Are Whirlpool trustworthy again?
Apparently since the saga of its tumble dryers catching fire, the gagging orders to contain the associated bad press and its actions which were widely condemned by consumer group Which? and UK MPs, according to press in Newsweek Whirlpool is now one of the worlds most trustworthy companies?
Whilst other companies awarded the Newsweek 'Words Most Trustworthy Companies 2023' title include the likes of Samsung, LG, Siemens, V-Zug, Howdens, Villeroy & Boch and Geberit it seems that the collective memories of those at Newsweek are rather short.
For anyone who lived in a hole during 2017 to 2019 here are some of our own posts on the matter.
It should be pointed out that aside from coverage in the mainstream news (e.g. Sky, BBC, etc) that nearly every other other Kbb blog, magazine and Ezine was still gushing over everything Whirlpool and simply didnt mention the fire safety issues.
The Dailymail broke the news in 2019 that MPs savaged the kitchen appliances maker Whirlpool, accusing it of putting its reputation ahead of fixing potentially lethal tumble dryers.
The firm was slammed as ‘chilling’ and ‘dangerous’ for using gagging orders to silence tumble dryer fire victims after the Daily Mail first exposed the ‘disgraceful’ practice.
Bosses at Whirlpool whose brands include Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline were accused of putting public relations ahead of customer safety when dealing with blazes in faulty machines in news that whilst shocking was not really surprising given the continued conduct of Whirlpool in trying to minimise the impact of the vast scale of the fire risk appliances.
Given that it just seemed to be business as usual with Kbb news sites lapping up press releases of all the new Whirlpool products, it was ‘astonishing’ that no Kbb news site seemed to address that up to 800,000 potentially defective dryers were still in people’s homes four years after Whirlpool were forced to reveal the problem.
The issue has caused more than 750 UK house fires from 2004 to 2019 and the business, energy and industrial strategy committee was especially critical of the ‘lamentable’ use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) on fire victims who received compensation.
The 2019 MPs’ report warned this could stop customers sharing safety problems and leave regulators in the dark about risks amid concerns the gagging orders were being used to ‘cover up’ product safety.
We wrote back in 2019, after covering the Whirlpool Fire Safety saga for over 2 years, that we hoped firms such as Whirlpool would stop the practice of seemingly placing profits and brand reputation before consumer safety.
But given the dangerous appliances under the Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline brands that were sold in the UK for 11 years from 2004 numbered several hundreds of thousands and that no real and meaningful apology was ever made, yet much effort was done in promoting Whirlpool and its brands, it would seem that our hope fell on deaf ears.
When is enough criticism, enough?
We will be the first to say that after time, brands that make a mistake whom own up to that mistake and make amends certainly deserve a second chance but as and when they are forgiven is down to the consumer.
But this is the key element in that its impossible to find any genuine making of amends by Whirlpool and that at each and every stage of the saga, its actions have been seemingly more focused on damage limitation than anything else.
If a company such as Whirlpool has sought to avoid responsibility and to avoid accountability and avoid making amends with those affected by its historic actions, is that brand deserving of the title of being one of the world's most trusted brands?
We would expect that if Whirlpool didnt engage in so much PR work [and whether any Kbb blogs, news sites etc took payment who knows?] to drown out the fire safety press, that the memories of consumers might well be less inclined to move on and consider Whirlpool trustworthy again so soon after the issues for which it was so widely criticised.
On receiving the award, Whirlpool Corporation’s global chief legal officer said: “At Whirlpool Corporation, one of our enduring values is integrity — this means that across our global business, there is no right way to do a wrong thing."