In November 2015, Indesit, Creda and Hotpoint hit the headlines when an appliance alert was raised, warning millions of families that their tumble dryers could be a potential fire hazard. The alert was issued by Indesit, one of the leading manufacturers in the UK, following a series of household blazes. Customers were advised that the problem was that material fluff would accumulate in the filter, which is very close to the heating element on these models. The manufacturer stated that it would be sending engineers out to modify the dryers to eliminate the fire risk.
Understandably, a product recall alert will initiate a high level of concern and reporting of potentially hazardous appliances. It has since been claimed that the average waiting time for an inspection by an engineer can be as long as eight weeks and while no exact figure has been given as to the number of appliances affected, it is thought to be a significant amount and certainly to reach into the thousands.
One of the key difficulties in these scenarios is that, if an appliance is found to be dangerous, manufacturers issue a safety notice to alert owners, but knowing who owns their products can prove problematic as the UK has had no central register to identify who buys and owns appliances. It has today been announced that this is about to change, with the Retail Ombudsman confirming that the UK is to establish its first product recall register.
Charlene McAuliffe, a personal injury lawyer at Penningtons Manches, said: “Manufacturers are under a duty of strict liability where customers suffer injury as a result of a defective product. Often the impact of these injuries can be devastating to the individual and to the home itself. Consumers place their utmost faith in the safety of household appliances and it is always a concern when speculation is the only tool available to determine how many households may be affected by a defective product. We are so pleased to learn of the introduction of the central register - the public will now have access to clear information as to which products are being recalled and with detailed reasons as to why. Such measures can help in the prevention of household fires and the distressing consequences which can follow.”