Do you have a dangerous Russell Hobbs iron?
Ironing is never fun, but it's rarely dangerous, yet now household thrill seekers can take their life in their hands (almost) by using a Russell Hobbs iron to make their clothes crease-free. Thousands of Russell Hobbs irons have now been recalled after reports that some burst into flames and injured customers.
Of course, you would hope that any responsible manufacturer would advise customers of a potential risk to their health as soon as possible. In Russell Hobbs case, however, it is suggested that they may have known about the problem- which affects 15 different models that were made using a specific flex cord- over a year ago, and the product recall coincidentally happened just after the problem was featured on a BBC Watchdog exposé.
The Russell Hobbs website product recall page understates the issue saying “as part of our ongoing quality monitoring program, we've identified an issue with a small number of our irons, that may carry a risk that the flex may fail. If you do have an affected iron, please stop using it immediately." Bursting into flames and scorching people with electrical burns is a fairly major fail in our book. There's even a video of just what this mild-looking household applicance can do to your hand. Not pleasant.
Russell Hobbs managing director Tim Wright claimed that, when the fault was discovered the company began “working with Trading Standards to monitor the situation" and now offers his apologies to those who have been injured by one of the faulty irons.
“This absolutely was not our intention and we work very hard as a brand to ensure that we bring products to market that are fit for purpose," he said.
“We take our responsibilities as a manufacturer very seriously and customer safety is always our first priority, and it is because of these factors that we decided to issue the product recall." Of course it is Tim.
If you think you might have an affected iron, which normally come is suitably girly colours like pink and purple, there are two pieces of information you need- the model number and the batch code.
The affected model numbers are: 15081, 18651, 18720, 18741, 18742, 18743, 19220, 19221, 19222, 19400, 19840, 20260, 20280, 20550-10 and 20560-10.
The batch code needs to end with either 12 or 13. If the first three digits are from 045 through to 365 , the last two should be 12 or if the batch code starts with 001 through to 195 the last two digits should be 13. If you match all five numbers, you have won a faulty iron and you need to call Russell Hobbs customer service for your prize of “a refund or a replacement".
Affected customers can complete a webform on the website, or are advised to call 0800 307 7616 or 0333 103 9663 from a mobile. Unfortunately, despite only “a small number" of irons being affected, there are so many people trying to call customer services that you can currently only listen to a recorded message advising you that they are “experiencing a very high number of calls at the moment" and telling you to call back another time. Perhaps when you have actually burned yourself on the iron. If you do call from a mobile, however, the company will text you back and assure you they will call you back as soon as they can, although, this does not appear to be the same day- we called this morning and have not yet been called back.
So, many consumers are left with an iron they are told not to use in case it burns them, with no way of contacting the company for a replacement (however long that would take to arrive), and with no details of what proof you need in order to claim a refund (because everyone keeps receipts for over 18 months), meaning they can't go out and buy another one. Good job Russell Hobbs.