‘Tumble dryer debacle exposes failures in product safety system’

Which? wants Peterborough Trading Standards to conduct a fresh, independent assessment. Photograph: Getty
Which? wants Peterborough Trading Standards to conduct a fresh, independent assessment. Photograph: Getty
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Product safety issues which are potentially life-threatening have to be taken seriously.

This is why we at Which? have been pushing for more action to be taken after it was revealed that a Whirlpool tumble dryer was to blame for a fire in an 18-storey tower block in London’s Shepherd’s Bush last year.

It was an investigation by the London Fire Brigade which pointed the finger squarely at the appliance. The faulty tumble dryers are subject to a modification programme because they pose a fire risk. The models affected are Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Proline or Swan.

Whirlpool is currently in the process of fixing the faulty dryers, but this has been happening far too slowly, given the gravity of the risk to consumers.

At Which? we feel the public has been let down not just by Whirlpool but by the actions of Peterborough Trading Standards – the branch of Trading Standards which deals with Whirlpool’s Peterborough HQ. We believe that notwithstanding Peterborough Trading Standards’ primary authority relationship with Whirlpool, they did not properly consider their duty as an enforcer of product safety laws.

As a result we have started legal action to challenge Peterborough Trading Standards’ behaviour. We’ve asked the High Court to assess whether the authority’s actions have been lawful.

We want Peterborough Trading Standards to conduct a fresh, independent assessment of the risks posed to consumers by the faulty Whirlpool dryers – and not shy away from enforcement action if it is needed.

If the High Court grants us permission to bring a judicial review, a court hearing should be held this year.

But the problem goes deeper – it appears that the product safety system is failing customers and must therefore be reconsidered by the government.

If you’ve had an issue with a product that hasn’t been resolved email askalex@which.co.uk