Whirlpool today urgently recalled over half a million Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines – but not until January with customers told to just unplug them over Christmas.
The firm said as many as 519,000 washing machines sold in the UK between October 2014 and February 2018 could be affected by the flaw with the door-locking system that could lead to them overheating and potentially catching fire.
It urged owners of appliances bought since 2014 to contact Whirlpool immediately to check if their washing machine is one of the models affected, acknowledging that the timing of the alert would cause ‘inconvenience and concern’ to hundreds of thousands of consumers over the Christmas period.
Whirlpool said as many as 519,000 washing machines sold under the Hotpoint and Indesit brands in the UK between October 2014 and February 2018 could be affected by a flaw with the door-locking system. Pictured is a Hotpoint washing machine
Whirlpool said it was working at ‘full speed’ as it prepares to officially begin the recall in early January.
In the meantime, it advised consumers to unplug their washing machines and not use them.
Those who chose to continue using their machines should only use cold water cycles of 20C or lower as this significantly reduces the risk, Whirlpool said.
Are you affected by the recall?
This is because the issue is associated with the washing machine’s heating element being activated during washing cycles above 20C.
Under the recall, all affected customers will have the choice of either a free-of-charge like-for-like replacement washing machine, or a free-of-charge in-home repair of their existing appliance.
Whirlpool Corporation vice president Jeff Noel said: ‘We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience and concern this may cause to our customers, particularly over the Christmas period, but we hope people will understand that we are taking action because people’s safety is our top priority.
‘Preparing for a recall of this scale is a complex operation and we are working tirelessly to ensure we are ready to start offering replacements or repairs to our customers from early January.’
Sue Davies, strategic policy adviser at consumer group Which?, said: ‘This safety alert will cause huge disruption for millions of people who will have no washing machine over Christmas, and following the tumble dryer scandal, leaves Whirlpool’s reputation as a company that can be trusted on product safety in tatters.
‘People will rightly be asking what Whirlpool knew about these fire-risk machines and when, so there must now be a thorough investigation into this public safety issue. We know the company has a track record for appearing to put corporate reputation ahead of public safety in its disgraceful handling of the unsafe tumble dryer crisis.’
Your rights: What you will be entitled to under the recall
If you own one of the washing machine models listed in the box below, you will have the right to either of the following:
- A free of charge like for like replacement washing machine
- A free of charge in home repair of your existing appliance.
Consumers can check if their washing machine is affected by visiting https://washingmachinerecall.whirlpool.co.uk. This site includes an online model checker tool, as well as a full list of model numbers.
Alternatively, customers can call Whirlpool’s freephone hotline 0800 316 1442 where an adviser can assist with checking their model and providing further information.
To check if a washing machine is potentially affected, customers will need both the model number and the serial number of the appliance. Both of these codes can be found inside the door, or alternatively on a label on the rear of the appliance.
Whirlpool said the issue was identified by its safety team, adding that ‘no serious injuries have been reported’.
The latest recall comes after the company finally launched a full recall involving 500,000 dryers in July.
The company acted after being criticised for resisting demands for a full recall and instead carrying out a lengthy ‘safety campaign’ that saw 1.7 million products modified instead.
Whirlpool has urged owners of appliances bought since 2014 to contact them immediately to check if their washing machine is one of the models affected. Pictured are their Michigan headquarters
How Whirlpool’s tumble dryers were linked to hundreds of fires
Whirlpool has repeatedly been hit by claims its products have caused fires, and in July were forced to recall dozens of tumble dryer models.
More than five million machines had a design fault that has caused at least 750 household fires since 2004, many driving families out of their homes.
Earlier this year, MPs took evidence over the scandal that has seen 1.7 million products modified.
One witness Jemma Spurr, a victim whose modified dryer caught fire, told politicians she was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement about the incident, which MPs said was used for ‘shutting people up’.
In July, Whirlpool finally agreed to recall thousands of tumble dryers from British homes after they were linked to hundreds of fires. Pictured is Jenny Spur’s Whirlpool tumble drier, after it caught fire at her home in Hampshire – forcing her to flee with her young children
Whirlpool had agreed to pay her more than £11,000 only after she signed a document agreeing not to discuss the fire with anyone, including broadcasters and social media.
‘It felt 100 per cent they were trying to keep us quiet, it’s disgusting,’ said Miss Spurr. ‘How can you not speak about something like that after what you’ve been through?’
Despite her misgivings, she said she felt she had to sign the non-disclosure agreement because she could not afford to lose the settlement.
Miss Spurr’s dryer was modified two years before her fire broke out.
But in September 2018, just after returning from the school run, she noticed a burning smell in the house while the machine was on in the garage attached to her kitchen.
She was given an apology by Whirlpool’s communications chief Jeff Noel. He said: ‘I apologise to you for whatever distress this situation has caused to you, to your family, to your loved ones and your neighbours.’
The Government previously threatened to force Whirlpool to recall their machines in an ‘unprecedented intervention’.
That earlier recall related to certain models of Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline dryers built between 2004 and 2015.
In November, MPs said it was ‘extraordinary’ that as many as 800,000 of the defective dryers could still remain in people’s homes four years after Whirlpool revealed they were a fire risk.
A Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee investigation into the firm criticised the company for its slow response in modifying or replacing faulty machines while also condemning the firm’s use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to ‘silence customers’.
Whirlpool had earlier revealed that, in recent years, it had logged 54 fires in its tumble dryers and admitted that three of those were models which had already been modified.
The BEIS committee also expressed concerns, shared by safety organisations, about the safety of Whirlpool’s modification.
The report called on the Government to press ahead with a new review of the safety of Whirlpool’s modification and to investigate other possible sources of fires in Whirlpool’s tumble dryers.
The BEIS report followed Grenfell Tower inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick saying he had ‘no doubt’ that the fire was started by an electrical fault in a Hotpoint fridge-freezer, and dismissed a ‘fanciful’ claim by Whirlpool that the fire could have been sparked by a discarded cigarette.
In July, Whirlpool finally agreed to recall thousands of tumble dryers from British homes after they were linked to hundreds of fires.
There were as many as 800,000 appliances across the UK that will need replacing, MailOnline understands, landing the US company with a multi-million pound bill.
Under the recall, consumers with an unmodified, affected tumble dryer will be entitled to a new replacement machine. This will be delivered and installed, with the old one removed, all at no cost.
The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) said Whirlpool had also agreed to deliver wide ranging publicity of the product recall aimed at reaching affected consumers and driving up awareness, guarantee no charges for delivery, installation or removal of machines and provide the OPSS with ‘timely’ reporting of progress.
Are you affected by the recall? Contact email@example.com
Full list of recalled Whirlpool and Indesit branded washing machine models
Here is a full list of the models involved in the Whirlpool recall of fire-risk Hotpoint and Indesit branded washing machines.
The models are listed by their commercial code, followed by the brand name.
FML 742P UK Hotpoint
WMAOD 743G UK Hotpoint
WMAOD 743P UK Hotpoint
WMAQB 721P UK.M Hotpoint
WMAQC 641P UK.M Hotpoint
WMAQC 741G UK Hotpoint
WMAQC 741P UK Hotpoint
WMAQC 741P UK.M Hotpoint
WMAQF 621G UK Hotpoint
WMAQF 621P UK Hotpoint
WMAQF 641 P UK.M Hotpoint
WMAQF 721G UK Hotpoint
WMAQF 721P UK.M Hotpoint
WMAQL 621G UK Hotpoint
WMBF 742G UK Hotpoint
WMBF 742K UK Hotpoint
WMBF 742P UK Hotpoint
WMBF 742P UK.M Hotpoint
WMBF 763P UK Hotpoint
WMEF 722 BC UK Hotpoint
WMEF 742 P UK Hotpoint
WMEUF 722P UK Hotpoint
WMEUF 743G UK Hotpoint
WMEUF 743P UK Hotpoint
WMFG 741P UK Hotpoint
WMFG 741P UK.M Hotpoint
WMFUG 742 P UK.M Hotpoint
WMFUG 742G UK Hotpoint
WMFUG 742P UK Hotpoint
WMFUG 842P UK.M Hotpoint
WMJLF 842P UK Hotpoint
WMJLL 742P UK Hotpoint
WMSAQG 621P UK Hotpoint
WMXTF 742G UK Hotpoint
WMXTF 742K UK Hotpoint
WMXTF 742P UK Hotpoint
WMXTF 742P UK.M Hotpoint
WMXTF 842P UK.M Hotpoint
WMYL 7151PS UK Hotpoint
XWA 81252X K UK Indesit
XWA 81252X W UK Indesit
XWD 71452X K UK Indesit