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British Gas HomeCare refusing to fix boiler unless customer agrees to PowerFlush

Discussion in 'Plumbing and Central Heating' started by Ian Ed, 10 Feb 2021.

  1. Ian Ed

    Ian Ed

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    Would appreciate others thoughts on whether the behaviour of British Gas is legal under the terms and conditions of their HomeCare T&Cs and whether the requirement for a Powerflush is genuinely necessary. (Appreciate it’s possibly not the right site for my question on the legality of their behaviour, but advice welcome nonetheless).

    My partner’s mother has had British Gas HomeCare support agreement in place since her boiler was installed, just over 10 years ago.

    The boiler (an Ideal Logic + Combi) developed a fault (L3 code) last Thursday 4th February.

    A HomeCare service engineer visited on Friday and reported that he’d fixed it and performed a full service.

    The L3 fault reoccurred on Monday and was fixed by a HomeCare emergency cover engineer on Monday evening. He reported that it could be due to an intermittent fault on the thermistor or PCB. And should it reoccur they should be replaced. He accidently forgot to reconnect the condensate outlet pipe which was left dripping, but this is minor compared to the next visit.

    The L3 fault re-occurred a third time late yesterday evening.

    A service engineer attended today. He checked the thermistor and PCB and claimed they were fine. He cleaned the pump and reported that was running fine. However, he reported that the L3 fault and a new L5 fault were still occurring probably due to obstructed flow in the heat exchangers or other components. He stated that the heat exchangers needed replacing, but he wouldn’t do so unless she agreed to perform a PowerFlush costing £850, as he stated there was sludge circulating in the system. To the best of my knowledge he didn’t actually look at the heat exchangers, or attempt to clean them. He also reported that a sleeve of the magnetic filter was missing (so it wasn’t fully protecting the boiler from circulating iron oxide sludge). But as HomeCare have had the service contract for the boiler since it was installed I can only assume the missing sleeve was down to one of their service engineers (odd that none had previously mentioned it during annual services).

    The relevant Terms & Conditions of the Home Care agreement https://www.britishgas.co.uk/aem6/c...-care/HomeCare-Range-Terms-and-Conditions.pdf are worded as follows …

    What’s not included

    · Damage caused by limescale, sludge or other debris – if we’ve told you before that you need to carry out repairs, improvements or a British Gas Powerflush, or a similar process, but you haven’t done so.​

    (my emphasis in italics)

    He was the first engineer to suggest that the system required a Powerflush. She hadn’t been informed before that such a procedure was required. Indeed the same boiler had been serviced by two other engineers in the preceding few days, neither of whom had reported an issue with sludge or a requirement to perform a Powerflush.

    Therefore, in my view it’s British Gas’s responsibility to carry out whatever repairs are necessary to get the boiler functioning again, without her having to agree in advance of the repairs to perform a Powerflush. What do others think?

    I’ve flushed my own CH system through (just with mains pressure water, one radiator at a time, and added inhibitor) a few times over the past 25 years, a process that takes several hours. Would happily do the same for her CH system, but she’s in Hounslow and I’m in Edinburgh and Covid restrictions would prevent a visit in any case.

    My partner’s mother is an 82 year old, suffering from serious health conditions, and because of the response of this engineer has now been left without central heating or hot water, on what are expected to be the coldest day and night for several years in London.
     
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  3. muggles

    muggles

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    @shambolic is our resident Ideal expert and may have other ideas, but from what you've described I'd be looking at the PCB in the first instance.

    As for the powerflush, it might be worth pointing out to British Gas that they installed the boiler in the first place and have been the sole company who have worked on it since, so if it needs a powerflush now then that's due to their incorrect installation & maintenance of the boiler over the past 10 years.

    BG won't accept anyone else doing the flush, it would have to be them.
     
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  4. shambolic

    shambolic

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    L3 is no flow thermistor fault. This could be pump, plate hex or main hex. L5 is return thermistor fault. But could be due to engineer disconnecting stat at some point as boiler stores fault codes.
    if they fitted and maintained it from new (and you haven’t drained rads for decorating etc) then it’s up to them to flush it and replace any components. you may find the engineer has allegedly advised on a flush to get the sale and his monthly upgrade figures up not realising it’s their instal.
    I certainly wouldn’t be paying anything tbh and would be complaining up the line until it’s repaired.
     
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  5. ianmcd

    ianmcd

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    As already advised get straight on to customer services and tell them they installed it they have been maintaining it now get it sorted, I guarentee you they will miraculously be able to sort it with out a power flush, BG are a total disgrace and this is common practice, if the engineer does not meet a sales goal every month, they lose bonus and have to attend a meeting about getting their sales up, it is company policy to do this, tell them you are getting Ideal in under a fixed price repair and if they can sort it without a power flush then you will be sending the bill to them and expect compensation for their illegal practices
     
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  6. Madrab

    Madrab

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    @Ian Ed, it's not clear, did BG install the boiler? Do BG even install Ideal's? It's just you mention that BG have looked after it since it was installed?
     
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  7. Ian Ed

    Ian Ed

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    Hi Rob, I believe it was installed by another company, just over 10 years ago. But BG HomeCare have been used for the annual service and call out cover since. They've been okay about fixing issues in the past. And were okay this time (aside from the difficulties in resolving the current issue), until yesterday when they refused to repair the fault unless she agreed to the PowerFlush.
     
  8. Madrab

    Madrab

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    Hmmmm... ok, so is it reasonable to assume that BG should have known the system condition & was being paid, over a period of 10 years, that the system stays in good condition.

    It's all down to the clever wording in the contract though, worth a closer check.

    If it was their job to maintain the health of the wet system too then there could be a good case to be had .... In essence it is like saying:- ok you have to pay for an expensive fix that's required to make the boiler run properly and that's because the wet system hasn't been properly maintained and flow is compromised. Oh and the people you have been paying for 10 years to do that is .... erm ... oh ... us o_O
     
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  9. Ian Ed

    Ian Ed

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    Many thanks all for your advice.

    Following an escalated complaint to customer service, managed to get another engineer to visit late this afternoon. To give credit to BG they have been very good at sending out engineers at short notice, during a period of very high demand. This was a bona fide BG engineer. Apparently the engineer who visited yesterday and insisted on the Powerflush before he’d proceed with the repair was a contractor (not sure what his incentive was for trying to insist on a Powerflush – he even stated that because he was a contractor he had nothing to gain from insisiting on a Powerflush). Appears that there’s currently an industrial dispute between BG and their engineers, so the BG employees are not working all days – and cover for those days (plus for the extra demand arising from the cold spell) is being met through third party contractors.

    Today’s BG engineer reported that the issue was with the pressure sensor (not detecting when the pump was on), and having cleaned or replaced that, the boiler is now working again and “touch wood” the issue has been resolved (at least for a while).

    He also couldn’t see any issue with sludge and didn’t think a Powerflush was necessary.

    Apparently the “missing” sleeve on the mag filter that yesterday’s contract engineer had referred to, was simply down to the mag filter being an earlier model (with a brass finish, rather than a smooth black outer jacket). Yesterday’s engineer had also referred in conversation to the mag filter as a magnetron … and I’m pretty sure they belong in microwaves – not attached to the return pipe of the boiler :)

    Appears that we may just have been unfortunate to have encountered a rogue subcontractor who for whatever reason was determined that a Powerflush was necessary.

    So our faith in the BG engineers themselves is restored for the time being.
     
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  11. bourbon

    bourbon

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    The dispute is to do with the fact that BG want to fire all of their engineers and rehire them on worse terms and conditions
     
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  12. Nige F

    Nige F

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    So does BG have any Union representation ? 40 years since Sid was told about the shares "windfall" :eek:
     
  13. Hugh Jaleak

    Hugh Jaleak

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  14. Money
     
  15. I thought they were on strike over signing a new contract?
     
  16. bourbon

    bourbon

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    they are trying to fire them first to get them to sign the new contract. Legal in this country apparently. Not so in the EU.
     
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