/ Home & Energy

Scam watch: have you been cold called by a boiler scam?

Boiler

Be warned, cold calls flogging new boilers are on the rise. But as John suspected these are likely to be a scam.

John told us: ‘I’ve received cold calls from a range of numbers. The calls consist only of a recorded male voice telling me about new boiler regulations in Europe. It says that every household in my local area must install a new A-rated boiler by the end of 2016.

‘I am confident that existing non-A-rated domestic boilers will continue to be legitimate until they reach the end of their economically serviceable lives – and that these calls are a potential scam. I shudder to think what sales pitch some naive consumer might receive if they were to press the relevant button to follow up the call.’

Our advice on suspicious calls

Unfortunately, it appears there’s been an increase in cold callers trying to convince people they need a new boiler since the introduction of the Energy-related Products (ErP) Directive in September 2015.

As part of this directive, boilers and other electrical products must meet new minimum energy efficiency requirements in order to be sold in Europe.

However, existing products aren’t affected by these regulations, so we’d imagine you’re correct to assume this is a ploy to trick you out of money. You should report these calls to the police, trading standards and Action Fraud. Don’t forget that you can also report the call to us too.

Never buy anything as a result of unsolicited contact. However, if a sale is agreed over the phone, then the Consumer Contracts Regulations apply and you have 14 days to cancel penalty-free.

Have you been nuisance called about an A-rated boiler?

[UPDATE 17 MARCH 2016] – A Scottish boiler replacement company has been fined £180,000 for making millions of automated nuisance calls. Glasgow-based FEP Heatcare Ltd made 2,692,217 unwanted automated calls between April and July 2015.

And despite being warned to stop making illegal calls by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), FEP started to do so again by bombarding people with recorded messages. The ICO traced these calls to FEP Heatcare even though the calls didn’t identify a caller.

Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:

‘The ICO is right to hit companies with hefty fines for bombarding people with nuisance calls, especially when they fail to listen to previous warnings.’

Comments
Prof Susanta Sarkar says:
24 May 2016

Yes, several times but quite low key- no return lately.

I object to be told that I “must” get a new energy efficient boiler!! Every UK home must have this done by 2017!! Some of the latest calls have been about – kitchen scrappage, roof scrappage and the old favourite window scrappage !! As and when I need to replace any of these items, I am perfectly capable of doing the research myself !!Also since it became illegal for cold callers not to leave a number I have had at least 20 calls showing – “unavailable” or “withheld” or a number that is “not recognised” when I check it. The government legislation should have been that any number left by a cold caller had to be a bone fide number capable of taking incoming calls !!! Legislation should be put in place that stops companies for example the DVLA from selling our details to third parties – what about data protection laws??? DVLA customers do NOT consent to their details being passed to third parties in order that we can be bombarded with nuisance calls.

Margaret Wilson says:
24 May 2016

Well said, Mary, I am in total agreement. No one should be legally allowed to sell our private details to anyone.
I also in the last two days have had phone calls with no number left, particularly about boilers and the non existent National Database.
There needs to be much tougher legislation. How can these scammers buy numbers? Could this not be stopped?

I can’t see any way to stop such calls. Thankfully, it takes only a few seconds to say, “Sorry, we don’t accept unsolicited calls,” before replacing the receiver. (Incredibly, I’ve just HAD one..!)

It is clear to me that the main solution to this problem lies with the phone companies – it should be made illegal for any phone company to provide a service that allows the caller to withhold their number. Additionally, there is a new problem where some callers are providing a bogus number to get around call blockers.

jane says:
25 May 2016

Have had far to many to count and have blocked many of the numbers which are persistent to no effect – much like the ineffectual laws which are supposed to stop them.

Julian says:
25 May 2016

Had enough for ever! They don’t want your opinion or even what you might want to say to them but oh boy do they ever keep calling me. It’s sheer harrassment it is. Should be punishable by prison time.

When someone comes to your door trying to sell you something always ask for I.D. take a contact number of the company they are saying they are from and call the number and ask the company is there any of there employee’s with that name on there I.D. Never let anyone over the doorstep always leave the person outside and make sure there is no other way of them getting in.

I have a wonderful form of heating Combined heating and power – not a boiler in site! However many many times a day I am bombarded by the calls for a new boiler. An option not to get more calls on this is supposedly simply to press the number 8/9 (dependent who calls) and I always do this and still they go on on on and on…..

Hello Sylvia,

Unfortunately, pressing the ‘take me off your call list’ number is not reliable and it exposes you to further risks: it confirms the existence of a live telephone line from which your address and other details can be derived, it enables the call originator to sell on your number [and for a higher price as it is a proven line], and pressing 8 or 9 might connect you to a premium rate line. Best not to do it.

Why dont people just say,” no thank you,please leave “close the door and carry on with their day.

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well I just say it’s my landlord that deals with it thank you and good bye

When your mother is in hospital. and you know she’s dying, and every time the phone rings you fear the worst but answer – “you could be eligible for an A rated boiler” – and you get this at least 3 times a day. And when your mother has died, and it’s a stressful time, trying to organise and keep family and friends informed, and you still get 3 calls a day “you could be eligible for an A rated boiler”. And still they keep ringing. These calls have, in my case, been more than a nuisance for months. If I could get my hands on the people behind them, I would not be responsible for my actions. They must be stopped.

Some times i can get 5 or more a day they stopped for a while, but now they are back . The latest one is because i pay my bills and taxes the government is going to give me £8000.00 pounds, and take down the number to call to claim the money.

I am with virgin, when i asked about stopping the calls,they told me they could stop them ,but i would have to pay for the service. I told them they should supply this and we should not have to pay, how much more do they want to screw out of us.

I recently lost my wife suddenly. i constantlt have these cslls offering Mrs Marshall a new computer. she didnt even have a computer, and thats not to mention the ones about a nwe A rated boiler and new doible glazing.

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I am regularly call by automated call from someone trying to sell me a boiler saying it is the Energy Trust and to opt out to press 8 however this does not work I stil get at least 2 calls a week

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Suzanne Flynn says:
24 October 2016

I have been having these calls about a new boiler for years. They are withheld or international numbers so I can’t screen them. Am signed up for TPS but that does not stop these calls. I can’t report them as I don’t know who they are . Why don’t the authorities get them stopped! Have had four this morning. I don’t answer them but they ;eave messages on my answer machine.

I`m just stopping with my 83yr old father and he has at least 2 calls each day offering these. I`ve reported to BT, just put down the phone to them and its tjhe automated call warning me URGENT DO YOU OWN A BOILER?

Richard says:
14 November 2016

I am getting two of these pre-recorded calls a day. They always come from 5 digit numbers, eg 01235 67859, which are untraceable, and the same number never calls twice. I’ve even tried selecting the option to speak to an ‘advisor’ in an attempt to trace who is behind the calls, but the line just goes dead. Something has to be done to stop these pointless nuisance calls!

“Dear @FULLNAME@,
Does £19.99 per month* sound like a big investment?
It’s less than your average mobile phone contract and when you consider that old inefficient boilers are actually COSTING YOU as much as £47.50† each month more than they should, you can start to see why it’s already looking good on paper for your fuel bills.
So what does £19.99pm* Get You?
• A new ‘A’ rated energy efficient boiler.
• Safe removal & recycle of your old boiler.
• 12 years full boiler service & maintenance cover.
• Unlimited call outs and repairs.
• Same day emergency call outs.
• No increase in monthly payments if you claim.
We can install your new boiler in a matter of days which means you will be saving on your fuel bill as soon as next month!
All you need to do is click the button below to find out more.
Share This With Your Friends!

http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/domestic/replacing-my-boiler
*£19.99pm requires an upfront payment of £1999. £39.99pm does not require any upfront payment. Subject to credit check for full terms please visit our terms and conditions page in the link below.”

A cold email. Has anyone ever pursued this? Which? might like to comment. I didn’t open the link to see how long the contract might last but £1999 down plus £240 a year (for how long) might not be a good deal.

It sounds like twelve years, Malcolm, as that is the duration of the “full boiler service and maintenance cover”. A new combination boiler replacement plus necessary plumbing alterations would probably cost around £3,000 – £4,000 with a reputable company where much easier terms are likely to available; after the initial guarantee period you could then choose your own service and maintenance contract from a range of options and alternative suppliers.

Thanks John. I’m not thinking of applying for it. Just wondered what kind of a deal it was. I would think that since essential alterations to the existing installation might not be covered this could cost considerably more than advertised. They are in the Which? Trusted Traders scheme with two poor reports out of 7. They had an ASA ruling against them a couple of years ago when the boiler then was advertised as “free” (not any longer). I just wondered what people had thought of them if they had used them. Perhaps the wrong Convo?

Malcolm – Searching for the text you have posted produces a website that provides a fake email service: “Service allows you to open access to millions of email addresses. You can use these email addresses to register on any sites.”

In view of this and what you have found, it might be worth having a word with Which?

As a matter of principle, I would not use a company that used unsolicited email or phone calls for marketing, but many do.

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Not the EST, Duncan. I did a search for the text posted by Malcolm. I’m familiar with the EST but don’t agree with all their advice.

The email, like many, comes from a third party; this one gives an Alabama address. It does list Ecovision Groups Hassle free Boilers seemingly correct address.

Malcolm – I am sorry for addressing you personally in my comments on the boiler exchange e-mail you received. That was not my intention – I was commenting to the world at large and inadvertently said ” you could then choose your own service and maintenance contract” as if I was telling you how to proceed! I never thought for one moment that you would be likely to take up such an offer from an e-mail, put presumably enough people do so to make it worth while. As you say, the consequent plumbing alterations could be quite expensive depending on what sort of system the new boiler replaced; it’s rarely a simple like-for-like exchange.

John, no need to be sorry! I often use “you” in the widest sense as well.
I get a number of emails from 3rd parties advertising goods and services for others and wonder how many of them are simply outsourced marketing and how many are scams. Not enough to cause me a problem, as I simply delete them. This one seemed legitimate, and I wonder if anyone has taken the offer up and just what the total cost was likely to be. For some, paying £39.99 a month for a new boiler, installation, servicing and repair for many years might seem attractive. I’m not sure the £19.99 a month option plus £1999 up front would be so appealing.

The Energy Saving Trust is one of those curious organisations that float about in the shadow of the government and is neither one thing nor the other. It is partly funded by the government and serves some of the government’s purposes in “promoting energy efficiency, energy conservation, and the sustainable use of energy, thereby reducing carbon dioxide emissions and helping to prevent man-made climate change”. By keeping this activity at arms length the government can distance itself from its advice or its research findings in the event that it makes a bit of a clanger. But having government backing gives the EST a degree of authority and credibility that might not always be justified and, as we can see in the e-mail that Malcolm posted from a boiler exchange outfit, the firm is suggesting without qualification that “old inefficient boilers are actually costing you as much as £47.50 each month more than they should” and attributing this claim to the EST. So far as I can see on the EST website there is no such figure quoted but in a table of comparative savings, under the worst case of an old G-rated boiler in a detached house, the EST suggests savings of around £350 a year might be achieved if replacing the existing system with an A-rated condensing boiler and new controls; the EST gives various qualifications but says that “the costs for replacing a boiler will vary, but a straightforward gas boiler replacement plus thermostatic radiator valves will typically cost about £2,300 excluding radiators”; that does not include anything for a new programmer and room thermostat, new hot water tank [if appropriate], or additional insulation [if required].

Like a number of quasi-governmental organisations the Energy Saving Trust is honest, worthy and helpful, but it is not infallible, and it is wrong for commercial organisations to quote it in a promotional way without the necessary caveats that can make a significant difference to the value of its information and advice.

Malcolm, I bet there’s something in the small print that refers to the effects of inflation on the monthly payment. I would also raise questions over the quality of the boiler and the likelihood of the company still being in business in years to come. I would expect the continuing payments to be payable to a separate [possibly, finance] company that would still have the right to collect the monthly amounts even if the installation company went out of business at which point servicing and repair could become a problem. The boiler might not be serviceable by any other reputable contractor. On the other hand, this might not be a scam after all.

EST is only looking at the positive aspects of installing a new boiler. Even if we consider only the financial aspects, the lower reliability of many modern boilers and pressurised heating systems could easily offset the projected savings. I appreciate that the EST is trying to inform but I am never happy about misrepresentation.

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Philip Hammond will be announcing new rules in The Autumn Statement next week to tackle cold calling and fraud that cost older people almost £19m in 2015.

More on this at
http://www.theguardian.com – Pension Cold Calling to be Banned After Rise in Scams.

Good news so far as it goes, because the underbelly of the pensions industry has quickly seen a source of truffles in the relaxation of the pension rules and many pensioners have been exploited. But pensioners and other vulnerable people are being exploited or tricked day-in and day-out by cold calls that part them from their money or cause them anxiety, so why can all these cold calls and e-mail scams not be outlawed whatever their purpose. I envy those people who can answer the phone in a language other than English but still make sense to their family and friends.

Would it not be better to have a ban on all cold calling?