Such a prescient, beautiful sentiment.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

British Gas Techniques.

Rip Off Cowboys Enter Mainstream!

Like millions of people we have a central heating insurance  and servicing plan with British Gas. I am appalled at the underhand use of BG to force dubious marketing scams onto customers and their underhand coercion of their engineers into pushing parts and in many cases new boilers, onto unsuspecting and trusting clients.

After seven years of every visit by an engineer, all talking a different line forced on them by this unscrupulous Corporation, I decided, after this last week's shenanigans, to write about it here. 

I'm not sure how the engineers feel about these marketing ploys. I remember the tactics used to turn cabin crew from safety personnel into sales teams from my airline days. It's obviously one of many ways corporations manipulate demand.

Nevertheless a major plank of these methods is fear. Just as in bloody politics. For example the meme that an EU breakup means the end of the world as we know it! 

Back to British Gas. Every annual service visit is different. Some preach how our excellent, top of the range, 14 year old boiler, regularly serviced and maintained, needs replacing. Another recommends a fixed  mains pressure driven adaptor would cure all our woes. Another leaves a valve loosely tightened, one an isolation valve left fully closed after a pump change.

Another is tasked with flogging a totally unnecessary magna filter ( You decide.)  but to his eternal credit writes as not needed on the form. A day earlier his colleague had written "recommended new boiler" when he had sensibly not done so! Now all this behaviour is mainly "crying wolf" so if a genuine issue arises how are we supposed to recognise it from a sales scam?

I hope for some years to come I am able to retain sufficient acumen into my dotage to thwart these charlatans and big corporations. If not I will join the many hundreds of thousands cheated and damaged, conned and robbed. That's just the quasi legal corporates. There is still the out and out confidence tricksters to cope with. You know the ones, knock at the door, wave a bit of grey tin in your face and tell you you need a new roof. Mind you we haven't had a thatcher do that so far! A very good reason for having a thatched roof.

So, remember, just because you are dealing with a mighty corporation and energy company, don't expect honesty and competence. The seduction of less than willing engineers into a quick commission sales force first and dedicated, skilled engineer second is not a very nice operation. It compares with the global rendering of animal waste into the food chain, using captive consumers as waste processing machines. Obesity a way of fattening profits!

One final issue is giving customers a statement saying restricted parts. So if you need a part BG say is not available it then leads to the "you need a new boiler" demand! However if you source the part BG must then pay for and fit it under most agreements! I leave you with this link. Says a great deal and is full of valuable information. A word to the wise!  BE CAREFUL OUT THERE! 


  1. Utter scum - agreed!

    We had their gold star service plan and had the boiler regularly serviced by them.

    When it sprung a leak we needed a new boiler apparently because it was 'obsolete' and the 'parts no longer available'.

    I found the bits at a local dealer for a couple of quid!

  2. Thanks for the heads up OR.

    I'm just about to replace my boiler and I was considering going down the 'right' route and contacting BG.

    After reading the linked forum I've had second thoughts.

  3. Prescot's condensing boiler scam has also caused a lot of problems for the ill informed. Lord Prescot forced the companies to install the condensing boiler to save the planet. Some of the heat that previously 'escaped' is fed back into the system. However it needs a drain pipe to remove condensation. This pipe should have been a special type to avoid freezing up. Or at least have been well insulated or located in a frost free area of the house. BG had thousands of call outs as the pipe froze due to the cold causing a safety cut out and switch off. They now want £145 to replace the pipe and fix the problem. A bit of insulation for a couple of quid from B&Q fixes the problem. However BG fitted the pipe incorrectly yet are claiming £145 to 'fix' the problem. Anyone who had a boiler after about 2005 will have the condensing boiler. Anyone who called out BG for a freezing pipe fault will have had a letter offering to 'fix' the problem. A problem caused by them allegedly failing to follow the manufacturers instructions correctly.
    BG engineers must get a fee for all the selling. I always have to nod and agree to read some brochure about something or other that they are selling. Just by agreeing to read the latest speil seems to tick a box on their laptop for a wee commission for them.

  4. Well, this is a hornet's nest, make no mistake! Thank you for your support. BJ, great news. This blogging can work wonders!

  5. George, I'd forgotten the Fat Controller had a hand in this. Bet he's on a "consultancy" package with BG!

  6. This has been going on some time, indeed my bephew who worked for BG, was sacked after telling his boss, you employed me to repair, if you want sales then hire a fucking salesman, he was really pleased to leave.

  7. It makes me realise how lucky I am, having our boiler and system serviced by the chap who installed it probably twenty years ago now,

    Looking at our enormous gas bill, I enquired about installing a more modern, efficient boiler.

    "Yes, it will save you gas" he said "But they are all so flimsy they will need replacing in five years. So you'll end up paying more. I'd stick with this one, if I were you".

    As he was turning down the possibility of a sale, I believed him. I just hope that he keeps going as long as I do.

  8. Anon, I appreciate it's a long term issue and good on your nephew but it does no harm highlighting it as often as possible.
    Edward, such people as your guy gives us faith in small operators in any trade!

  9. TN28 8UX
    After a year I did away with the BG service. Having been told my boiler was about to fail I put £100 a year away for a new one. I now have £1,100 and my old boiler is still going strong.

  10. I have recently had dealings with what I assume is the Scottish subsidiary of British Gas, Scottish Gas.

    And I can say that without exception they are the most awful, cack-handed, thick, unthinking, inefficient, criminally useless wastes of time I have ever, ever come across in my entire life.

    If you are in Scotland and you are thinking of having anything done at all, my advice is DON'T at any price.

    That said all the big companies are doing this to people. And, with respect OR, in your case it's not so bad. You're cerebral, and quite able to take care of yourself. Some of the customers are poor, not too bright, or old and unsure. "What if I don't have it done and it gasses me, or blows up or stops working in the middle of a freeze?" and they are frightened into money they may or may not be able to afford.

    I know it's easy to take it out on the repairer/salesman, but he's being pushed with targets and not everyone can afford to walk away from a job.

    Big business stinks to high heaven. If you can, my motto is go with the little man.

  11. PS. Well done you for highlighting these practises.

  12. Edward Spalton @ 15:50

    Your advisor was Spot-On. Modern boilers are just a few %-points more-efficient than those 10 - 15 years old, but have nothing like the life-expectancy of an older boiler, so actually don't save the Planet anything in the long term.

    If you get 10 years' service out of a condensing boiler, you're on borrowed time.

    As Anon states, there are many Service Engineers of both BG AND private companies who proudly consider themselves an 'engineer' not a 'salesman'. Sadly, the temptation of Commission can influence their attitude.

    BTW - it is not only BG which encourages replacement-sales. But they're probably the only named company a blogger would dare to identify.

  13. "British Gas. Looking after your world!"


  14. One of the first things that BG did on achieving privatisation was to make 3000 "engineers" redundant, My CORGI reg No was 1400(not true But the number might be traced to me with unknown repercussions) indicating that 25 years ago there were at least that many self employed gas fitters (the true description).
    Time to start a "gasproof website" where worried customers can get a little help. Anyone up for it.

  15. Gau8, "Looking after their world"! Anon, lovely idea, go for it. I,d do my little best to promote such a site.

  16. @Joe Public - correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that condensing boilers are only more efficient if operated at less than 150-160 degrees Fahrenheit? Above that and there is little extra heat recovery.

    So if you want a higher setting (as I prefer) then stick with an old boiler. Ours is now at least 15 years old and still going strong - it has very little to go wrong, and like other simple devices, that bodes well...

    "An 'engineer' not a 'salesman'" - That rang a bell. I used to be a service engineer for a major company, and a new senior manager decided that it would be a good idea for us to try and sell extra equipment when visiting customers. I quickly saw where this was going to lead. Despite being accused of having a "dyed in the wool" attitude, and not prepared to give things a try, I was eventually proved right. The best "salesmen" also had the poorest fault clear up rate, and were very good at selling totally unsuitable combinations. I spent much of my time trying to defuse angry customers as a result. I'll let you guess how much stuff I sold...

    Eventually the scheme was shelved!