Now straight away I’m going to say that this is a recount of the story that has happened to my father which he told me over the phone last night, a fuller account will come as he calms down from the stress and me from the anger, for this is a disgraceful situation for Scottish Hydro Electric and either reeks of extreme incompetence or a deliberate attempt to exploit a sixty-nine year old man living by himself. It sounds like one of these rip-off stories you hear on programmes like Watchdog, where a small company bullies old people into giving them large amounts of cash for work that just doesn’t need to be done. It’s almost as if my father is being held to ransom. Let me recount the story, and I’m sure my father will add more detail or correct me through the comments or by email. My father is sixty-nine and lives by himself just south of Aberdeen, Scotland, and anyone who knows Scotland will know it’s a damn cold place, indeed the coldest that’s being expected over the next ten days is three degrees centigrade. He pays Scottish Hydro Electric money to come and service his gas boiler regularly, the boiler supplies the heating and hot water for the entire house. My father is very careful and well prepared, and even has a carbon monoxide/dioxide sensor in the house to measure any problems with the system, it’s regularly checked and tested, and there have been no problems. The other day an Engineer arrived, one that my father discovered was Vokera trained (something I believe means that they are trained in the type of boiler) and had a good conversation with the man who performed the service. It didn’t take too long and the result was that a filter needed to be replaced, a part that needed ordering and another engineer would return to fit it later. That engineer did, and my father was none too impressed. The man was there for the entire afternoon and he didn’t manage to engage him in conversation, the engineer was in and out of the house slamming the door and upsetting the dog, on the phone to other people discussing what to do with the boiler and how to do it, it didn’t sound like a Vokera trained engineer. The upshot of it was that the Engineer finally pulled the fuse off the boiler and told my father that after his afternoon of tinkering it was unsafe to use, dangerous in fact, and slapped a notice on the boiler saying that it could not be used any more. The engineer went on to say that they would need to order many more new parts and that this could take up to ten days, just to get the parts. Worse than that he began to suggest that the flu was in the wrong place and might have to be moved around the house – bear in mind this boiler and house have been there for maybe fourteen or fifteen years and, although the boiler isn’t that age by any means, there’s always been service contracts on the boiler and entire heating system. My father was becoming more and more stressed at this point and called my brother to come round and deal with the engineer, but as soon as he saw my brother arriving he was off like a shot. My father then began phoning the foreign call centre (for SCOTTISH Hydro Electric) and spent ages trying to speak to someone with some authority. He finally talked to someone with a title of Manager and was informed that they were trying to phone round for parts, and come the end of the day he was told they couldn’t find any of them in Scotland and would try calling again on Monday, leaving him without hot water or heating all weekend. This is where the situation has been left. My father is currently suffering from sinusitis and is preparing for ten days without hot water or heating, and in order to get it back he’s going to have to fork out a lot of money to a company that already told him there was nothing wrong with the boiler and it just needed a simple filter replacement. So either one of the engineers have made a mistake, although why it’s unsafe when there’s no carbon monoxide/dioxide being detected in the house is uncertain, and now they’ve stopped hot water and heating with no consideration for the health of a sixty-nine year old man on his own. Incompetence or a deliberate money making scheme? Either way endangering the health of an old man is no answer to any situation. Let’s hope he doesn’t become more ill as a result of this, or perhaps even worse.