Business

'I've called Whirlpool 40 times and got nowhere'

Alex Acteson and her mother Chris Acteson. Image copyright Alex Acteson
Image caption Alex Acteson has phoned Whirlpool 40 times on behalf of her mother, Chris, who had a stroke two years ago

Alex Acteson gave up on Whirlpool's website once it buckled under the weight of consumers frantically trying to find out if their washing machine needed to be recalled.

Instead, on behalf of her elderly mother Chris who has a potentially fire-prone washing machine, Ms Acteson rang Whirlpool's helpline.

And she rang. And rang.

Forty phone calls later, Ms Acteson is still waiting to get through to Whirlpool. "I'm worried," she said.

Whirlpool - which owns the Hotpoint and Indesit brands - announced on Tuesday it had been forced to recall about 500,000 washing machines built between 2014 and 2018 after discovering some were a fire risk.

Customers were unable to check the safety of their machines online because of technical difficulties. The special recall website crashed immediately and only began working again on Wednesday afternoon.

At the same time, customers have been struggling to get through to the company's helpline.

Whirlpool apologised for the problems and its vice president of communications and public affairs, Jeff Noel, said on Wednesday that the recall was "now up and running".

'Duty of care'

But Ms Acteson, from Chichester in West Sussex, has been calling the phone line for hours and said she has been "hung up on", "put on hold for 25 minutes", told the phone line doesn't exist or advised to call back via a recorded message.

"They have a duty of care to look after their customers so if they are going to have a recall, at least have the systems in place to be able to have the recall," she said.

Image copyright Whirlpool
Image caption The company apologised to customers about the fault on its model checker website

Whirlpool announced on Wednesday that the recall of Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines will start on 9 January

Owners of the affected machines who register on a dedicated website will be asked from that date whether they want a repair or a replacement.

However, that is a long wait for someone like Ms Acteson's mother Chris, who is in her seventies and had a stroke two years ago.

"She doesn't need to be worried about this over Christmas," she said. "And due to the fact that she has had a stroke, things like this do worry her more than probably your average person.

"It is just not acceptable by Whirlpool."

'Unfortunate situation'

Half a million appliances need to be fixed or replaced as the door locking system can overheat.

Whirlpool said it had recorded 79 incidents in which washing machines had caught fire because of the electronic door.

Whirlpool's Mr Noel said: "It has been an unfortunate situation. It is not the way that any of us would want to start a recall, especially something so important during the holidays.

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Media captionJeff Noel said recall website was now "up and running"

"But it is such that we have done everything we can to resolve it. We've done everything we can to improve and I'm proud to say that these folks that have worked so hard, that we are up and running."

Whirlpool was already reeling after problems with fire-prone dryers.

It was heavily criticised for its initial response when more than five million tumble dryers, sold over 11 years, were found to be a fire danger. It only launched a full recall for that issue after four years, following an intervention by the regulator.

The affected washing machine models are:

FML 742P UK Hotpoint, WMAOD 743G UK Hotpoint, WMAOD 743P UK Hotpoint, WMAQB 721P UK.M Hotpoint, WMAQC 641P UK.M Hotpoint, WMAQC 741G UK Hotpoint, WMAQC 741P UK Hotpoint, WMAQC 741P UK.M Hotpoint, WMAQF 621G UK Hotpoint, WMAQF 621P UK Hotpoint, WMAQF 641 P UK.M Hotpoint, WMAQF 721G UK Hotpoint, WMAQF 721P UK.M Hotpoint, WMAQL 621G UK Hotpoint, WMBF 742G UK Hotpoint, WMBF 742K UK Hotpoint, WMBF 742P UK Hotpoint, WMBF 742P UK.M Hotpoint, WMBF 763P UK Hotpoint, WMEF 722 BC UK Hotpoint, WMEF 742 P UK Hotpoint, WMEUF 722P UK Hotpoint, WMEUF 743G UK Hotpoint, WMEUF 743P UK Hotpoint, WMFG 741P UK Hotpoint, WMFG 741P UK.M Hotpoint, WMFUG 742 P UK.M Hotpoint, WMFUG 742G UK Hotpoint, WMFUG 742P UK Hotpoint, WMFUG 842P UK.M Hotpoint, WMJLF 842P UK Hotpoint, WMJLL 742P UK Hotpoint, WMSAQG 621P UK Hotpoint, WMXTF 742G UK Hotpoint, WMXTF 742K UK Hotpoint, WMXTF 742P UK Hotpoint, WMXTF 742P UK.M Hotpoint, WMXTF 842P UK.M Hotpoint, WMYL 7151PS UK Hotpoint. XWA 81252X K UK Indesit, XWA 81252X W UK Indesit, XWD 71452X K UK Indesit 171418.

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