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Customers 'not getting the full facts' about fire risks posed by Hotpoint tumble dryers, whistleblower tells ITV News

A tumble dryer affected by the problem Credit: Garnham Family

New concerns have been raised about the recall of more than four million Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers.

A whistleblower has told ITV News that customers are not getting the full facts about fire risks posed by the appliances. Internal documents suggest the manufacturer now faces "a massive backlog" of consumers needing help.

The former employee, who worked in the manufacturers call centre at the time spoke out on the condition of anonymity. He told us that customers are being told that the machines are safe to use as long as they are not left unattended, and that fluff is removed after each cycle.

Yet the Chief Fire Officers Association told us "we would advise you not to use the product if it is part of the recall".

A whistle blower told Chris Choi customers are being told that the machines are safe to use - despite warnings otherwise Credit: ITV News

The whistleblower tells us that some people have also been told they will need to wait 12 months for engineers to make the safety modification which is needed. We have been shown internal Hotpoint documents suggesting that customers face a long wait even to get called back about an engineering appointment.

The paperwork says "due to a massive backlog there can be a very long wait for some customers".

Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers have all been potentially affected Credit: ITV News

Around 4.3 million Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda tumble dryers have a potential fire risk.

New figures show only 330,000 of those have so far been modified by the manufacturer.

We've been speaking to the Garnham family from Guildford who believe their fire was caused by the problem. "I'm angry with Hotpoint for the way they have left things right now", said Natasha Garnham, "Its taken too long to resolve the issues. 30 years of memories have gone".

The cause of the fire is still being investigated. The Garnham family were waiting for an engineer's visit to modify the dryer - but before that happened, this fire occurred.

The family has given us its photos of the devastation.

The Garnham family believe their house fire was caused by the tumble dryer. Credit: Garnham Family
Natasha Garnham said 'thirty years of memories have gone' after the fire. Credit: Garnham Family
The family were waiting for an engineer's visit to modify the dryer when the fire happened. Credit: Garnham Family

Another consumer has made a recording which she says shows how people are being treated by the Helpline that is supporting this recall.

In the tape, a call centre worker is heard to say, "I'm trying to find a resolution for you but no one seems willing to point me in the right direction. I'm not exactly trained for this either" and when the caller asks to speak to a supervisor, she is told "she won't come on the phone to you. She's trying to avoid it at all costs."

Whirlpool (which owns Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit) told us it "disputes these allegations. They bare no resemblance to the standards we expect of call centre staff", which do "comprehensive training". It says "customer service managers are available" to callers.

The firm says it is currently "investigating the validity" of the recording.

The manufacturer is training new engineers to join those already visiting customers homes to modify the affected dryers. It acknowledges 750 fires, but says in most cases damage was contained within the dryer. However, it is clear many customers do not feel reassured.

Though widely referred to as a recall, Whirlpool call this a "modification programme" because a free of charge repair can be done in the home (taking around an hour). There is no need to return products to the company. Trading Standards also use the term "modification".

If you feel your dryer may be one of those affected you can see details here https://safety.hotpoint.eu/ and http://safety.indesit.eu/.

There is also a manufacture's helpline set up on 0800 151 0905