… hot enough to catch fire!
Tumble Dryer or Tumble ‘Fryer’?
Earlier this year we discovered that our tumble dryer – which we had only purchased a few months earlier – was one of a number of models that was a fire risk due to a design fault, not something you want to hear! The appliance was manufactured by Whirlpool under the Hotpoint brand and in response, the company issued a number of guidelines, launched a dedicated consumer helpline and a procedure for customers to register for the fault to be fixed – although we discovered this by reading our Which? magazine, the company didn’t bother to contact us. We dutifully registered our appliance with Whirlpool in April and we were told that – due to the number of customers affected and the backlog of recalls to sort out – we would hear back from their customer service team by end of June. Nine months later we were still waiting to hear! If you’d like to know more about how this national brand failed in its customer service then please read on, the story is fairly long but worth it…
Summer turns to Autumn
By October we had heard nothing at all so we phoned the helpline to see what was going on and were greeted with two options:
- We could wait for an engineer to come out and fix the machine free of charge – but this could take until March next year and they couldn’t give us a more accurate estimate than that!
- We could get a new machine, but we’d need to pay £59 for a vented model or £99 for a condenser version…
I think this is pitiful customer service and shows that they do not care for their customer’s safety at all. This is proved by the fact that they are giving guidance on ‘safe’ ways to use the dryer despite the government and London Fire Brigade advising that the machines should not be used at all. Also because they have determined that ‘legally’ this is a repair program rather than a full recall, it means they are not obliged to give refunds either.
We purchased this appliance in good faith and it has a dangerous fault that is nothing to do with us. The offer of a new dryer for £59 will be welcomed by many people whose dryers are many years old, but when our is essentially brand new, why should we pay anything at all? And how is a fire-risk not subject to a full product recall? How can it be acceptable to admit you have sold a customer an appliance that could cause a house-fire and then say that they should pay towards the cost of a replacement?
When we protested to customer services they were only able to advise us to write to head office (but they could not give us a contact name) or contact via the website. The ‘advisor’ was so poorly trained that she: could not offer us compensation; could offer no further advice; could not provide us with an alternative customer complaints number to escalate the issue to; and could not even give us a reference for the call we were on, or for the case that we were calling about!
I understand that Whirlpool stands to lose a lot of money on this issue and probably a lot of existing and future customers as well, but offering a blanket approach to those affected is simply not good enough. Yes, there are nearly 5.3 million (estimated) appliances affected so a repair program will take time, but this is not the customer’s fault and as Which? has found with their own investigations into this debacle, Whirlpool has been incredibly slow to admit the problem and slow to respond throughout.
At Pixooma we treat all our customers as individuals which means that not only do we tailor our designs to their exact needs, but in the event of an issue we also tailor our response to ensure that the customer is entirely happy with the resolution by using our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. I appreciate that Whirlpool probably cannot spend lots of time with each of the millions of customers affected in order to tailor a solution to each one, but some flexibility beyond the two ‘Like it or lump it’ solutions would be a step in the right direction…
If you are concerned that your dryer may be affected you can get more information in this Which? article.