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Whirlpool's attitude to its faulty dryers 'regrettable', say MPs

MPs have branded Whirlpool's “attitude” regarding its faulty tumble dryers as “extremely regrettable” in a parliamentary debate following a Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee on the safety of electrical goods in the UK and the UK's product safety and product recall regimes, held in Westminster earlier this week.

Labour MP for Hammersmith Andy Slaughter acknowledged in the debate on product safety and fire risk in residential premises – brought by Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse Jim Fitzpatrick – that Whirlpool has gone to “considerable lengths” to modify the affected dryers.  However, he added that “it is absolutely clear that Whirlpool is not in the mood to do more”.

The committee held earlier in the week was attended by Whirlpool UK Appliances communications director Ian Moverley, National Fire Chiefs Council Charlie Pugsley, Which? campaigns head Pete Moorey, Electrical Safety First technical director Marytn Allen, Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances association executive Sian Lewis, and Chartered Standards Institute CEO Leon Livermore.

Regarding the committee, Slaughter said: “It was remarkable that Whirlpool turned up at all because in the two or three years of various all-party groups and committees asking it to attend, it has studiously refused and sent out the same standard letter. The Minister may want to say more about its attitude, but in terms of its accountability to Parliament, it has been extraordinarily disrespectful and continued, in the view of committee members, to show that disrespect yesterday.”

He added: “It sent not the managing director or anyone with the competence to talk about the technical side of its programme, but effectively its PR man who was able to answer very few of the questions, even the quite basic questions that I could answer. I urge the Minister to look at that and to deal with Whirlpool in the light of the attitude it continues to show.”

According to the debate, Whirlpool has estimated that there are around 1 million affected dryers still in use in the UK, although consumer group Which? and other groups have given a higher estimate of closer to 2 million.

"Safety is always our number one priority," Whirlpool said in a statement. "We continue to appeal to any remaining owners of the affected models to contact us immediately so we can modify their tumble dryers. After two years of extensive measures to raise awareness, the number of consumers coming forward has now fallen sharply.

"We have now provided resolutions for 99.9% of consumers actively registered on the programme," the company added. "We are committed to helping the Government as it continues to review Britain’s product safety system."