A website and helpline set up to advise owners of Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines are now “fully operational”, Whirlpool said as it apologised for technical problems.
Whirlpool announced on Tuesday that it is recalling 519,000 washing machines over a flaw with the door locking system that can cause the appliances to overheat and potentially catch fire.
However the online model checker and a helpline set up to allow customers to check if their machine is one of those involved were promptly overwhelmed, with problems continuing on Wednesday.
A Whirlpool spokesman said: “We are truly sorry for the technical issues customers have been experiencing on our website. Both the website and our call centre are now fully operational.
“By visiting the website, people can instantly check if their washing machine is affected using an online model checker tool, and there is a full list of model numbers.
Our website and phone lines are now available. We sincerely apologise for the technical issues faced. If you think you might have an affected washing machine, you can check if it needs to be recalled by calling 0800 316 1442 or by visiting https://t.co/2uuCgDuuWm.
— Whirlpool UK (@WhirlpoolUK) December 18, 2019
“They can also get more information on the safety notice and register their details with us so we can contact them directly to schedule an appointment for their affected appliance to be replaced or repaired once the recall officially begins in early January.
“Alternatively, customers can call our freephone hotline on 0800 316 1442 and one of our team can help them check if their washing machine is affected.
“The call centre is open seven days a week and we are extending opening hours to make sure we can be available to help our customers when it’s convenient for them. We thank our customers for their patience and understanding and are 100% committed to caring for them.”
The company had taken 17,000 calls on Wednesday morning.
Adam French, consumer rights spokesman at Which?, said: “Millions of people who have just learned they may have a fire-risk washing machine in their home will understandably be worried and frustrated that they can’t check if their Hotpoint or Indesit machine could be affected.
“We also want Whirlpool to offer refunds to the many customers who cannot wait months for a repair or replacement, or who simply may not want a machine from the tainted Whirlpool brand in their homes.”
Whirlpool said it was working at “full speed” as it prepares to officially begin the recall in early January.
In the meantime, it advised consumers to unplug their washing machines and not use them.
Those who choose to continue using their machines should only use cold water cycles of 20C or lower as this significantly reduces the risk, Whirlpool said, as the issue is associated with the washing machine’s heating element being activated during washing cycles above 20C.
Under the recall, all affected customers will have the choice of either a free like-for-like replacement, or a free in-home repair of the existing appliance.