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The Gas Man Cometh
British Gas HomeCare
Member Name: grahamt
British Gas HomeCare
Date: 01/11/09, updated on 01/12/09 (709 review reads)
Advantages: Peace of Mind ; Reliable ; Good service
Disadvantages: A bit expensive
If there's one thing in life that you can guarantee, other than Death and Taxes, it's that the day your central heating breaks down is the day the weather takes a turn for the worse - and it will be a Sunday.
When we moved into our current home some 15 years ago we decided that it would be prudent to take out insurance on the central heating system, it being to us an unknown quantity but evidently with an original boiler from when the house was built over 10 years before. We hadn't done so in our previous house as it hadn't had central heating when we bought it and one of the first things we had done was to have it installed. Consequently, it was brand-new and so shouldn't have been likely to fail. It didn't.
I must admit I didn't investigate very hard for a suitable organisation to cover us: we had both our electricity and gas from British Gas at the time and had been happy with the service they provided. Not for us any of the horror stories that were back then so much the fodder of Internet discussion.
Although British Gas offers comprehensive breakdown insurance for the services around the home, central heating, gas supplies, electricity circuitry and so on, I only felt it necessary to cover the central heating system: I feel quite confident to carry out my own electrical maintenance and plumbing and frequently do. So, I only looked at British Gas HomeCare 200, which covers the boiler, controls plus the circuitry devices such as the pump and valves.
Over the years the amount we pay per month has not changed substantially. Currently we are paying just under £18 per month, about £4 more than we were paying 15 years ago. I think that's good value for money for peace of mind. We've certainly had our money's worth over the years.
We started off needing to call in BG almost as soon as we had moved in. The initial failure was of one of the motorised valves that control the hot water and central heating circuits. An appointment was made for a time convenient to us the following day and their engineer arrived on time and within an hour had carried out the repairs. Not only that but he also carried out an inspection of the installation, even though one had already been done as part of signing up to British Gas HomeCare.
Over the next few years we had to call on the HomeCare cover many times, for repairs to the boiler, replacement of more motorised valves, several pumps and a couple of programmers. Why they should have been so unreliable I have no idea. However, other than the inconvenience of the breakdown, we had no complaints as each time BG arrived as arranged and fixed the problem with the minimum of fuss.
Subsequently we had the old boiler replaced as it was already discontinued and replacement parts for it were getting hard to source. We didn't have BG do the work but it was carried out by a local plumber who seemed to have done a good job. Whatever, suddenly we no longer seemed to get the system problems that we had previously been experiencing.
Perhaps the biggest example of BG's good service is one occasion which may, though I don't think so, have been of my own making. Part of the work I had been doing around the kitchen and utility room as part of installing a new kitchen and subsequent decorating, was to raise the level of the electrical sockets above the work surface. At the time the regulations stipulated a minimum height of 150mm, though I believe that this is no longer mandatory. However, this remains a sensible recommendation. The existing socket locations were much lower.
So, I raised the level of both the CH system isolation switch and also the programmer. Now, I'm sure I marked all the wires, there are lots of them, correctly but when I connected all the wires back to the terminals on the programmer, the boiler wouldn't work. I checked and checked again but to no avail. So, I called out BG.
One of their engineers turned up and checked out the system but couldn't find the cause of the problem. After about an hour he called out a colleague to help him. In the end we had four BG engineers on site, checking the entire system out from top to bottom and checking which wires in the airing cupboard connected with which wires in the utility room. Eventually they replaced the programmer and all of a sudden everything started working!
After that we had no more real problems for about three years, until today. This morning we woke up to a cold house, no central heating and no hot water. A glance at the boiler control panel indicated the boiler was completely dead. Now, I had been expecting this. Only after the new boiler was installed (a Potterton Suprima) did we discover from posts on the Internet that this boiler is renowned for printed circuit board (PCB) failures. Guess what had happened?
Anyway, I phoned BG at around 8.00am this (Sunday) morning and their engineer was at our house within three hours. He confirmed the problem and, ever prepared it seems, had a replacement PCB in his van. Within a hour we were back up and running again.
So, what can I say about BG HomeCare? Well, over the 15 years we've been covered by HomeCare we must have paid around two and half thousand in insurance premiums. That may sound a lot and it's fair to say that with recent reviews of our outlays I have considered dropping this cover, bearing in mind the seeming recent reliability of the system. However, today's incident has given me pause for thought. I reckon that we have had at least the value out of the insurance that we have paid out, if not more, totting up the potential cost in terms of man hours and parts replaced.
More than anything, the peace of mind from knowing that the BG engineer will be there, if not the same day then the next, is worth the cost. The alternative of your local "friendly" plumber telling you that he might be able to fit you into his very full diary in a week or two doesn't bare thinking about.
As far as I am concerned, British Gas HomeCare has delivered everything that could reasonably be expected of them and I, for one, have absolutely no complaints at all. 5 Star Performance from a 5 Star Service.
By the way, BG don't seem to be using the www.house.co.uk website any more. Entering that address into the URL in your browser actually now takes you to www.britishgas.co.uk/
Summary: Reliable and timely protection for your home services.