Britain

Whirlpool ‘silenced’ victims of dryer fires with gagging clauses

Whirlpool has been condemned for using controversial gagging clauses to "silence customers" who had been fire victims of its faulty tumble dryers.

MPs said it was "disgraceful" the manufacturer made householders sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and called for it to stop.

The report by the Commons business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) committee noted "the chilling effect such legal devices have" and branded the practice as "dangerous", because watchdogs would be unaware of safety problems.

Image: Whirlpool launched a large recall in July

The report also found it "astonishing" that there were still up to 800,000 faulty machines in people's homes four years after the Whirlpool revealed they posed a fire hazard.

The committee criticised the firm for its slow response in fixing or replacing defective items and also highlighted doubts over the safety of the modification to address the fault.

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MPs said the company's approach to safety was further exposed with its "improbable suggestion" that the Grenfell fire, was caused by a stray cigarette rather than one of its fridges, as the police found.

The company finally launched a full recall involving 500,000 dryers in July following a lengthy "safety campaign" that saw 1.7 million products modified.

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The recall relates to certain models of Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline dryers built between 2004 and 2015.

However, Whirlpool admitted to MPs earlier this year that the true number of faulty tumble dryers in homes across the country could be 800,000 and it was working hard to modify those affected.

Whirlpool also 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 updated.

The committee report stated: "It is astonishing that four years after Whirlpool revealed defects in its tumble dryers there could still be up to 800,000 such machines in people's homes.

"The programme to modify or replace such machines has been too slow, while doubts have now emerged over the safety of its modification to address this defect.

"Rather than dealing with this properly, Whirlpool have used non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to silence customers and have sought to deflect the concerns of safety organisations, customers and this committee."

Committee chairwoman RachelRead More – Source