A mum has been left living in a smoke-damaged home with her young children after her washing machine caught fire. Amanda Tucker was at home in Spondon with her four-year-old son when she noticed thick white smoke coming from her kitchen.
She said the washing machine had caught fire minutes after she had put a normal cycle on, forcing her to rush out of the house with her young son. Amanda, who works for Motus Commercials, bought the washing machine in 2017 for around £300. In 2019, the door lock needed replacing, and Amanda sought a local businessman to come and fix it.
But Whirlpool has blamed the incident on “poorly performed“ third-party repair – an accusation the experienced tradesman denies – and has only compensated Amanda the cost of the machine itself. It has refused to release the report of its investigation into the cause of the fire despite her request.
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A Whirlpool spokesman said: “The incident that occurred originated in the vicinity of the spliced wiring, resulting in damage to the internal parts and the console. Our records show that none of our own engineers attended a service call to this machine either at the consumer’s address or indeed to this machine at any address.In summary, we believe that this incident was caused by the poorly performed replacement of the door lock by an unknown third party and we confirmed our conclusions to Mrs Tucker.”
Amanda described what she was doing when the fire first broke out – and how she had to grab her son before escaping into the street.
She said: “I was just cleaning and pottering and I put a wash on. I went into the dining room to do some paperwork and my son was in the living room, and about five minutes after I had put the washing on, I could smell something, a really bad smell.I ignored it for a minute as I thought someone was burning something outside, and then a couple of minutes later the smell had got worse.
“I went into the living room to see if I could see anything, then went into my hallway and that’s when I realized my kitchen was full of white smoke which was billowing out into the hallway. I panicked. I couldn’t see any of my units in my kitchen, which are black, I just couldn’t see anything, I grabbed my son and my phone and ran out into the street and rang the fire brigade.
“The worktop had just started to catch fire. My kitchen was completely smoke damaged and I had just had my hall, stairs and landing decorated, and that was all blackened and smoke damaged. My three-piece suite was smoke-damaged, the kitchen is water damaged too from the water in the washing machine and the water used by the fire brigade.There’s quite a lot of damage that I have been left with, because we didn’t know whether someone would be sent out to assess the damage, so I have left it as it was.”
Two fire engines were dispatched to the scene on the day, in the afternoon of Wednesday, March 16, and Amanda immediately rang Whirlpool, which owns Hotpoint, to inform it of what had happened. She says she was honest and upfront about the third-party repair as she didn’t feel she had anything to hide.
Amanda had to immediately purchase a new washing machine as she needed one straight away, which was not a Hotpoint model. At the time, Amanda and her family de ella did not have insurance as it had expired, which left her “heartbroken” and she estimates that the cost of repairing the damage to her family home could run into tens of thousands of pounds.
Whirlpool paid Amanda £225 for the machine, which it collected on April 13. It then conducted a product safety investigation, the results of which were returned to Amanda on May 24.
The investigation concluded that the third-party repair was to blame, but Whirlpool refused to release the report itself as it was confidential. It said that while the machine could be returned for Amanda if she wished to have it forensically examined, she would have to pay for this herself.
Amanda said the washing machine was around five years old at the time of the fire and that she had it repaired around three years ago. She added that the appliance was not among the Whirlpool models that have been recalled.
Amanda says she believes Whirlpool is at fault. She also wants the machine to be independently looked at to find the cause of the fire.
“It seems to me that because I’ve told them about the repair, they’ve tried to pass the buck. I have spoken to the independent engineer and had an extensive conversation with him. But now Whirlpool won’t share the report with me, but they have paid me out.To me that accepts liability, as why would they pay for the washing machine before they have even conducted any sort of investigation?
“I’ve been living with the damage. I’m constantly cleaning but even still you can smell it in the air as it has been left. We had just had our hall, stairs and landing done, we were moving on to bigger problems in the house, and I spend a lot of time in my kitchen and it looks dirty to me, it’s nothing you want to live in.
“I feel like I have been honest with them about the third-party repair, but that has given them ammunition to blame it on them. A door lock was fitted three years ago, if it was going to cause a fire, it would have done it three years ago. It feels like they have been fobbing me off when I’ve been honest with them. Unless I see the report stating from their investigators that the door lock is the root cause of the fire, why else would they hide the report? It feels like they are keeping things from me when it’s my washing machine.”
Meanwhile, Frank Wain, of Derbyshire Appliance Repairs, who Amanda says carried out the repair in 2019, said that he was frustrated that Whirlpool had appeared to blame the repair for the fire. He said he rejected their explanation and said he was “not happy” that the company were “passing the buck.”
He said: “This is a problem Whirlpool have been having, where machines have been catching fire. We are going to machines even now that should be on the list, and we get customers to ring Whirlpool to say that it should be on the list of models that should be recalled.So many times I have had to tell customers to ring Whirlpool.
“I am shocked, to be honest. I am shocked that Whirlpool is trying to blame third parties when the part has been on there for three years. It doesn’t make any sense one little bit. It doesn’t take three years for that to happen.”
Mr Wain, who has been fixing washing machines for more than 30 years across Derbyshire, said that the replacement door lock would have been the same as the one that came with the original machine. As a result, he believes the issue was with the Whirlpool product, not the repair.