Beware of useless boiler maintenance contracts?

by Readers Question

9:40 AM, 18th February 2021
About 3 weeks ago

Beware of useless boiler maintenance contracts?

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Beware of useless boiler maintenance contracts?

I had a gas safety check carried out on one of our properties last Friday afternoon for a tenant, his wife and four children by Your Repair. The engineer carried out the gas safety on the boiler and said all was working well, but noticed a grill was missing from the flue pipe outside, to which he promptly came back into the property, shut the gas off and put a sticker on the boiler saying “DO NOT USE” and told the tenant not to use it.

This was on one of the coldest spells in the South East of England with snow on the ground. The tenant asked if there was something that could be done so that the heating and hot water could go back on as they are both key workers and have a young family. They needed the handwashing facilities intact. The engineer said there was nothing he could do. The tenant offered to pay for anything he could do to get the gas back on, but nothing was suggested. The engineer just said the flue pipe was not covered by the contract.

I find this surprising because if there is something wrong with the flue pipe it is irrelevant whether the boiler or the rest of the central heating is functioning or not because the gas would still be turned off. The engineer said it is not his job and left. The tenant contacted me late on Friday evening to tell me what had happened. I tried to get an emergency gas engineer out, but a lot did not want to know because of the weather.

It would have been helpful if Your Repair could have notified me as the policyholder that there was a problem with a possibility of arranging some emergency work through their advertised 5000 gas safe engineers as well as the one on-site.

The following day I did manage to get somebody to put a made up grill on the flue, just so no birds could make a nest in it which is what the engineer pointed out could happen.

So, before you sign up you do need to fully understand what you are signing up to. They seem to be a company with no common sense or empathy. These boiler service contract companies seem to be springing up. Thankfully I kept my other properties under the British Gas contracts. It is more expensive, but you get what you pay for.

Mike

Comments

Darren Peters

10:09 AM, 18th February 2021
About 3 weeks ago

I don't think British Gas are necessarily any better. We had a British Gas jobsworth do the same to a boiler in a cupboard because he couldn't work out how to ease the cover off. Admittedly it was an awkward location but every engineer before him managed without fuss. Probably overran on the previous job and wanted to get home for tea.

The old certificate had a few weeks to run but because he put the sticker on, the tenants panicked and assumed the boiler had been a death trap throughout their tenancy and we were trying to kill them.

Unsurprisingly a different engineer (Corgi back in the day) went through the boiler and found nothing wrong. Never went with a contract since.

Chris Bradley

10:14 AM, 18th February 2021
About 3 weeks ago

I had a leak from a boiler and called out the emergency cover. There were two leaks and he said that he'd have to order parts, I got a call from the insurance, £1500 repair bill, and the insurance would only cover £500 of it £130 already used for first call out. I called a local plumber who fixed one leak for £30 and had to get the boiler manufacturers out for the other leak which cost £150

Lee Bailey

10:26 AM, 18th February 2021
About 3 weeks ago

All my properties are with British Gas for this cover. They too condemn boilers on a whim. Also their website for booking engineers or account management rarely works. During the recent cold spell a tenant needed an engineer but the website wasnt working and phonelines never answered. I used a local engineers directly and had a far better service. So I'm cancelling ALL British Gas policies.

Alan Wong

10:26 AM, 18th February 2021
About 3 weeks ago

I've had numerous British Gas Homecare plans and still do. They are not saints either. Normally when a part is gone like the expansion vessel, they typically 'pump it up or inflate it again' then leave. That is prolonging the problem making it worse than really resolving it. It is like a puncture in a tyre and all they are doing is inflate it for it to be leaking again. Some of their engineers also offered to do homers jobs on site quoting against their own British Gas quotes which is not allowed. What they want is us to pay the monthly cover fee and once we leave the the plan, the problem is passed on and they've made their money. The experience of the flue is just like you say bad service which i find in many service sector including Utility companies, the Dwp etc. The list goes on...

Smartermind

10:34 AM, 18th February 2021
About 3 weeks ago

Surely, it doesn't require a "gas engineer" to put a simple grill cover on a flue pipe. It's something you could do yourself.

As for these maintenance contracts they are money for old rope. Better to self insure - put the premiums to one side and when you need a repair, use it to pay a local safe gas registered engineer to carry out the repair.

John

10:56 AM, 18th February 2021
About 3 weeks ago

Unfortunately you only discover if an insurance policy is any good when you come to try and claim on the policy. Most of them aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Your best bet is to find a local contractor that you can trust and stick with them. I also understand and appreciate they are thin on the ground and hard to find.

Darren Peters

11:14 AM, 18th February 2021
About 3 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Smartermind at 18/02/2021 - 10:34
It might not require a gas engineer to fit a grille but it would require one to remove the sticker.

MikeH

11:42 AM, 18th February 2021
About 3 weeks ago

Having experienced boiler contracts in the past, I do NOT have any contract on the boilers in my 4 properties. If the boiler fails, I pay for the repair. I pay for a local registered Gas Safe man to do the annual clean, check and certificate. A couple of years ago, whilst doing the annual check he called me saying that the external part of the flue and its cover needed replacing before he could issue a certificate and it would be £20 plus parts plus VAT. I of course replied "Do it". The idea of an engineer leaving the property with a "Do Not Use" sticker on the boiler for a trivial fix is just unacceptable. By the way, my checks are done in June/July when a day or two without heat and hot water can be tolerated if it comes to that.

Paul Essex

17:09 PM, 18th February 2021
About 2 weeks ago

You may be interested to know that British Gas engineers have sales targets - a real incentive to fail your system.

Randomly AA engineers also have sales targets to meet. Offering you an upgraded breakdown contact or perhaps car insurance, I know of one who couldn't stand the demands of these targets so left the company.

Paul Shears

19:01 PM, 18th February 2021
About 2 weeks ago

I only called out British gas once.
I had to pay £150 in advance.
The helpdesk asked me if the engineer needed a ladder.
I replied that I already had one.
The engineer came out and immediately refused to work on the boiler as he would need to go two steps up a ladder or stand on a chair.
But he did tell me the simple fix that was required.
It took me three months to get my £150 back out of British Gas.
So no support contracts and no British Gas.
I have, however, employed ex British Gas engineers who were gas safe registered and had started their own companies.
One was good.
The other one appeared to be very professional, with all the right equipment, a very impressive van and switched on. I watched him heat up an iron pipe until it glowed bright orange.
It was at this point that I informed him that there was no gas in the pipe.............

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