April 2020

of risk on the road and the fact that cars are an expensive item. Yet faulty electrical appliances can also be dangerous if not recalled in a timely fashion, as we know from recent experiences – so the principle could be extended.

Using data from a credit or debit card could allow automatic POS registration, though both consumer trust and data legislation would need to be addressed. There are still, however, groups such as older people and those on benefits who tend to use cash. So one size will not fit all. The roundtable was a lively event, with a robust discussion around a range of recall issues, from improving consumer engagement to supporting the vulnerable. In fact, how to get consumer engagement was a constant theme. Some manufacturers explained that 25 per cent of those who had registered products didn’t respond to safety communications and that, even with incentives, there was a lack of consumer response. The general consensus was that manufacturers had to engage consumers further but would be helped by some level of regulation, which would create a level playing field and support responsible business. And the importance of retailers was also observed. Retailer prompts are considered a significant part of improving the recall process, especially those requiring face-to- face engagement, at point of sale. Another emerging theme of the discussion was the second-hand market, particularly in white goods, where tracing the end-users of recalled items becomes even more problematic. And it was noted that hardly anyone responds to a recall if they are not the owner of an affected machine. So where does that leave tenants in furnished accommodation? Does a landlord pass on the recall notice?

It was highlighted that reconditioned white goods are sold to landlords in bulk for their

properties. But while the seller has contact details for the purchaser (i.e. the landlord), they will not know where the appliances end up being located. While considering how best to support vulnerable people during a recall, the issue of accessing basic information arose. To determine if their product is recalled you need details of its model and batch number etc. This can be found on the ‘rating plate’, which is often difficult to locate on an appliance and usually written in very small type. Not surprisingly, there was a call for standardised data, which was generally well received!

awareness of electrical risk. But even with appropriate legislation, and the other approaches outlined above, there would need to be effective enforcement of product registration. The conversations we had in the House of Lords were very informative and the roundtable attendees, who represented a number of different organisations, shared information, experiences and thoughts regarding improving product safety. Given the quality of discussion and people’s willingness to engage, I proposed that Electrical Safety First establish and lead a Working Group on product registration. I believe we can offer both the technical expertise and the consumer focus to take forward potential solutions – a view uniformly supported by those attending the event. We know improving recall rates isn’t going to be an easy or simple process, but given that most fires in UK homes are caused by electricity – and with most arising from electrical products – it’s essential for consumers and industry. After all, safer products make better business. It’s time to take product registration out of the shadows and make it mainstream.


We know improving recall rates isn’t going to be an easy or simple process, but given that most fires in UK homes are caused by electricity, it’s essential for consumers and industry. After all, safer products make better business.

And the outcome of all this discussion? Three key elements arose which could help address low recall rates. These include legislation to ensure mandatory registration of white goods, plus Government support through awareness-raising campaigns – much like its successful Fire Kills programme, which promoted smoke alarms. And, finally, a range of ‘nudge’ activities to support behavioural change, including increased

Electrical Safety First is once again sponsoring ERT’s

Turning Point Live! conference in October.

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