1 Million Whirlpool Dryers That Can Cause Fires Are Still Being Used
The appliance-maker Whirlpool has admitted that a million of its tumble dryers that have an associated fire risk are still being used in the U.K.
The risk, which applies to some older dryers sold under the Hotpoint, Creda, and Indesit brands, first came to light a couple of years ago. In February this year, Whirlpool (WHR) finally admitted the fire risk and warned customers that they should stop using the machines.
However, despite some of the dryers causing fires in which at least two people died, a million are still being used, Whirlpool told irate lawmakers. What’s more, the manufacturer admitted that it was told about the fire risk in 2012, but continued to make the same dryers for the following three years.
“How many fires are needed for a proper recall of these tumble dryers?” Rachel Reeves, the chair of the British government’s business committee, asked a Whirlpool representative according to a BBC report. “We have already seen a number of fires and deaths, yet in many of our homes we still have these appliances.”
The representative in question was Ian Moverley, Whirlpool UK’s communications director—the parliamentarians were also unhappy that the company did not send someone more senior to answer their questions.
The dangerous machines have faulty heating elements that can cause fires if they come into contact with excess lint.
Moverley claimed the firm had “worked proactively to identify the safety issue and worked closely with Trading Standards to determine what action would be taken.” He said Whirlpool has only managed to fix half of the unsafe appliances since 2015.
Trading Standards is a state consumer protection agency. It initially told Whirlpool in 2015 that it did not need to tell customers to stop using the machines, so Whirlpool told people they were safe as long as someone was keeping an eye on them.
After the consumer protection publication Which? threatened Trading Standards with legal action, it changed its tune. It was only then that Whirlpool told customers to unplug the dryers.
“Consumer safety is always our number one priority,” Whirlpool said in a statement. “We are committed to helping the government as it continues to review Britain’s product safety system.”
Those in the U.K. who are concerned about their dryers should call Whirlpool on 0800 151 0905. The number for the Republic of Ireland is 1800 804320.
Fortune has asked Trading Standards for comment, but the body had not responded at the time of writing.
This article was updated to include Whirlpool’s statement.