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Published on May 20th, 2016 | by The GC Team

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Which? calls on Whirlpool to “clean up its act”

Which? has called on Whirlpool to “clean up its act” after an undercover investigation revealed “multiple failings” by the company in dealing with customers owning fire-risk tumble dryers that were subject to a multiple-brand product recall in November 2015.

Which? accused the company of “delays”, “confusion” and “withholding information”, stating that it was consistently told during the investigation that it would take 8-12 weeks to get a customer ID before anything can happen – “something that should be done at the push of a button,” it added.

It also reported that 32% of people surveyed who opted for a repair, rather than purchasing a reduced-price replacement, were told they would have to wait six months or more.

The consumer group said it found that consumers are being pushed from pillar to post. “On our mystery shop phone calls when posing as a consumer with a nine month-old dryer, we were repeatedly told to take up a claim for a replacement with the retailer. Many of our 40 case studies tried this route and were told to take this up with Whirlpool.”

Which? also accused Whirlpool of withholding information, stating that the company  has still not published a complete list of the affected models – at least 127 Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Proline and Swan dryers – leaving the burden on consumers to find out if their machine is affected.

Alex Neill, Which? Director of Policy and Campaigns, said: “Whirlpool customers rightly feel dissatisfied with how they’ve been treated, being faced with delays, confusion and a lack of information. Whirlpool must clean up its act and sort this mess out.

“This case, affecting millions, clearly highlights the problems with the current product safety regulations. The Government must act swiftly to simplify the system and close the loopholes that allow companies to leave consumers without the basic information and advice they need.”

In its defence, Whirlpool told Which?: “The safety of our customers is our number one priority. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that the modification programme is being carried out in a safe and timely manner.

“The scale of this modification programme is considerable and we’re continually looking into alternative options which will allow us to progress the programme at a faster pace. As a result we continue to recruit extra engineers and call centre staff to speed up the modification programme.”

Which? said it has submitted the evidence gathered during the investigation to the Government’s new steering group, established following the Lynn Faulds Wood review.

“We are asking it to review the Whirlpool case, look at how existing law applies in these situations and make practical recommendations to improve the product recall system within the next month,” the consumer group commented.

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