Tuesday, 28 July 2009

When is 'British Gas' NOT 'British Gas'?!?

A simple question you'd think - but it certainly hammers home the old familiar adage of READ THE SMALL PRINT!

We've always been with British Gas and enjoyed basically excellent service from them over many years - in fact we have both gas and electricity from them. We also enjoy their full service package, which not only looks after the central heating system, but any plumbing problems we might get. We've had the usual number of call-outs over the years, and nearly always the engineer has been friendly, helpful, and thoroughly professional in rectifying any problem.

So, when we received a flyer advertising a good deal on a new boiler, we decided to go ahead, as our existing one was a few years old and wouldn't last for ever, as well as the new, condenser models being far more efficient. The leaflet gave all the details, and at no time was there any mention that the whole thing wasn't going to be carried out by British Gas employees.

We duly signed up, and, of course, there is a lot of paperwork and, yes, I know, we should have studied every minutiae of the contract, but thinking we were dealing with a company as secure and long-standing, there would be no problem.

Well, to cut a rather long story short, we found that the job was to be carried out by a local firm of British Gas-approved workers, and that basically British Gas weren't really involved - except that they got the money - in the figure of some £3,500! Whilst it worked, there were aspects we weren't happy with, especially the quality of the finish, and naturally we complained. To be fair to British Gas they listened to our complaint, and have put everything right now, and even made a small ex gratia payment to us for our trouble. The initial person who contacted us, following our letter of complaint, a 'Nicola' from their Midland base, was unusually aggressive in dealing with us, and said, of course, if you don't read the small print...........! She also said something quite uniformed about our observation that the hot-water cylinder thermostat had been left at 80 degrees, so the utility room was like a sauna, and our fridge and freezer there were working flat out to cope, almost to breaking point. This was actually unusual, as most people in 'customer service' in various companies do try to listen and help - not her! Needless to say we complained about her, when the 'man from British Gas' called around to address our complaints in person.

Of course, it's all about economics, and sometimes 'approved' engineers can do just as good a job as actual employees - but NOT in our experience!

We have had everything sorted out, and the boiler and heating system now work a treat, and our faith in British Gas has been restored!

But the moral of this is don't be fooled - read the small print, and ask that British Gas carry the job out themselves! Apparently this is possible to do, as we were told afterwards, by one of the people involved! Of course, they omit to mention this beforehand!

You have been warned!

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