Saturday, 15 December 2018

Five month wait for repair of fire risk dryer

A COUPLE have been told to wait five months for their tumble dryer to be serviced despite the manufacturer warning that it could be a fire risk

A COUPLE have been told to wait five months for their tumble dryer to be serviced despite the manufacturer warning that it could be a fire risk.

Martin Akehurst, a Henley town councillor, and his wife Glynnis bought their Hotpoint machine for £275 in October 2012 from the former Comet store at Forbury Retail Park in Reading.

The couple, of Two Tree Hill, Henley, had more than three trouble-free years using the tumble dryer until they received a product safety notice identifying a “potential safety and quality concern” with two types of tumble dryers manufactured between April 2004 and September 2015.

The letter said: “In some rare cases, excess fluff can come into contact with the heating element and present a risk of fire.

“Product safety has always been — and will always be — our chief concern at Hotpoint/Indesit/Creda, so we are taking action to address this issue.

“We are activating an extensive consumer outreach and service action plan in order to provide our consumers with products that are updated to higher safety and quality standards.

“We will arrange a visit from an engineer, free of charge, to modify your appliance. The call will take approximately one hour. The improvements will further enhance the safety and quality of your dryer.”

Mr Akehurst, 67, a former Henley Mayor, registered his details online the day he received the letter.

He then rang the help hotline and was told an engineer would be able to visit in July.

Mr Akehurst said: “For the last 12 years they have had problems with their tumble dryers. I can’t believe they have only just realised this.

“Within three hours of getting the letter I put all the details online but I heard nothing and I must have phoned them at least five times but could not get through or it just rang.

“I got through to them last Wednesday and was told that Hotpoint would contact me in July. It is appalling. They don’t seem to be putting in enough resources to go out and fix it.”

Hotpoint has said that the affected dryers can still be used but should not be left unattended during operation. It also reminded owners to clean out the lint filter after each use, as outlined in the user manual.

Mr Akehurst said he wanted to highlight the issue as the problem is made worse by people inheriting or buying tumble dryers second-hand, so they would not be traceable by the manufacturers.

“People may have moved house or sold on their unit,” he said. “All you have to do is miss cleaning it a few times, for good reasons, and you are in danger. There must be a lot of people out there who are not aware of this problem.”

The Akehursts are making do with their tumble dryer until they buy a new one.

“We are using it carefully,” said Mr Akehurst. “We paid £275 for it but you couldn’t give it away now.

“I think this has damaged a very well-known brand and that brand will not be top of my list or even on my list when I get a new one.” More than five million faulty Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit dryers have been sold since 2011. Whirlpool bought the brands in 2014 but only issued a product alert in November.

After being contacted by the Henley Standard, Whirlpool offered the Akehursts a new date of February 29.

A spokesman said: “Given the large number of dryers affected, we have experienced some delays in replying and we apologise for this inconvenience. We are currently working to address the situation and improve response times.

“For the repair programme, we are working on a first registered, first served basis. Currently, if a consumer registers today, we will be in contact, on average, within 10 weeks to provide an estimated date for an engineer visit.

“We estimate that around five million potentially affected dryer models have been sold in the UK since April 2004. All consumers are eligible for a free of charge repair. For those with a dryer older than one year, we are also offering the additional option of a new replacement machine at less than one-third of the recommended retail price.”

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