Published:
18/05/02
Right of Reply email sent:
18/05/02

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British Gas


Windsor
Dedicated Page in the Public Domain
Complainant:
Mr J Postlethwaite

Town/City of Residence:
Hammersmith


May I, through the medium of your website, bring to light my experience of the lamentable lack of service provided by British Gas Home Care Central Heating cover.
A chronology of (non-)events follows:

Friday 19 April – leak spotted coming through kitchen ceiling, suspected from water cylinder in airing cupboard immediately above. Call out British Gas (BG) under Home Service Agreement we pay them £12-something a month for eventualities such as these.

Saturday 20 April - man comes, confirms leak is from tank which he then disconnects and drains. He tells us that the tank is one he has not come across before and it may take 'a little while' to locate one. When asked what a little while is he says 'normally about five days, but as you have a little kid (daughter, age 9), I'll get them to get onto it.'

Friday 26 April
- BG ring to tell us that the part they have ordered is now obsolete and give me the number of a senior engineer to ring to arrange to come round to have another look at the cylinder. I ring the engineer and ask if he can come round today. He says the earliest he can come round is Monday at 10.30am. When I ask if he can send someone else, he more or less tells me that it has to be himself.

Monday 29 April
- noon and no sign of the engineer. I ring to ask where he is at and he apologises profusely about the misunderstanding that has led to his non-appearance. The earliest he can come round now is Wednesday at 3.30pm. When I tell him we can't wait that long, he says he'll arrange for someone else to come round. Another engineer turns up later that afternoon, measures up and tells us it 'shouldn't be a problem' getting a replacement tank.

Tuesday 30 April
- ring BG to ask if tank has been ordered. They tell me it has, but that it's a special order and may take 'up to ten days' before their supplier can deliver it to them.

Wednesday 1 May - ring BG to ask them to chase order and to ensure that when the part is delivered to them they can organise for an engineer to come and fit it the next day. I explain about the one week false start with the previous order and that my wife is currently suffering from a frozen shoulder which is showing no sign of responding to treatment. Hot baths obviously help relieve the pain and that she hasn't been able to have too many of those lately without either boiling up loads of kettles, or arranging to go next door for a bath when the neighbours are out.

Thursday 2 May
- BG ring to tell me that the part will be delivered to them 'on Tuesday' and that they will ring to confirm its coming into stock. This is when things start getting really interesting.

Tuesday 7 May
- 4.30pm - no call from BG to tell me that the part has come in. I ring and ask where it is. 'Its not come in' they say. When I ask why, they tell me that the long Bank Holiday weekend has messed up their supplier’s delivery schedule and that the part will be in on Thursday.

Thursday 9 May
- no part in stock. 'What's happened to it?' I ask. 'Oh, they aren't delivering again this week, it'll be early next week' they say, blithely. I ask to speak to a manager and am told first that they're all in meetings (Yeah, right, nobody believed that one even when it wasn't a lie!) and then that a manager will just tell me the same thing. ‘Okay’, I say 'So let him tell me the same thing.' They say someone will ring me back within 90 minutes.

Friday 10 May
- no one has rung back from the previous day. I ring again... and again... and again... and again. I have to admit that in one of these calls, after going through the same old routine of giving my postcode, my house number, my name, my phone number, and then being told that they'd just put me on hold while they found out what was happening I finally lost it. 'No, I don't want to have to listen to (goshdarn) Enya again. Just get someone with some authority to ring me and tell me what's happening with my (freaking) water tank.' An alleged supervisor eventually rings, but with the same excuses.

Tuesday 14 May
- it is now 25 days since the leak, 23 days since BG first attempted to order a cylinder, 15 days since their second engineer came round, and allowing for the bank holiday, ten working days since the cylinder was ordered, and we are no nearer to seeing this part replaced in the near future. I ring BG again. The lady has no estimated date of delivery on her screen, but tells me 'we are chasing it for you.' They always say that. I tell them, and also their Customer Relations department, that the only thing that will satisfy me now is nothing less than a firm fixed date of delivery, and an explanation of, and apology for, being fobbed off with lies and bovine excrement regarding mythical delivery dates the previous week. If not, I will take my complaint further. No one rings back. Late afternoon I ring again. They say ‘Transportation problems; it should (‘should’, mark you, not ‘will’) be in on Friday.’ I write this.

Now, I can appreciate that if a part is uncommon, it make take a while to obtain, but what I particularly object to is the consistent lying and fobbing off, and the failure to ring back when promised.

I also find it wholly inappropriate that when you ring to chase something up, and are about to ring off, having had a totally unsatisfactory response, the person at the end of the line says 'While you're on, can I interest you in our new household appliance cover scheme', or 'our new electric wiring scheme cover' which has happened more than once during the above calls.

Finally, if I may be allowed one more indulgence. Lovers of irony may appreciate this... it's from Centrica (BG's parent company)'s complaints policy which is posted on their website at www.centrica.com/textsite/customers/complaints.htm for anyone who cares to look.

"We are committed to ensuring all our customers receive the best possible service... Through regular dialogue with our customers we understand what the important factors are when dealing with organisations. These are:
* We will listen to, understand and care about why you are dissatisfied.
* We will endeavour to resolve your problem at the first point of contact that you make with us.
* We will take ownership of your complaint to ensure resolution.
* We will offer fair solutions quickly."

All of which they have singularly failed to achieve.

The saga continues!: Clik here to read

Link to Other British Gas Complaints



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previously submitted Consumer Comments
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came across this website after similar problems with B Gas. It might at least provide some amusement - scratched an itch with me! uk.geocities.com/british_gas_complaints Ally Hillman...28 May 2002
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we too have had the identical problem of our 'special tank,
needing to be ordered. We also have had the same run around..... we have been guaranteed Friday but the faith we have in this company has diminished rapidly. When we change our heating system in the future, we certainly will not be choosing gas! The engineer said a cylinder tank was the biggest claim......I wonder why they don't hold a minimal stock level?
Mr & Mrs Ann Fletcher... 18 March 2003

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