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Scottish Hydro Electric leave 69 year old with no heating or hot water for ten days

Saturday 13 March 2010 | Written by Richard Brunton | Companies : Moans | Comments (5)

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.

Comments

Pablo
17-03-2010
01:36

That's ridiculous!! How can a company even contemplate treating its customers in this way?

I had a quick look on their website and followed links which I thought might explain their procedures.

This link:

http://www.hydro.co.uk/AboutUs/OurResponsibilities/RegulatoryInformation/

Does not work? sloppy.

Let's hope this is merely a misunderstanding and it's sorted before my post reaches your site.

anon
17-03-2010
05:27

Your father has my sympathies. We have suffered similarly!

We've had boiler cover with them for a few years and their service hasn't been great. The boiler always seemed to break down after they serviced it. However, this year they have excelled themselves!

Our boiler broke down at the beginning of December. Various engineers came to look at it, no one seemed to know what to do - however, in the end parts were ordered. Parts failed to arrive - so after 3 weeks without heating and hot water, we sourced and paid for the part ourselves. Getting an engineer to come and fit that part was like pulling teeth. They said they would turn up, they didn't etc etc and so it went on. In the end, after 3 weeks, there was a temporary fix - but we still needed another part, which they put on order, to fix it properly.

As compensation for our aggravation, we were offered a discount on our utility bill and reimbursement of the part we paid for. That was never confirmed in writing so we are still out of pocket.

Today, the boiler broke down again. They had never come back to fit the part - and it's 3 months later!!!!

We are really unhappy with their service and attitude. Plus we wrote to their Chairman at the end of January (7 weeks ago) and haven't even received an acknowledgment letter!

I think our next stop will be the Ombudsman.

Obviously, I have posted a shortened version here. The aggravation has been incredible; their customer service appalling - they really gave us the runaround and it's not over yet.

Stephen Appleton
17-03-2010
05:59

I sympathise! While not 69 years of age, I have a wife and young children. As the weather turned to almost -10 towards the end of last year my boiler began making a racket. After numerous visits from what I consider totally incompetent engineers and technicians the problem still persists. Several parts have been replaced unnecessarily. Parts take SHE longer to get than it takes me to obtain. The engineers/technicians appear unable or unwilling to read simple flow diagrams presented to them on the open and relevant page of the boiler instruction and maintenance manual. After some visits engineers had made the problem worse than before thier visit. One Saturday I was told a part wasn't available, so I made one phone call and located a part 45 minutes away in Perth - 5 minutes drive from SHE head office! I told HSE that it was there and suggested they picked it up and fitted it to my boiler. Believing that they wouldn't I drove over to Perth myself and 3 hours after telling HSE the part was available there I purchased the part at exactly 12.00 noon when the part shop closed. Driving home, I received a call from a manager who so terribly sorry that he was unable to locate the part and well couldn't fit it until it had been ordered on Monday and delivered on Tuesday. Oh I said, that's peculiar, I've got the part I told you about 3.5 hours ago sitting next to me on the passenger seat. Are you sending an engineer to fit it this afternoon or shall I fit it. After a short and stunned silence he said he would definitely send an engineer to fit it today. Well 4.00pm came, 5.00pm came, 7.00pm came and still no show. Several chasing phone calls and close to 8.00pm a promise of a visit or phone call on Sunday morning. Well I am still waiting for that phone call or visit! Now 3+ months later. I wrote to the chairman of SHE 7 weeks ago and as yet have no reply! I don't intend to stop here and suggest anyone else who has this poor level of customer service persues the matter to the end. I will never ever pay for boiler cover with this company again and will not hesitate to make sure all my contacts have this advice. PS another national company offering a similar type contract are not much better!

weblog.brunton.org.uk
18-03-2010
04:05
[OpenID Commenter Profile]

Thanks for the comments guys. Hey Pablo, long time no speak.

Unfortunately things haven't cleared up and my Dad and brother had to push to source the part. They have it and it looks like less than ten days, but still a week. Ridiculous. Luckily he hasn't died through lack of heating and hot water. That would have put a black mark on their offshore paperwork.

Pablo
19-03-2010
02:02

Heya Richard, yeah I have been slack(and lazy).

Maybe i could get a job as a boiler fixer man.

Seriously though, the process for resolving these issues appears to be way too slow and it looks like the companies involved either know that or just don't care.


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