Millions of Hotpoint and Indesit tumble dryers sold between April 2004 and September 2015 are a potential fire risk, parent company Whirlpool has warned. And now owners have been told NOT to use at-risk machines until they've been repaired, in a U-turn on the firm's previous advice.
Many have faced a wait of months for repairs. With some feeling they've hit a brick wall, this guide sets out three alternative tricks to try to get a refund or replacement.
In this guide...
The issue relates to tumble dryers sold under brand names Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan and Proline between April 2004 and September 2015. Parent company Whirlpool first warned in November 2015 that the machines were potentially dangerous.
According to the firm's safety notice, "in some rare cases, excess fluff can come into contact with the heating element and present a risk of fire". Some affected dryers have set alight, and 100s of "product failures" have been reported, although Whirlpool says the vast majority haven't resulted in any damage outside of the machine.
In total about 3.8 million dryers were initially thought to need repair. Whirlpool said at the end of February 2017 that it's fixed 1.3 million machines, so up to 2.5 million could still need repairs – but there's no precise figure and some devices will also have been taken out of service.
Some have waited months for an engineer visit. Whirlpool originally told customers that machines awaiting repair could be used under supervision. But prompted by Trading Standards, it's now updated the safety advice for affected brands and says affected tumble dryers shouldn't be used at all until they've been repaired.
Officially, Whirlpool's always said that you need to wait for a free engineer visit, and that it won't offer refunds or replacements. Yet in March 2016 we first published alternative tricks to try to get a refund or replacement – and we've been swamped with successes:
@MartinSLewis thanks for the info on the dryer problems – after getting nowhere with Hotpoint I rang John Lewis who got it sorted.
@MartinSLewis I persevered after reading your article. I had Section 75 up my sleeve and my patience paid off... new dryer now here. Thank you Martin!
If you've a Hotpoint, Indesit, Creda, Swan or Proline tumble dryer sold between April 2004 and September 2015, there's a chance your machine may be affected, and you'll need an engineer visit. Whirlpool-branded machines are not affected.
To check if your machine requires a repair, you can visit the safety websites of Hotpoint, Indesit or Swan and enter your model and serial numbers. Owners of Creda and Proline machines can check the Hotpoint website.
If your machine is affected, DON'T use it until it's been repaired. The latest advice from Whirlpool is that these dryers shouldn't be used even under supervision. It says: "You should unplug it and do not use it until the modification has taken place."
If your machine is at risk, you can follow the official advice from Hotpoint and Indesit's parent company Whirlpool – but we've also listed alternative tricks below to try to get a refund or replacement if you're stuck.
If your dryer needs repairing, you'll need to register it on the Hotpoint, Indesit or Swan safety websites, and Whirlpool says it'll arrange for an engineer to visit, free of charge. Many customers have previously faced a wait of months for this, although Whirlpool now says it's managing to cut the backlog. A spokesperson told us at the end of February 2017:
We are now very close to having provided resolutions for all those customers who have registered so far. To date, 1.5 million consumers have registered and of these, we have resolved more than 1.3 million cases. We expect all those registered to have been resolved within a matter of weeks. Typically, it now takes less than a month between a customer registering and being visited by an engineer.
Whirlpool says you shouldn't arrange for any other engineer to repair the machine, as the fault needs to be fixed by one of its engineers – and again, its advice is now that you shouldn't use your dryer until it's been looked at.
Whirlpool says it won't offer refunds or replacements, only a free repair. However it is also offering customers whose dryer is older than a year from the date of initial registration the option to buy a new machine at a hefty discount instead – though you'll need to weigh up if it's worth it.
You can choose between a vented dryer priced £59 (RRP £219) and a condenser dryer for £99 (RRP £299) – this price includes delivery and connection of the new dryer, plus removal and disposal of the old one. This option is offered once you've registered your machine via the safety websites above.
That's the official story. But if you don't want to wait for a repair, or would prefer a refund or replacement anyway, there are several alternative tricks you can try. None of these is guaranteed, but they're worth a shot and have worked for some – let us know how you get on in the forum.
Hotpoint and Indesit's parent company Whirlpool says it's only offering free repairs for affected machines, not a refund or replacement. So the official word from the company on getting a refund or replacement instead is "no".
Though some forumites have had success asking for a free replacement. For example, glentoran99 told us: "They sent me an appointment date for modification. I said I would still be concerned about the safety – they cancelled the engineer and instead booked a replacement."
How MoneySavers did it...
Since we first published these tricks last year, we've heard from lots of MoneySavers who've had success going via this route:
Took your advice, emailed them this morning. They rang early afternoon and offered me a new machine.
Others have told us that publicly complaining to Whirlpool on social media resulted in their repair date being brought forward:
I heard nothing from Hotpoint for three weeks so contacted them on Twitter and Facebook. Within the week I'd been notified an engineer would call.
Instead of trying to get a refund or replacement from Whirlpool, it's worth trying the retailer, exercising your rights under the Consumer Rights Act (or the Sale of Goods Act, which applies to goods bought before 1 October 2015).
MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis says: "Consumer rights law is very plain. Your contract is with the retailer you bought it from, not the manufacturer, and all goods you buy must follow the SAD FART rules – they must be of Satisfactory quality, As Described, Fit for purpose and last A Reasonable length of Time. If not they're defined as faulty.
"Clearly a dryer that could cause a fire in your home is not fit for purpose. What's more, you could also have problems with your home insurer – if you did have a fire because of a known fault, it might decide you're not covered.
"The law says within the first six months, it's for the shop to prove that the goods weren't faulty when you bought them. If it's been between six months and six years, it is for you to prove they were. The Hotpoint announcement can certainly be interpreted as saying the machine is faulty – and what's more, that it was faulty from the moment you bought it.
"So certainly if you bought a machine recently, it is worth going back and seeing what the store will offer you."
See our Consumer Rights guide for more on your legal rights.
How MoneySavers did it...
Many have had success with this route too:
Initially I decided to wait for a repair, but then decided to contact the shop I bought it from. They have been brilliant – refunded my money and I have selected another machine.
@MartinSLewis @MoneySavingExp great advice! We sorted our Hotpoint dryer problem with @johnlewisretail who were brilliant!
However, not everyone has had success – so while it's worth a try, it's not guaranteed:
I bought my Indesit tumble dryer in November 2013 from John Lewis. I contacted them today armed with the legal info but they are refusing to replace the machine as they say it only needs modifying.
This is another powerful trick to try, according to Martin.
"Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, if you pay for goods that cost between £100 and £30,000 and you pay for any of it on a credit card, the credit company is jointly liable with the retailer if anything goes wrong. What that means is you don't have to go to the retailer, you can choose to go to the credit card company and you have exactly the same consumer rights.
"Yet for a contentious issue like this one, there are a couple of advantages to asking for the credit card firm to sort it. The first is they have much bigger pockets and they like to get things sorted out, so it could be easier.
"However even more important is if they reject you, rather than having to take them to court you can take them to the free Financial Ombudsman Service. And it, unlike a court which only judges on the law, also judges on standard industry practice and crucially whether you've been 'treated fairly'.
"The downside here is the Ombudsman isn't a particularly quick process, but there's nothing wrong with trying this route at the same time as trying to get it resolved via Whirlpool.
"While there's no guarantee this will work, I've had successes reported to me after suggesting doing this on similar high-profile things in the past, such as PIP breast implant refunds."
For more info on how this works, and how to claim, see our Section 75 guide.
How MoneySavers did it...
This is a much longer process, but since we first published this trick we've heard from a number of users who've had success:
I made a Section 75 claim... I argued that the tumble dryer was faulty at the time of purchase. The credit card company agreed.
I got £319.99 back from the credit card company plus when Currys delivered a new tumble dryer (not Hotpoint) they took back the old faulty dryer at no cost saving a further £12.50, which they normally charge for disposing of old white goods.
I contacted NatWest Mastercard chargebacks and disputes operations and on 17 March sent them a long, detailed letter together with copies of emails and proof of purchase and asked them for a refund under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
I received their reply dated 11 April, stating that 'a credit has been applied to your account'. They did however reserve the right to contact me at a later date should their 'actions be questioned or if further information is received'. RESULT!
Have you managed to get a refund for your tumble dryer? Let us know how you got on in the forum.