A mother lives 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 caught fire minutes after she put on a normal cycle, 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 lock on the door needed replacing, and Amanda sought out a local businessman to come and fix it.
But Whirlpool blamed the incident on “poor performance“ third-party repair – a charge the experienced shopkeeper denies – and only compensated Amanda for the cost of the machine itself. He refused to publish the report of his investigation into the cause of the fire despite his request.
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A Whirlpool spokesperson said: “The incident that occurred originated near spliced wiring, resulting in damage to internal parts and the console. Our records show that none of our own engineers have attended a service call to this machine, either at the consumer’s address or even to this machine at any address.In summary, we believe this incident was caused by the improperly performed replacement of the lock on the carried by an unknown third party and we have confirmed our findings to Ms. 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 souping and putting on some laundry. I went into the dining room to do some paperwork and my son was in the living room, and about five minutes after I put the laundry, I could smell something, very bad smell, I ignored it for a minute as I thought someone was burning something outside, then a few minutes later the smell got worse.
“I went into the living room to see if I could see anything, then went to my hallway and that’s when I realized my kitchen was full of white smoke billowing into the hallway. I panicked. my units in my kitchen, which are black, I just couldn’t see anything. I grabbed my son and my phone and ran down the street and called the fire department.
“The countertop had just started to catch fire. My kitchen was completely smoky and I had just had my hall, staircase and landing decorated, and everything was blackened and smoky. My three-room suite was smoky, the kitchen he there is also water that is damaged by water from the washing machine and water used by the fire department I have quite a bit of damage left as we were unsure if anyone would be sent in to assess the damage, so I left it as is.”
Two fire engines were dispatched to the scene on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 16, and Amanda immediately called Whirlpool, owner of Hotpoint, to let them know what had happened. She says she was honest and upfront about the third-party repair because she didn’t think she had anything to hide.
Amanda had to immediately buy a new washing machine because she needed it immediately, which was not a Hotpoint model. At the time, Amanda and her family had no insurance because it had expired, which left her “heartbroken” and she estimates the cost of repairing the damage to her family home could reach tens of thousands of pounds.
Whirlpool paid Amanda £225 for the machine, which she collected on April 13. She then conducted a product safety investigation, the results of which were returned to Amanda on May 24.
The investigation concluded that third-party repair was to blame, but Whirlpool declined to release the report itself as it was confidential. He said that while the machine could be returned to Amanda if she wanted it examined by a medical examiner, she would have to pay for it herself.
Amanda said the washing machine was about five years old at the time of the fire and she had it repaired about three years ago. She added that the device was not among the Whirlpool models that were recalled.
Amanda says she thinks Whirlpool is at fault. She also wants the machine to be independently examined to find the cause of the fire.
“It seems to me that because I told them about the repair, they tried to pass the blame on themselves. I spoke to the independent engineer and had a long conversation with him. But now Whirlpool will not share not related to me, but they paid me. For me, that accepts responsibility, because why would they pay for the washing machine before they had even carried out any investigation?
“I lived with the damage. I constantly clean but still you can feel it in the air as it was left. We had just had our hall, stairs and landing finished, we were moving on biggest problems in the house, and I spend a lot of time in my kitchen and it looks dirty to me, that’s not what you want to live in.
“I feel like I was honest with them about the third party repair, but it gave them ammunition to blame them. A door lock was fitted three years ago, if it was supposed to start a fire she would have done three years ago. I feel like they pushed me away when I was honest with them. Unless I see the report that their investigators say that the door lock is the root cause of the fire otherwise why would they hide the report I feel like they are hiding things from me when it is my washing machine.
Meanwhile, Frank Wain of Derbyshire Appliance Repairs, who Amanda said carried out the repair in 2019, said he was frustrated that Whirlpool appeared to blame the repair for the fire. He said he dismissed their explanation and was “not happy” that the company was “passing the buck”.
He said: “This is an issue that Whirlpool has had, where machines have caught fire. We’re even now going to machines that should be on the list, and we’re asking customers to call Whirlpool to say they should be on the list of models that should be recalled. So many times I’ve had to tell customers to call Whirlpool.
“I’m shocked, to be honest. I’m shocked that Whirlpool is trying to blame third parties when the role has been there for three years. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t take three years for that to happen.”
Mr Wain, who has repaired washing machines for over 30 years in Derbyshire, said the replacement door lock would have been the same as the one supplied with the original machine. As a result, he believes the problem was with the Whirlpool product, not the repair.