price Dip
The above is fairly atypical of a ‘correction’ as the stock price dipped from $182.50 down the 23rd down to $160.94 on 25th October 2017 which is a drop of $21.56 or nearly 12% in little over a day.
Sears 100+ year Whirlpool Relationship Ends
Whilst various US analysts point to an “earnings miss” for the quarter ending in October, others were quick to point out that US shoppers will no longer be able to buy Whirlpool, KitchenAid or Maytag appliances at Sears, the department store that has had a relationship with Whirlpool for over 100 years!
Whilst both sides attribute the relationship ending to ‘pricing differences’ could this not be resolved?
When one store such as Sears is responsible for 3% of sales for the corporate giant that is Whirlpool, try as the PR’s might to limit the significance, but this is a huge event.
Given the overwhelming evidence of product safety issues and Whirlpool’s apathy towards its customers could it not be conceivable that perhaps some retailers would now be thinking twice about stocking and selling Whirlpool for fear of negative brand damage to their own brands?
Sears named in Whirlpool Class Action Suits
Given that Sears was named in the $100m class action suit of Chambers, et al. v. Whirlpool Corporation, Sears Holdings Corp. and Sears, Roebuck & Co, and another suit in Canada in September 2013, it does add more credibility to the theory that Sears is fearful of history repeating itself.
In terms of brand reputation it is still surprising just how Whirlpool have managed to keep from a monumental free fall or as public a trashing as United Airlines did over the Dr David Dao incident?
Maytag recall in U.S.
In 2009, Maytag, another brand of Whirlpool recalled 1.6 million fire-prone refrigerators in the United States. The company said at the time that an electrical failure in the relay, the component that turns on the refrigerator’s compressor, can cause overheating and pose a serious fire hazard.
At the time, Maytag said it had received 41 reports of refrigerator relay ignition, including 16 reports of property damage ranging from smoke damage to extensive kitchen damage and as such a recall was put into effect.
Whirlpool Contempt for UK?
So then, let us contrast the Maytag and UK events. With Maytag in the US there was no deaths (thankfully), 16 reports of fire damage and 1.6m affected products and a recall was issued yet in the UK, 5m+ products affected, just shy of over 70 deaths, and no recall? For many people that would constitute ‘contempt’.
Why haven’t Whirlpool Recalled?
One theory that Whirlpool are risking such a hit to its brand reputation and being less than co-operative is simply that it may be aware of a much bigger problem at hand and that quite simply it cannot at present afford to make right the huge scale of issues it faces as to recall at risk and potentially at risk products in all its markets would simply bankrupt the company and so as some have suggested, it is seeking to compartmentalize the growing issue on a country by country basis, making use of the slow and unrelated regulatory processes in the countries its products are available, in order to give Whirlpool more time to figure out how it is going to survive?