The Daily Telegraph

British Gas cover ‘worthless’ as customers left without heating or hot water for a month

- By Tom Haynes personal finance reporter

BRITISH Gas customers have been left without heat or hot water for more than a month, despite being covered by the company’s flagship insurance policy.

The provider’s Homecare service promises to promptly fix boilers and heating and covers three million households. But a 40 per cent spike in demand in December, when temperatur­es plummeted to -7C (-19F) degrees, left customers unable to secure a visit from an engineer and some are still waiting for boilers to be fixed.

Yetunde Momolafe, 42, said her boiler broke down in the run-up to Christmas amid sub-zero temperatur­es.

The London-based lawyer qualifies as a vulnerable customer as her 10-yearold son has a respirator­y condition.

However, she said that British Gas has yet to fix her boiler despite several engineers attending the property.

She said: “It’s been a month with no heating and now I have no hot water. ”

Alison Coates, 50, said she still has not heard from the firm six weeks after a boiler breakdown caused water to “pour through the ceiling” of her home in the middle of the cold snap.

The Preston-based teacher also qualifies as a priority customer as her husband, James, 51, has multiple sclerosis.

Ms Coates said communicat­ions broke down with British Gas and she then had to book a local engineer, who came straight away. However, customers who book third-party services void future cover with Homecare. She said: “We rang British Gas and they said it would be a five-hour wait on the phone.”

Alexander Stafford, Conservati­ve MP for Rother Valley in South Yorkshire and a member of the energy select committee, said it was “scandalous” that customers have been left without a working boiler for weeks.

He added: “It is completely unacceptab­le that there is no guaranteed timescale for an engineer, which makes these policies not worth the paper they are written on.”

Calls are now mounting for tougher rules to be imposed on insurance providers. James Daley, of consumer group Fairer Finance, said: “British Gas is giving people the illusion of security when actually they’d be better off not having the product at all.”

A spokesman for British Gas said 99.1 per cent of vulnerable customers were seen within 24 hours of a breakdown.

Money: Page 1

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom