LG issues software upgrade for 15,000 front-load washers

By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Fifteen-thousand LG front-load washing machines sold in 2006 require a software modification after testing revealed that they use 12 extra litres of water per cycle than claimed and therefore fail to achieve the advertised 4-star water efficiency rating.

LG Australia has admitted that the initial production run of the 7.5kg WD-1018C, sold in Australia between April and October 2006, was mistakenly loaded with European software and uses more water than stated.

“Essentially we received stock that was destined for the European market, and the software within the washing machine is programmed differently for Europe,” LG Electronics Australia communications manager, Claire Valtwies, told Current.com.au this afternoon.

“It is programmed to run a shorter washing cycle but use more water than the Australian specifications require. So we inadvertently received stock that was programmed for Europe.”

LG will conduct free in-home visits to update the washer’s internal software for consumers who bought the model.

With the European software installed, the washer will not meet the four-star water efficiency rating criteria.

“When it was initially tested it was compliant with the testing, but the problem is that we started to receive stock with the European programming,” said Valtwies.

Valtwies said consumers will have no problem claiming their $150 water rebate in Sydney for four-star rated washers.

“The machine can be very easily fixed, it is just a matter of consumers contacting LG and we can send a technician out to alter the software for the machine. The new programming will ensure that it meets our standards for Australian products and that it does meet the four-star rating,” she said.

However, this issue is still being investigated by the Department of the Environment and Heritage, which coordinates the water efficiency labelling scheme.

“As part of our routine monitoring we are aware of this issue and are in contact with the manufacturer to establish whether this issue effects the claims made in relation to their registered WELS products. Beyond that we are unable to comment on compliance issues,” said Department of the Environment public affairs spokesperson, Trish Johnston.

LG claims consumers who bought the WD-1018C will not be significantly out-of-pocket for the extra water usage. According to figures calculated by the company, a consumer conducting five washes per week for six months would have spent just $2.50 extra on water during the period.

LG wrote to retailers last week asking for customer details so that consumers could be contacted directly, and will continue advertising the software upgrade in national print media.

Voltwies insists this is technically "not a recall", as there is no specific consumer injury which could result from the product fault and the product is not being collected by the supplier.

“We have voluntarily advised the ACCC, so they are aware of what we are doing and the program that we have put in place to correct the software in the machine,” said Valtwies.

The WD-1018C is a current model in LG’s range and will continue to be sold. LG claims stock shipped since 12 October has been pre-loaded with the correct Australian software.

Consumers are advised to locate the serial number under inside the door and contact LG on 1800 506 154, or by email at wmrework@lge.com.au

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