Domestic gas boiler engineers are not carrying out basic checks and are suggesting expensive, unnecessary repairs, according to Which?.
In an undercover investigation, the consumer champion invited 10 engineers to service a boiler.
Before each engineer arrived, Which? disconnected a lead which meant the boiler would not light. This could have been fixed in five minutes. The engineers had to reconnect this lead before they could service the boiler.
The Which? boiler expert then watched what they did using a hidden camera.
Four out of 10 engineers failed to fully service the boiler, according to Which?, “including one engineer subcontracted by national chain Homeserve”.
Two of the independent engineers failed to spot the basic fault and recommended up to £500 worth of unnecessary work. One suggested getting a brand new boiler – which costs an average of £2,459.
The British Gas engineer did a thorough job, but not until the third scheduled visit. “The customer wasted almost seven hours waiting for the boiler to be fixed – nobody turned up for the first appointment because of a mix-up, despite the customer paying in advance; while the second engineer refused to service the boiler because of the fault,” said the watchdog.
Where there was no servicing contract in place, the price charged varied from £10 to £130.
In response to the claims, Homeserve said: “We employ a robust checking process, including technical audits, and qualifications and good repute checks. Once a contractor works for us we manage their performance closely and have a thorough complaints procedure. Yearly audits ensure high technical and customer service standards.”
British Gas said: “We work hard to give our customers the best possible service. Our engineers fix 95% of boilers on their first visit. We offer a 24-hour emergency service, and our engineers are available as late as 8pm, seven days a week.”
Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said: “Registered gas engineers should provide a professional service at a fair price, so it’s inexcusable when corners are cut, faults missed and people are ripped off.
“People should ask their friends and family for recommendations when choosing an engineer and get quotes from different suppliers to get the best deal.”
Which? has shared its findings with the Gas Safe Register, which is carrying out further investigations.