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Which? exposes boiler servicing shortcomings

Consumer magazine Which? has found that four out of 10 engineers called out to service a boiler failed “to do their job properly”.

A wire that prevented ignition was disconnected before the engineers arrived and the magazine’s boiler expert then observed how each engineer tackled the problem.

After analysing the results of the 10 call-outs - which resulted in 12 visits in total, as British Gas required three attempts - Which? found that four engineers showed shortcomings in their service. The magazine will publish its findings in its September issue next month.

The engineers had been asked to service the boiler and were not informed of the nature of the fault. Homeserve, British Gas, npower and Vaillant were the four nationwide repairers to be rated, with the remaining six being unnamed, independent operators.

While Vaillant was the only company providing the service as part of a contract (its engineer successfully completed all tasks), all others were booked on an ad hoc basis.

The Homeserve subcontracted engineer was criticised for not properly servicing the boiler, while British Gas was criticised for taking three attempts to complete the call.

From the independent repairers, prices varied between £10 and £130. Quotes to fix the problem (the disconnected wire) varied from £200 for a new pump to £500 for a gas valve or new circuit board.

Only two of the independent engineers successfully completed all the checks required. The magazine will also include an article on the effectiveness of boiler servicing contracts.

The report will state that as the majority of services do not require parts, a service contract is “unlikely” to save money.