In a letter to retail partners, Paul Reeves, the General Manager of Sales and Marketing for Beko Australia, accuses the media of taking a one-sided approach which he says has resulted in an "unbalanced analysis" of the situation concerning their appliances, which in the UK have been directly identified as having been involved in several fires which have resulted in the loss of lives.
Last year SmartHouse was the first media organisation in Australia to identify that Beko, a Turkish appliance maker who set up in Australia 18 months ago, was facing a major problem in the UK, where several organisations including the London Fire Brigade have come out and said that the Turkish company's products are "dangerous". At the time we approached Beko Australia for a comment, they chose not to issue any statement and they also failed to return any of our calls regarding this issue.
Later a UK PR company approached SmartHouse demanding that we pull the Beko story down.
The facts are that it was not a legal firm or the media that first identified problems with Beko appliances; it was the London Fire Brigade who issued a statement that up to 500,000 Beko fridge freezers could be posing serious fire risks in homes and businesses across the UK.
At the time the LFB said that Beko appliances have caused 20 fires and one death in London. They later issued additional statements concerning Beko gas cookers that exploded causing death and injury.
In his letter to retailers, Reeves claims that some media have taken a one-sided approach which has resulted in an unbalanced analysis of the situation. The Managing Director of Beko Australia, Michael Goadby, described the UK media stories as "pure journalist hype".
This is despite the fact that it was the Consumer Association, who are similar to Choice in Australia, along with the London Fire Brigade first warning both consumers and the media about the dangers associated with Beko appliances being sold in the UK. Since then the media has followed up on Coroners Court cases, legal claims by people who have accused Beko of selling faulty products, statements made by concerned consumer organisations and the London Fire Brigade.
In Australia SmartHouse highlighted the problems associated with the Beko UK appliances because we could not get answers out of Beko Australia as to whether the same appliances being questioned in the UK were being sold in Australia. We believe that it is our job to highlight issues and ask questions especially when appliances are being blamed for 11 deaths.
Despite SmartHouse requesting answers to our questions over several days and a weekend, Beko did not issue a statement until Seven News followed up on our original story.
Within hours of Seven Media requesting information Beko Australia issued a statement indicating the Beko appliances sold in Australia were not the same as the UK appliances.
It was then revealed that Beko Australia has issued a recall of 7kg condenser dryers which the Company described as a "Fire Risk".
The statement issued by Reeves said "we have identified eight units which are all located in Victoria. The issue is specifically with a faulty capacitor, which has been supplied by a third party manufacturer. Our factory has rectified the situation by changing the component and relocating the position within the product".
In his letter to retail partners Reeves claims that the ongoing press is leaking deliberately from a law firm in the UK who is handling litigation on behalf of the family who unfortunately lost a loved one.
"The law firms are well known for their actions and methods of gaining maximum exposure about an issue in an effort to receive a litigation pay out.
"We will unfortunately, continue to see articles leaked by the UK lawyers in an effort to soften us up for the compensation which incidentally, although mentioned in . [news articles], is totally incorrect.
"We have had NO demand on us for a compensation payment although we are sure it will come."
At no stage has SmartHouse or any of our staff had any contact with a UK legal firm.