/ Home & Energy, Money

Is your boiler engineer actually a salesman?

Boiler being serviced

We’ve heard from homeowners who’ve sold products during a boiler service. Would you be happy to hear their recommendations – or are they just taking advantage of the situation?

We surveyed more than 1,500 Which? members and found that around one in five have had a boiler engineer try to sell or recommend extra products during their most recent boiler service.

Which firms are worst?

The figures differ sharply between companies. Four in ten British Gas customers told us their engineer had recommended or tried to sell them products the last time their boiler was serviced. And more than three in ten Npower customers said the same.

At the other end of the scale, fewer than one in ten Worcester Bosch and Corgi HomePlan customers said their engineer had tried to sell or recommend products to them.

So what products were being pushed? We found that the most recommended products were gas detectors and carbon monoxide alarms, followed by a new boiler and then a power or system flush.

But these are not the most-bought products when an engineer makes a recommendation. The items that customers are most willing to part with their cash for are filters and new heating controls.

Would you buy from an engineer?

Most customers said they were given enough time and information to make a considered choice about whether to buy a product. But it’s still important to make sure you’re not rushed – if in doubt, shop around to check you’re getting a good deal or go to a Which? Trusted Trader for a second opinion.

What do you think of engineers doubling up as salespeople? Would you consider buying new products if they were recommended, or are the companies just using it as an opportunity to make more money?

Psmith says:
7 November 2015

The person that services your boiler is a technician not a professional engineer


The Gas Safe Register refers to Gas Engineers. It’s just common usage, like using ‘chemist’ to describe a pharmacy. I’m far more concerned about companies trying to sell goods and services beyond what we have asked for – which goes far beyond the focus of this Conversation.


Chemist and Pharmacists are a different issue. Both require degree level training and accreditation. Engineer requires a degree level course, but technician does not. It’s the same as using Doctor to describe the person who runs a holistic health clinic. These titles matter, because they embody standards and requirements for those holding and entitled to use Engineer and Doctor. Technicians, on the other hand, may well also be salesmen. The fact that the title Engineer is used by the Gas Safe Register in a loosely defined and inadequate sense doesn’t make it acceptable.


We often mis-use the term “engineer” in the UK. An engineer is not just practical in the application of his (or her) knowledge but understands the science and mathematics that underpin that knowledge and is thus skilled in innovation, research, design and allied topics. Some continentals, particularly the Germans, use the term correctly for those belonging to the profession and as such they have a higher status than we often give them. I wonder how many more students might enter the field if they felt it was both a profession and held in some regard?


I don’t want someone who services my boiler to try to sell me anything, thank-you. I agree that it’s worth recommending carbon monoxide alarms for those that don’t have them and checking that existing ones are working and in-date, but there is no need to sell them. I have heard of cases where customers have been recommended to pay for power flushing that was not needed and even to have their boiler replaced with a more efficient one when it would take years to recoup the cost. It is a problem that the average person will not know whether work is necessary or the service guy is trying to earn a bonus for generating more business.

Why do we need ‘status’, Malcolm? Whether we are trained to design space ships, do brain surgery, service boilers or are ‘unskilled’, we deserve respect if we do a good job.


“Why do we need status, Malcolm”. Status not in a snobbish sense, but in recognition of the role professional engineers have. I believe many people may be put off engineering as a profession, particularly when choosing college and university courses, because they may not understand what professional engineering is about.

We need qualified engineers – electrical, mechanical, chemical and so on to help recreate the manufacturing wealth of this country. So we need to attract more young people into the discipline.


Science probably benefits more than engineering from subjects taught in schools – biology, chemistry, maths and physics – but unless children have parents or relatives in science or engineering they are unlikely to be able to appreciate the career opportunities, especially those outside industry. With the decline in manufacturing industry in the UK, perhaps we should focus on education in its many forms, including in-service training for those in the commercial sector. Many eschew higher education or vocational training in favour of more money and a company car.

I would be interested to know if it is mainly the larger companies that push customers to buy additional goods and services.


Couldnt agree more malcolm you are not alone in saying this industry backs you up to the hilt. Because of the “flattening of British industry ” by you know who -quote -I dont understand engineering -no prizes for guessing correctly this country is left in this state . When -say a mechanical engineer was repairing a piece of factory machinery he usually had a “helper ” this helper was a semi-skilled individual -classed that way by the unions and management as they were not technically capable of diagnosing and repairing complicated machine tools now the same “semi-skilled ” individuals are doing just that that isnt being snobbish ,I hate snobs but its being realistic as to the capabilities of an individual. The government has no option because of their previous political decisions but to implement this new way of working hoping it wont cost too many lives the same is happening in the NHS.

Ian says: