By Chris Nicholls

SYDNEY: Electrolux has taken the unprecedented step of announcing a third recall for several faulty dishwasher models that could catch fire, citing a low return rate and recurrences of problems in models already repaired.

Speaking at a press conference today at Electrolux’s head office in Mascot, Sydney, Electrolux regulatory affairs manager, Ian Forte, said Electrolux had only received 6,000 or so responses out of 20,000 affected models sold. Problems have ranged from smouldering fascia panels to full fires.

Forte also said the notice was neccessary after Electrolux discovered even repaired models had problems.

"We’re alarmed that some of the products that we’ve inspected under the recall has subsequently failed and unfortunately, that means that we have to re-inspect every one of those products again.  So we’re looking for patience and cooperation from all people involved,” he said.

However, Forte said Electrolux had not determined why the repaired products had failed again, but claimed the company had revised its ‘re-work procedure’ to use the newer terminals introduced in Europe, which he said Electrolux had “absolute confidence in”.

New South Wales Fair Trading Minister, Linda Burney, also spoke to warn customers about the potentially life-threatening dangers of not responding to the recall.

“We’ve joined forces with Electrolux today to say to people ‘If you have one of these dishwashers, this could be what could happen to it (pointing to a blackened and twisted fascia panel from an affected model).’ If you put your dishwasher on and go to bed, you could wake up in a home potentially full of smoke and flames and potentially of enormous danger to your family.

“The potential danger is life-threatening, when you see the sort of damage that could happen, so this is the third one [recall], and we’re really asking people to take notice of this particular recall because your house could catch fire.”

When asked why sister company AEG had not organised a press conference, given it sold the same models uder its brand, Forte said AEG’s more detailed customer database (due to their different marketing scheme) meant they had managed to gain a “much better response.”

To help with the recall process and encourage a greater number of returns, Electrolux had worked with the retailers to compile a list of 10,000 customers who would all receive letters informing them of the situation soon, said Forte.

Electrolux would also review its recall processes, given the lack of success of the campaign to date.

"I think we’re going to learn a lot of lessons from this [recall process] and certainly, we’ll be reviewing what we’ve done, what’s worked and what hasn’t worked and certainly, that [contacting customers directly from retailer databases in future recalls] will be on the table.”