/ Home & Energy

Boiler servicing: have you paid over the odds for cover?

Boiler cover typically provides peace of mind to those who want to get quick, reliable service in the event of an emergency – but it can come at a cost.

We’re used to introductory offers. A free trial of Netflix before the direct debit kicks in. A great interest rate on a savings account that eventually dwindles into pennies. Getting a half-price TV package for being a new customer.

Some are surprised to find that their bills go up after the initial offer runs out. Other hardened bargain-seekers hop from account to account to take advantage of as many introductory deals as possible.

But when it comes to boiler cover, it would seem that the price hikes can be a little more unreasonable. We’re looking for examples as part of our boiler servicing contracts investigation. So have you found yourself paying sky-high prices for boiler cover?

Rising price of cover

The Which? Money October 2015 investigation into home emergency cover found that some providers introduce a significant price jump for boiler cover in the second year. One provider almost doubled the cost for customers who stayed on after one year.

But the big surprise may come when you replace your boiler. You’d probably expect boiler cover to cost slightly more as the boiler ages. However, we’ve heard stories of people who have taken out cover on an older boiler. But when they got it replaced, they ended up paying exactly the same amount to cover one that’s much less likely to fail.

We’ve also heard from a Which? reader who managed to negotiate the cost of their boiler cover down after the price went up after a year. While this savvy homeowner managed to get a refund, they were concerned that others may find themselves lumped with an unfair increase to their bill.

Stung by the cost of boiler cover

So tell me, have you found yourself in a similar situation, where you’ve noticed a significant hike in the cost of your boiler servicing contract for no good reason? Or have you contacted a provider to ask why you’re paying more – and managed to bag a refund?

Comments
Member

My burglar alarm rental went up each year as did my boiler care plan. I ditched both for buy completely alternatives. In the case of the boiler I use a local firm when required. The last service under the care plan lasted twenty minutes door in door out and that cost me £13 50 a month. Sky TV also love their captive audience and regularly hike their subscriptions. When “they” (firms that lock you in to a regular subscription) think you can’t or don’t want to leave, they have you at their mercy. The temptation is to make an annual increase small enough not to shock and large enough to annoy. The AA did this to me for breakdown cover until I left them.

Member

Your comment on burglar alarms interested me Vynor I fitted my own wiring in all the rooms with detectors and also window break detectors . I notice the new ones are radio controlled with no wiring but then you have the batteries to replace . Quite a few BT engineers in my day “moon lighted ” as alarm installers , used to get the parts wholesale . make sure the external box is good quality and change the battery every two or three years.

Member

The only problem with installing and maintaining your own alarm system is that a system has to be professionally maintained (and maybe installed) to qualify for a discount on home insurance. I know this from experience. 🙁

Member

Wavechange I know you like “going by the book ” but check into what or who qualifies to be called a “burglar alarm professional ” . I am streets ahead of them in technical knowledge and qualifications when it comes to electronics . I could at a pinch repair the old main unit PCB but now its a case of replacement of them , just like a “professional ” would do. Have you seen the training? no disrespect but you certainly dont need a degree in electronics they just get a bit of training nowadays in the basic essentials . I have wired up some very complicated systems in the past . This word “professional ” although sounding like Professor is by no stretch of the imagination in the same league as you and it is now applied with a vengeance to lots of jobs where the staff watch videos or go for a couple of weeks of training . I spent 5 years at an apprenticeship in all factory equipment repair and replacement . I qualified as a Hospital Engineer , I am qualified to work on fork lift trucks , I have decades of training in the old TV and radio repair and am conversant in building solid state equipment including top of the line Hi Fi power amps and the repair of them including all valve equipment , all types of electronic test gear and I have built my own distortion analyser testing down below -0.001 % THD . I have had extensive training with BT on all its old business electronic switching equipment at Otley , W, Yorks and Harrogate ( where HMG armed forces were trained ) and much more so even at my old age I would have no problem getting a “professional ” certificate to install/repair burglar equipment and yes I am up to date with the test equipment used to test them with , I also have equipment for testing digital circuits ( ex HMG forces ) . It is a case nowadays that a repair man goes in and changes a PCB , no unsoldering parts , too costly for the company .

Member

When I have spoken to home insurers they have insisted on NACOSS (now NSI)-approved alarm companies to offer a discount. Before house and car alarms were sold to the public, I made my own, including making my own fibreglass circuit boards and hand-soldered the components. Happy days, but it has been a hobby rather than a living for me.

Meanwhile back on boiler servicing, Which? has found some of the workmanship is poor and some checks may be overlooked.

Member

We’ve had quite a few changes of boiler servicing over the years as we have replaced companies that were not giving value for money. It seems to me that there are some good firms among those in the lower price bracket and some poorly performing firms in the top price bracket. I find mid-size firms [around twenty vans] give the fairest value for money on balance, have reliable and well-trained operatives, and have the capacity to cover emergencies well. Even though modern boiler servicing has become quicker and easier, I think companies should show their customers some respect and at least look at the whole system during their visit and check that pumps, valves and controllers are operating properly and safely. Some companies that offer a service plan don’t even carry out a service every twelve months – they only undertake to do one per calendar year so the intervals can be more than twelve months [the direct debit payment is taken on the anniversary of course].

Member

You are absolutely right about inspection, John. Hopefully the householder will check that hand-operated valves do close and are not showing any sign of leakage, but it’s one thing that a service engineer should check. They should also look at concentration of corrosion inhibitor in the system and drain a little water from a downstairs radiator to look for evidence of corrosion.

Member
bishbut says:
12 August 2016

As with everything else if the price goes up I always look elsewhere and always find an alternative at a much cheaper or more reasonable price With most things I have never kept the same supplier for year after year.This year I did keep the same House Insurance company which only cost 60p more than the cheapest alternative which was with the same company