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Scam Watch: have you received a confusing insurance call?

A member felt duped after renewing their appliance cover. Have you received a confusing insurance call from an unexpected company?

A member was called by someone they thought was from Domestic & General (D&G) to renew their washer-dryer breakdown cover.

When the documents arrived, they saw they’d been speaking to a different business, Domestic Assure guard.

The member felt tricked, so called the company to cancel the policy and obtain a refund. But how did they get their details?

‘No data breach’

We’ve found many bad reviews for Domestic Assure Guard. Some allege it poses as D&G or claims to be linked with it. Domestic Assure Guard told us:

“It’s regrettable that the member was left unclear that Assure Guard is a different company to D&G. During every interaction, we ensure the company name and address is provided to avoid such confusion”

It didn’t answer our question on where it obtains customers’ phone numbers. D&G assured us it hasn’t suffered a data breach but told us it has heard from multiple customers regarding ‘other companies… passing off as D&G’.

It has identified specific companies involved (but didn’t name them), reported the issue to regulators and law enforcement and launched legal action. It says:

“We’ve been [explaining to customers] that we’re in no way associated with Domestic Assure Guard or any other third-party warranty companies, and that we do not provide them with customer information”

Have you ever received an insurance call from a company you didn’t expect? If you took out a policy as a result, did you go on to cancel it?

If you believe scammers have been in touch with you, tell us about it in the comments and, if you think you’ve been a victim of a scam, make sure you report it and visit our Consumer Rights advice.

D Wilson says:
12 October 2021

I have just had a call from someone claiming to be from one of these companies. He said I took out an insurance cover on my tv two years ago. I told him that I had not as my tv is 30 years old. He had my name, address, financial details of an old card and was quite aggressive. He said it was their word against mine. Cheeky sod. I have also had similar calls about my kitchen appliances. These people are menaces and purely trying to con money out of the vulnerable. DO NOT SPEAK TO THEM AND DO NOT GIVE THEM ANY FINANCIAL INFORMATION.

My wife had a call from a representative of a company apparently working for Britannic Appliance Services (020 3749 2371) telling her that the appliance care agreement on our washing machine had expired and offering her 12 months at £12 per month which he quickly reduced to £9.99 if she set up a direct debit. We had never had insurance with this company and in fact it is insured with another provider but unfortunately she wasn’t aware of this fact. She signed up, giving her details. It has taken a while to unstitch all this but the moral is – do NOT give out details to these people. They are scammers, pure and simple. Britannic apologised and tell me that the company is called Services Plans Direct but I can find no trace of it on the internet

Domestic Appliances Limited phoned to advise that my existing appliances insurance repair cover had run out and needed to be renewed. Apparently I had previously paid the premium for the now expired policy (not that I was aware of this cover, or recall making the payment).

I was advised that if I paid for 2 years cover (£495) , I would automatically get covered for an extra year, at no extra cost! The cost of this premium would be paid by Direct Debit, but I needed to supply the Bank Sorting Code and the Bank Account Number in advance of them sending me the paperwork to view – I refused to provide my Bank Account Number in advance of receiving the paperwork.
They eventually hung up when I advised that my search on the internet revealed that the company (Domestic Appliances Limited) was recorded as a scam.

Just had a call from Domestic Appliances Limited offering to renew the appliances warranty policy that has now expired. (This policy was news to me!)
Well, DAL offered to renew the policy to cover 5 appliances and it would cost £248.50, but if I opted to by cover for 2 years it would cost £495, but that cover for another year would be included without any additional cost! and I could pay for it by 3 Direct Debits, again at no extra cost!
Whilst I provided DAL with the Bank Sorting Code for my Bank Branch (easy enough to locate on the internet), I refused to provide my bank account number until I had read through the paperwork that they were to send out – this was contrary to their way of working, so they insisted that I still provided them the account number – I would not.
At this time, I searched for DAL on the internet, seeking clarification as to whether they were associated with any scams. The search did not take too long and I advised the ‘manager’ that the company was in fact known for scams. His next action did not come as too much of a surprise – he cut the call.

Glad you realised in time Joe.

Phone calls to renew domestic appliance policies are nearly always scams. The assumption that it is a renewal of an existing policy is more likely to get the scammers results than trying to sell you a new one. A genuine company would be happy to send you paperwork and allow you to check it over before entering into a contract.

You are better off saving the money towards a repair by an authorised repairer or new appliance.

Please never give any bank or credit card details to a cold caller, they are scammers 99% of the time.

One of the problems is that the regulated providers of domestic appliance cover often ask for far too much personal information before they will even present a guide price. Obviously, for an insurance product, a certain amount of detail is required in order to provide an individual quotation, but at the initial enquiry stage all that should be needed should be the first three characters in the postcode and the numbers and types of appliances to be covered. It would therefore be helpful to consumers if the legitimate industry would improve some of its practices in order to fully distance themselves from the sharks which are preying on householders.

It ought to be possible to browse official websites, with sensible names, and see a range of policy illustrations showing typical premiums for representative bundles that would meet most people’s requirements. I appreciate that, to some extent, comparison websites produce such information but some are highly selective and don’t always include good providers, and some people are averse to using such websites because of the risk of getting ‘hooked’ [as a previous customer, and therefore ripe for warm contact] in relation to other products or services.

We don’t have such cover but from occasional investigations I have made it should not be necessary to pay anything like the amounts cited by Joe for standard cover by a reputable company.

Only the last digit of our postcode differs from the houses on the other side of our dead-end short road, but we pay higher insurances than them.

They are grouped with a nearby village (not even our village), whereas we are grouped with a nearby town that is much further away and includes our village.

Alfa — In practice the postcode shouldn’t make much difference to the cost of appliance cover at a granular level. Repair costs can vary across the country but only on a fairly regional scale. The durability of the products according to manufacturer and model number are far more critical I should think. I would expect a Miele to have a lower premium than a Beko despite the likelihood that Miele spares are probably more expensive.

Domestic & General has a page that allows you to calculate the monthly payment for cover for different brands of products: https://www.sales.athome.domesticandgeneral.com/products

I compared Beko and Miele washing machines at the same price point and was given identical figures for three year old machines out of guarantee. Since Miele products tend to be more expensive to buy, you are likely to pay more in practice.

I have never regretted not paying for appliance cover yet. I could be convinced that boiler cover could be worthwhile because getting a gas engineer is a challenge in this area but I have fan heaters and an immersion heater, so for the time being I will save my money. Those dependent on combi-boilers would have no alternative for water heating.

I rank D&G as one of the reputable appliance cover companies [which is why so many fraudsters imitate their name]. There are several other good ones and some which do not present a range of typical cover bundles with indications of likely premiums until the enquirer has supplied a lot of personal information.

I am a little bit surprised at the outcome for Miele and Beko appliances since I feel that the longer durability and superior build quality of Miele products should have given them an advantage. However, if D&G have priced them equally based on their claims experience that is fair enough. I wouldn’t wish to accuse D&G of pricing on the basis of the propensity of the owners of certain makes of appliance to pay a higher premium.

Having a combination boiler we do need a reliable appliance regularly serviced and with breakdown cover. Having been let down by British Gas so many times [a hot topic in today’s papers!] I am looking for a good local maintenance provider and am working through recommendations from people we know. I might also look at Which? Trusted Traders.

The D&G price calculator seems to take no account of product quality/likely durability at a quick look. It seems solely concerned with purchase price. So checking a Bush and a Technika dishwasher with a Miele gave identical monthly costs for the same age and price. At best they are offsetting the higher cost of repairing a Miele appliance against much less likelihood of a failure. It does not seem very scientific.

I would like to see appliance manufacturers offering, for a fee, their own extended warranties with costs based on their known reliability.

You have confirmed what I have observed, Malcolm. I don’t know why breakdown recovery companies do not take into account the claims record of new customers but no doubt they have their reasons. It disadvantages owners who check their cars for developing problems rather than leaving them to annual servicing.

Sometimes manufacturers of white goods do offer ‘free’ five or ten year guarantees or extended warranties at worthwhile prices, but they can charge what they like and I particularly dislike Hotpoint products where parts are covered for ten years but labour can be extremely expensive.

Brian Smith says:
22 March 2022

I have had calls from two ‘so called’ firms dealing with household appliances so far this year – Appliance Care and Applianced Care UK – both claimed it was renewal time and that I had revewed with them last year (which I hadn’t as never heard of them before!). I put the phone down!

Hi Brian. If you have not already done so, I would encourage you to report the calling numbers to the ICO (Information Commissioners Office). If your number is registered with the Telephone Preference Service, you should also report this to the TPS. It’s relatively quick to submit reports online.

The most effective way to stop calls of this nature is by reporting the calling number to the ICO. The ICO will investigate and take action against these rogue callers.

Several of these rogue companies have suffered enforcement action by the ICO, receiving significant fines for their conduct. The ICO’s work to tackle these companies was as a result of consumers reporting the calling numbers and it remains essential that calls of this nature are reported.

Search for the ‘ICO’ online and on their website select ‘Make a Complaint’ from the navigation bar along the top of the page. Select spam texts and nuisance calls. Be sure to select ‘Sales call from a real person (live call)’ and then complete the report entering the calling number and other information as required.