Couple win refund after fight over ‘unfair’ boiler servicing charges
Homeowner John Pilkington went from being satisfied with his agreement with 24/7 Home Rescue, that appeared to be comprehensive and with no excess, to being baffled as to why when a repair was needed he was asked to shell out more upfront.
John had signed up after a cold call in October 2016, paying £17 a month.
Part of the deal was a free service which he booked for last February.
“But then I was asked for £60 before the engineer would come and in return my debit was reduced to £11,” he told Crusader.
“To get the thing done, I said ‘ok’ and paid. After the service though the heating went off because of a boiler leak and a circuit failure.
The cold obliged us to live in our lounge for several weeks because it had a gas fire
“The engineer diagnosed a split water hose that would need replacing.”
John was told the part for his Viessmann model had to be ordered from Germany. Then he got another call.
“This time I was asked to contribute £120,” he says. “I agreed as I felt I had no alternative and my wife is a semi-invalid and we’re both in our 80s, but I felt I’d been pushed into a corner.”
When John argued the charge he says he was told his boiler’s six-year-old depreciation came to more than the cost of the repair which needed special parts only available from Germany.
Yet all he could see in his contract’s terms was that only boilers under 15 years old qualified for the cover and there was a £1,000 claim limit.
John had signed up after a cold call in October 2016, paying £17 a month
When John did his own online investigation he found the rubber hose and two clips needed were available with just a two-week wait from his local plumbers’ merchant Plumbase in Norwich for £47.40.
As the hose was on order from Germany John kept faith until he was told first they had arrived but then the wrong one had been sent. The fitting eventually happened in May.
“The cold obliged us to live in our lounge for several weeks because it had a gas fire,” he added questioning why the delays when the parts seemed to be readily available in the UK.
Just as we were asking the company to look at John’s contract, matters took a turn for the worse.
John had decided he’d had enough and terminated the agreement, cancelling his direct debit.
John had decided he’d had enough and terminated the agreement, cancelling his direct debit
“I did it in good time several weeks before the year was up,” he says. “But then I had a very unpleasant call. I was told I would face debt collectors if I did not retract, because this was a rolling contract. But I believed I had acted correctly and given fair warning.”
This was definitely not on we thought so we asked 24/7 Home Rescue to investigate as matter of urgency.
First it rightly stopped any debt action and followed up confirming: “We pride ourselves in our customer services and strive to make the whole journey from taking out a policy to making a claim as easy as possible. We regret that on this occasion, our standards fell short of what Mr Pilkington should expect. As a gesture of goodwill we have agreed to reimburse him the £120 contribution towards the cost of the repair.”
John has now received the refund and said: “We’re most relieved and grateful to Crusader. I hope this company has learned a lesson.”
Subcontractors usually do the work for companies offering home and appliance servicing plans
How to get a good boiler service deal
Subcontractors usually do the work for companies offering home and appliance servicing plans.
While poor service is often down to failures at this level, it’s the firms that employ them that must stand accountable.
When taking out a contract always check how long it lasts, any early cancellation penalties, whether you have to actively agree to its renewal or whether it continues unless you indicate otherwise and how long in advance you have before cancelling. Also check if there is any excess, the conditions surrounding the age of boilers and whether there is any repair speed pledge. If you are told parts need to come from overseas, get the details as the majority for well-known brands are available in the UK.
Consumer campaigner Which? has some good advice re servicing contracts and best boilers, for more see www.which.co.uk