Danger of Beko fridge freezers catching fireBeko issued an important safety notice regarding some of its frost free fridge freezers, which in “a very small number of cases could result in overheating”.
The defrost timer is the problem, whose job it is to trigger a heating element to defrost. However, since I posted this warning several weeks back things have escalated to such a serious degree that this safety warning is on the news. The phrase, “could result in overheating” should now be read as “could result in a serious fire, producing an enormous amount of toxic smoke.” According to one newspaper these fridges have so far caused at least 20 fires in London alone and one death.
The fridges affected were manufactured between January 2000 and October 2006. These models have a serial number that begins with either 00, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05 or 06 (this information can be found on a label inside the fridge.)
There is a free modification to the defrost timer, which any owners of the fridges should definitely get sorted out asap.
How to CHECK IF YOUR FRIDGE FREEZER IS AFFECTED USING BEKO’S WEB SITE TOOL
Use this link to check with Beko Please check your Beko Fridge Freezer Now
Full details including a telephone number to contact and how to check your serial number are currently on the Trading Standards product recall site – Beko Frost Free Fridge Freezers – safety notice
Always register any white goods appliance you buy. Send off the registration card or go online to do it. If ever a serious safety issue arises the first thing a manufacturer needs to do is to contact all the people registered on its database. These people are the first to get their appliance modified. If you haven’t registered you may not find out about it and could suffer a serious incident or tragedy.
What Beko advice
Currently, they say over 500,000 of these appliances have been sold and only a very small fraction have been affected. They are assuring their customers that if the appliance is working ok, with no symptoms of any faults then it is safe to keep using until they can get to it.
What if you don’t believe them?
This is a decision only you can make. If your model is on the list – contact Beko asap using the link above. If you decide to unplug the fridge freezer – especially if it’s been playing up recently. Food will be wasted if you have nowhere to transfer it to, but if you genuinely believe it poses a serious risk to you and your family there isn’t much choice and how could anyone morally deny that? If you did unplug it you might be able to contact Beko before the food defrosts (don’t open the door) and plug it back in if that’s what they advise and can convince you it’s safe to do so.
You have a responsibility to try and mitigate any food loss though. You shouldn’t just deliberately let it go off if you can salvage some, use some of it before it goes off, or transfer some to another freezer if possible. If you do have to let the food go off take a note of all items, photograph them or save the packaging too and add up the cost. You can then try to claim compensation from the manufacturer or the retailer as “consequential loss”. However, don’t be surprised to meet resistance from Beko or the retailer to the idea of compensating anyone for food loss or even time off work. That doesn’t mean you have no right to compensation, but unless they comply you will have to fight for it and maybe even have to take them to the small claims court. Get official consumer advice.
What did London fire brigade advise?
Having said all that, a representative of London Fire brigade on Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine programme has said there’s no need to stop using one because he believes people who’s fridge freezers have caught fire suffered some intermittent fault prior to the fire. Therefore if your Beko fridge freezer is apparently working perfectly ok he doesn’t think there’s a risk of imminent fire.
Also it should be noted that on Beko’s web site they do not advise to stop using the appliance immediately either (at the time of writing). According to this BBC news item they say -
“Beko says the risk to consumers is extremely low and it is advising customers with the affected fridges to continue using them unless they notice anything unusual.”
My personal thoughts on this are as follows – It seems that Beko are insisting that unless anything “unusual” is happening with an affected fridge freezer it’s impossible for one to catch fire. Presumably one can’t catch fire until it’s been “doing something unusual” for some unspecified time as the spokesman for the London fire brigade also advised on radio 2. I hope for everyone’s sake that is the case!
If you do unplug it and lose food the retailer may try to claim you didn’t need to and the loss was avoidable therefore denying your claim for consequential loss. I think a small claims court judge may well accept that having heard on the news of 1 death, and 20 fires, and then finding out your fridge freezer has the same fault it was reasonable for some people to immediately unplug the appliance rather than risk leaving it plugged in until something was resolved. Especially if despite your best efforts you could not get through to Beko, which I know many have experienced. That’s only my opinion though.
CHECK IF YOUR FRIDGE FREEZER IS AFFECTED USING BEKO’S WEB SITE TOOL
If you bought it from Comet
If you bought it from Comet, I think their own engineers will be sent out as Comet commonly have arrangements to service many of the appliances they sell themselves – even under guarantee. On Beko’s check if your appliance is affected tool they specifically ask if you bought it from Comet and I suspect that if so they may just tell you to ring Comet. I can’t say for certain, but if you bought it from Comet, and cannot get through to either the check tool at Beko’s site or by telephone ring Comet.
Just read this news article –
Some faulty Beko fridge-freezers began catching fire as long ago as 2007, the BBC has learned