Our world is very cold at the moment.
This is the second time our world has been very cold in the past few weeks.
We are now in our third day without any heating.
Who is looking after our world?
That’s right – British Gas – we have a Homecare package with them.
On Sunday we went out to do some shopping and when we returned we noticed that the heating wasn’t on. On closer inspection the pilot light had gone out. We tried to relight it and after a few tries the automatic ignition kicked in. About half an hour later we noticed the radiators had gone cold again so we tried to relight it again but to no avail. Since then we have had no heating or hot water at all.
At this point I would like to take you back a couple of weeks to the beginning of December when the first big snowfall happened. We got up one morning and noticed that the heating wasn’t on and we couldn’t get the pilot light to come one so we called British Gas. Once we got through we were informed that the earliest they could get an engineer to us was the following day between 8am and 1pm. This was despite the advert they had been running a few weeks earlier:
We did however give them the benefit of the doubt as there was a foot of snow outside and we hadn’t been anywhere for a day or two ourselves. So we sat and shivered with our only source of heat being an oil filled radiator that I’d got off Freecycle originally for the garage at the Big Blue House. There was one niggling annoyance going round in my head though…..
A few weeks earlier we had called out British Gas when we discovered a wet patch on the bedroom ceiling and they had sent someone round to find the source of the leak. When we booked the call the person in the call centre advised us that our boiler was due a service and would we like the engineer to do it while he was round. We said yes but when the man came he told us that it wasn’t due until January 2011 so he wasn’t going to do it. The question spinning round in my head was – if he had serviced it would it have failed? I guess we will never know.
Anyway when the Gas people turned up the following day scraping in with minutes to go before 1pm they informed us that the problem was due to a seized fan which theyÂ thenÂ set about lubricating and thankfully it was soon fixed and the house began to warm up. We did notice shortly after they went that the fan was making a funny noise but we assumed it would be ok. Which it was for about 2 weeks.
So on Sunday when it failed again we rang up to get the engineer to come out again, however the first problem was getting them to answer their phone. It was over half an hour before someone finally answered. They informed us that the earliest they could get someone out was Tuesday – so much for their service promise again. Sarah pointed out that we have a 5 year old and shouldn’t we be a priority – she was informed that this was a priority call! This time they could only give us the time the engineer would call as being between 8am and 6pm which makes further nonsense of their advertising and service level promises.
To let you get on with your day!!! The timescale they gave us meant that Sarah would effectively be stuck in till they came which could, in all likelihood, be at 5:55 pm! Luckily the man came at about 11am but without a phonecall – you know the one their engineers are committed to – good job she hadn’t gone out to “get on with her day”.
After inspecting the system he advised us that the fan should have been replaced on the last visit as he always replaced them – this made us feel better!! The bad news was that he didn’t have one on the van – you would think that given the fact they were called out 2 weeks after having a problem with the fan they would have thought about it and made sure that he had one with him – maybe that’s too simple! Anyway he would have to come back…………tomorrow! So we now have another 24 hours without heating or hot water.
So before I started to write this blog I decided to search on the web to find the images of the adverts that I’ve used above and my first point of call was the British gas Website. As the page opened I saw this;
So for amusementÂ IÂ decided to click on the link and see what excuses they were using and when I did this was what I got:
Should I have expected anything else from a companyÂ IÂ once said that I would rather gnaw my own arm off than have them as my supplier again! In fact while we were sitting there freezing, the first time, Â we had a man from British gas ring us up to try and get us to change to them for our gas and electric supply. He said he could save us money, despite this being only a few days after British Gas had announced a 7% rise in their prices. I then asked what their unit costs were and this he struggled to give me which made me wonder how he couldÂ guarantee to save me money without knowing how much their prices were or indeed how much we were currently paying or indeed actually using!
The only reason we have the Homecare package with them is that we inherited it when we moved into the Big Blue House and kind of kept it on when we moved. In fact this situation of having to call them out several times for the same problem is not new. At the big Blue House we had to call them out 4 times for a problem where the hot water would just stop. On the fourth visit the engineer asked us “has anyone been up to the attic to look at the tank?”. They hadn’t because if they had they would have discovered the inlet ballcock was sticking and stopping the header tank filling up.
And talking of header tanks we had a problem with the heating a while back and I discovered the reason. The previous British gas engineer had turned off the supply to the central heating header tank to fix a leak and hadn’t turned it back on which meant the system was slowly running out of water. The engineers seem to cause more problems than they actually solve. If the engineers could solve the problems on their first visits it would save the company a fortune and maybe they wouldn’t have so many people calling them up with problems at the coldest times of the year. Oh and one final question – if they know they are going to be busy at this time of the year why don’t they gear up for it instead of just letting their system get overwhelmed?
I think we shall be reviewing this contract very closely when it come up for renewal – that’s assuming we don’t ask for compensation first!