COMMONS

BEIS Committee publish Whirlpool correspondence

23 July 2019

The letters cover a variety of issues relating to safety fears about defective Whirlpool tumble-dryers, including the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), the recall of unmodified tumble-dryers, and concerns about the effectiveness of Whirlpool’s modification programme.

On Tuesday morning the BEIS Committee heard from Lynn Faulds Wood, consumer campaigner and author of UK Consumer Product Recall: An independent Review, and questioned Kelly Tolhurst, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, and the Office of Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) on their approach to ensuring the safety of electrical goods and on  the effectiveness of their response to ongoing safety concerns about Whirlpool’s tumble dryers.

Witnesses

 At 9.45am 

Tuesday 23 July, Thatcher Room, Portcullis House

Panel 1

  • Lynn Faulds Wood, author of UK Consumer Product Recall: An independent Review

 At 10am

Panel 2

  • Kelly Tolhurst, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility
  • Graham Russell MBE, CEO, Office for Product Safety and Standards

The meeting is available to watch on demand on Parliament TV 

Background on the BEIS Committee’s work on safety concerns around Whirlpool tumble-dryers

Questions around Whirlpool’s handling of customer complaints, the safety of the modification to defective machines, and concerns about the use of confidentiality clauses or Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) were raised during the BEIS Committee’s recent evidence hearing (on 2nd July) with senior Whirlpool representatives and a panel of witnesses including Jemma Spurr, a Whirlpool customer, and Which?, London Fire Brigade, and Electrical Safety First.

The BEIS Committee recently launched an online survey to hear from Whirlpool customers about problems they may have experienced with their defective tumble-dryers and also on whether they may have been approached to sign confidentiality clauses or Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) in compensation cases.

Rachel Reeves, Chair of the BEIS Committee, also wrote (PDF PDF 576 KB) to Whirlpool to press the company on a number of issues regarding their handling of the modification to defective machines, their approach to customer complaints, and the extent of their use of NDAs or confidentiality clauses. This correspondence was sent prior to the announcement of a recall of non-modified machines.

In May 2018, Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, called for the Government’s Office for the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to consider a full recall of defective Whirlpool machines, following a series of potentially deadly safety issues with its tumble-dryers. Rachel Reeves wrote to Andrew Griffiths, then Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, to press the Minister on what actions the Government and OPSS were taking to ensure Whirlpool were making defective and modified tumble-dryers safe.

 This was only the latest in a series of correspondence and activity from the BEIS Committee on this issue which followed on from the BEIS Committee’s earlier report on the safety of electrical goods in the UK, published on 16 January 2018. The report is available here.

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