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Overcharged for new boiler installation?

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scotview
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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#218905

Postby scotview » May 2nd, 2019, 10:39 am

We have recently had a quote from Scottish Gas for installing a new boiler, pipework modifications, magnetic filter and power flush. Fixed cost £2700. The boiler is being installed next week.

We have a boiler and central heating maintenance contract with Scottish Gas for £35/month. We have used the service and heating faults are usually fixed within 24 hours.

Ths purchase of the boiler is on a 0% loan for 24 months. The boiler is on a 5 year warranty.

The interesting thing is that for the first 12 months after installation our maintenance contract for boiler and central heating will be free. Thereafter for 4 years our maintenance contract will only be £14/month, since the boiler will be in full warranty.

Incidentally, we have recently put in 4 new zone valves and our gas usage seems to have reduced (mild winter). Scottish Gas will maintain the 4 motorised valves within the maintenance contract.

I think Scottish Gas service and costs has been very good.

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#220760

Postby bruncher » May 10th, 2019, 9:15 pm

I'd still be grateful to hear from anyone who has a legal opinion about our situation of being quoted a price for the job, then told - after the job was well underway - that there will be further significant charges.

The boiler manufacturer referred me to their guarantee doc and installation doc which specifies the checks on heating system water quality, and the flushing required, and which chemicals are permitted. It seems to quash the idea that the heating engineer would not have known that a flush would be required after replacing a corroded 25 year old boiler.

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#220821

Postby GoSeigen » May 11th, 2019, 9:38 am

bruncher wrote:I'd still be grateful to hear from anyone who has a legal opinion about our situation of being quoted a price for the job, then told - after the job was well underway - that there will be further significant charges.

The boiler manufacturer referred me to their guarantee doc and installation doc which specifies the checks on heating system water quality, and the flushing required, and which chemicals are permitted. It seems to quash the idea that the heating engineer would not have known that a flush would be required after replacing a corroded 25 year old boiler.


bruncher, the simple legal answer is if you agreed to the charges you have taken on the liability to pay them.

The fuller answer is that you have additional legal rights as a consumer, but unless you share the full details of your case we have no way of advising you. I think you have two alternatives:

1. Post copies of all contracts you signed (suitably redacted) and paperwork you received along with the date you received them, plus the dates you accepted any offers and then posters here can advise knowledgeably. You have presumably supplied all of this to you lawyer already so should not be difficult to do.
2. Look up the relevant legislation yourself. In particular find out about your "right to cancel". It is quite involved and a lot depends on the details of your case so I won't even attempt to summarise your rights. You will either have to do the work studying it yourself, or post your info as per point 1 above.

Personally I would not pay a penny more until you have resolved what you are going to do. I would also get cracking on one of the above and when you know what you are doing write a stern letter to the company. I, like others, suspect you have been fiddled. I take it you didn't bother to get a second quote? That would have vastly reduced the risk and this is a BIG expenditure!

You're not the first person to have done this though. I have lost large amounts through imprudent and impulsive action, I tried to use them as a practical lesson for the future. Sometimes I have been lucky too and recently have used the Right to Cancel legislation to good effect on a couple of occasions. In both I got 100% of my money back, so depending on your precise circumstances you may have hope.


GS

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221012

Postby bruncher » May 12th, 2019, 6:13 am

Thank you GS, your attention much appreciated.

I'm focused on the second quote, and how the law might regard this - being asked for a further 50% after the initial quote was accepted as the price for the job. At the point when I was asked for the further 50% the job was incomplete and I would not have found anyone to pick up someone else's incomplete job.

Extortion?

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221013

Postby GoSeigen » May 12th, 2019, 6:55 am

bruncher wrote:Thank you GS, your attention much appreciated.

I'm focused on the second quote, and how the law might regard this - being asked for a further 50% after the initial quote was accepted as the price for the job. At the point when I was asked for the further 50% the job was incomplete and I would not have found anyone to pick up someone else's incomplete job.

Extortion?


Did you read up about the Right to Cancel? I'm afraid simply repeating your question is not going to help us to answer it. Your right to cancel is extremely powerful but dependent on several details of what happened as you entered your agreements with the trader, including where the contract was formed, what information you were given and so on. So as I said you have the choice to do the work yourself or give us ALL the details from which a proper assessment can be made. Or ask your solicitor to specifically look into your consumer rights in the case, particularly the Right to Cancel.

I have just served a Right to Cancel notice against a trader and will let you know how it goes...


GS

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221067

Postby bruncher » May 12th, 2019, 2:07 pm

I don't see how a right to cancel can apply to work already done and paid for? I think the deadlines have been missed anyway.

Here is a heavily redacted version of the original paperwork which is a weird hybrid of (1)an invoice for a call-out and (2) record of recommended remedial actions and (3) record of 50% payment in advance.

I hadn't noticed before that the sheet states "do not make payment unless the work is completely satisfactory"

Work description:
Attended to numerous heating faults within system. Found both boiler and cylinder in very poor condition throughout and in need of replacing. Systematically went through different options available to customer and agreed on replacing boiler cylinder cold water storage tanks and fully upgrading throughout.
Materials used:

Recommendations:
Remove old boiler cylinder and water tanks. Supply and Fit Vaillant 630 flue Filter for extended 10 year warranty. Megaflo in-direct 250 litre. Upgrade heating controls throughout. £9 640 +. VAT.
I have only charged 1 hour visit as gesture of good
will as 50% deposit of £5784 has been taken for further works commencing Monday 25th
We are unable to fully guarantee this work. See Recommendations.

Do not make payment unless the work is completely satisfactory & the following are correct:
Times and Hours worked (Times can be verified by vehicle tracking systems).
Labour has a full breakdown (see Rates Schedules): -
Material costs (shown) & Material collection charges approved (see Company Policy):
Breaks have not been charged no unnecessary mobile phone usage & no wasted time.


This looks like a quote that I should expect to rely on for the whole job.

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221138

Postby GoSeigen » May 12th, 2019, 8:56 pm

bruncher wrote:I don't see how a right to cancel can apply to work already done and paid for? I think the deadlines have been missed anyway.

Here is a heavily redacted version of the original paperwork which is a weird hybrid of (1)an invoice for a call-out and (2) record of recommended remedial actions and (3) record of 50% payment in advance.

I hadn't noticed before that the sheet states "do not make payment unless the work is completely satisfactory"

Work description:
Attended to numerous heating faults within system. Found both boiler and cylinder in very poor condition throughout and in need of replacing. Systematically went through different options available to customer and agreed on replacing boiler cylinder cold water storage tanks and fully upgrading throughout.
Materials used:

Recommendations:
Remove old boiler cylinder and water tanks. Supply and Fit Vaillant 630 flue Filter for extended 10 year warranty. Megaflo in-direct 250 litre. Upgrade heating controls throughout. £9 640 +. VAT.
I have only charged 1 hour visit as gesture of good
will as 50% deposit of £5784 has been taken for further works commencing Monday 25th
We are unable to fully guarantee this work. See Recommendations.

Do not make payment unless the work is completely satisfactory & the following are correct:
Times and Hours worked (Times can be verified by vehicle tracking systems).
Labour has a full breakdown (see Rates Schedules): -
Material costs (shown) & Material collection charges approved (see Company Policy):
Breaks have not been charged no unnecessary mobile phone usage & no wasted time.

This looks like a quote that I should expect to rely on for the whole job.


Is that it? Is that the only paperwork you received? You got nothing for the initial work? Where were you when you agreed with them to do the work? At your home? In their office? On the phone? Did you sign anything? I think if there is nothing else to add you need to explicitly say so, but that sounds VERY strange to me. Who would let someone into their house to do a load of work and pay them on the basis of the above scrap of paper only? I asked for a complete history, that includes what you agreed with each other in person and on the phone with dates, from beginning to end. I personally make it a habit so start taking notes the moment I suspect any problem might arise with a business partner so that I have a reasonable contemporaneous history of what transpired. If you haven't done this, perhaps sit down now and write down everything you remember from the transaction. We're talking a lot of money here, it's worth making a bit of effort.


You are wrong about right to cancel. [Very simplistically] You may cancel any time up to 14 days after entering the contract even if work has been done. But if for example it's a distance contract and you have not been informed of your right to cancel the time limit may be extended up to a year. Normally a trader can make deductions for work already done at cancellation but they can lose that right in certain circumstances. As I said this legislation is very powerful and bad news for businesses which play loose with the rules.

If it applies to your situation it would be MUCH easier to use this Consumer law than attempt to pin an extortion accusation on the business having agreed to let them do the work. Besides, the intent of the legislation is to prevent exactly the type of pressure you faced and the loss you fear you have suffered. Use it if you can!

GS

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221153

Postby GoSeigen » May 12th, 2019, 9:50 pm

Bruncher,

Having looked through your posts again, the amounts charged seem extraordinary to me and the work done in excessive haste.

The first question with regard to Right to Cancel is probably: did you specifically request a visit from the trader for the purpose of carrying out urgent repairs or maintenance? This is an exclusion to your right to cancel found in Regulation 28(1)e of The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. I can't tell from your first post whether the problems you wanted them to fix might have been regarded as urgent. Did you tell them you needed the work urgently done? Or did they pressure you into doing the work quickly once they had come to look at non-urgent faults?

If the system was not working and you were cold and the entire work was needed to correct the urgent fault then you'd certainly have no claim. But if there was just an annoying but non-urgent fault, or if only part of the work fixed the urgent problem but the remainder of the work was incidental and non-urgent then it may be worth looking further to see if they behaved properly.

GS

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221173

Postby bruncher » May 13th, 2019, 1:55 am

I accept it was my fault to accept a high quote and I take responsibility for that, but to be hit with a second bill is what I find unacceptable.

I had previously two good experiences with the same company for different jobs.

The solicitor assigned to me by my home insurance legal cover says there's a "letter of advice" on its way to me.

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221249

Postby GoSeigen » May 13th, 2019, 11:09 am

bruncher wrote:I accept it was my fault to accept a high quote and I take responsibility for that, but to be hit with a second bill is what I find unacceptable.


bruncher, I'm trying to help here. WHY do you think it was your fault? e.g. if you accepted the job in your own home having been told the installation was dodgy you would have been under some pressure and felt there was not time to get alternative quotes. This is not all "your fault": it is a psychological reality that the law is there to protect you from. The law imposes certain responsibilities on the trader to stop them taking advantage of the discomfort and pressure that you feel. What I am trying to prise out is: what were the entire circumstances and did the trader meet his obligations?

This is the last time I will ask. Of course you are entirely at liberty not to supply any of this information; if you don't I'll take it as an indication you are happy to get on alone.

Best of luck with the dispute.


GS

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221678

Postby bruncher » May 15th, 2019, 2:20 am

GoSeigen wrote:
bruncher wrote:I accept it was my fault to accept a high quote and I take responsibility for that, but to be hit with a second bill is what I find unacceptable.


bruncher, I'm trying to help here. WHY do you think it was your fault? e.g. if you accepted the job in your own home having been told the installation was dodgy you would have been under some pressure and felt there was not time to get alternative quotes. This is not all "your fault": it is a psychological reality that the law is there to protect you from. The law imposes certain responsibilities on the trader to stop them taking advantage of the discomfort and pressure that you feel. What I am trying to prise out is: what were the entire circumstances and did the trader meet his obligations?

This is the last time I will ask. Of course you are entirely at liberty not to supply any of this information; if you don't I'll take it as an indication you are happy to get on alone.

Best of luck with the dispute.
GS


I do appreciate your help, but I am not sure what else to add.

Our heating and hot water system had faults e.g. 3 amp fuses kept blowing near the heating control box, and the motorised valve made a bang when switching from heating to hot water. We'd had three plumbers look at various aspect of the system over the previous three years.

In march, after replacing a second fuse in 24 hours I thought it was time to get professional help. I called XYZ Plumbers who had done two jobs previously (one plumbing and one roofing) and they had been expensive but had shown up on time and done what had been agreed.

The heating engineer on this occasion, came out on Friday afternoon, condemned the boiler, and gave a quote for a new system - boiler, tank, quite a bit of new pipe work, but we kept the radiators.

I thought the quote was high but under pressure - and on the basis of previous experience with the company - I accepted. And the work commenced the following Monday scheduled for three days (two men). On the third day, we were told that further work was required:

Work description:
Boiler and Cylinder Installation.
Drained down and removed existing boiler cylinder and all associated heating elements
no longer required. Supplied and fitted Vaillant EcoTec 630 and Megaflo 250 litre in-direct unvented cylinder removing tanks in loft and converting system to sealed. Installed Vaillant filter for extended 10 year guarantee. Spirotech RV2 air separator additional 18 litre expansion vessel 2 x Honeywell 2 port valves filling loop to re-pressurise system and demonstrated how to use. Re-wired all heating elements into new wiring centre incorporating exsisitng programmer and wireless thermostat
(not covered by guarantee). Flue terminal guard fitted. Refilled system fully vented and commissioned both appliances completing Benchmark for both.
Materials used:

Recommendations:
We do not guarantee against system pressure loss. I.e F22 any faults relating to this please re-pressurise system via filling loop beside boiler as shown during installation.
As discussed to fully powerflush system and magnaclense due to amount
of magantite in system supply and fit 13 x TRVS and lockshields. Install Aquabion to cold water main £4 425 + VAT.
No
existing parts on system which have not been fitted by us during installation are covered by guarantee. Annual boiler and
Unvenetd cylinder service required to maintain manufacture extended warranty.
 We are unable to fully guarantee this work. See Recommendations.


The invoicing is odd - the original invoice is for a call-out charge and the quote is contained in the 'recommendations' section. Similarly this second invoice is both for the work done as 'recommended' in the first invoice, and the further charges are for further 'recommendations'.

At this point, I felt we were not going to find another company to pick up a half-completed job, and I felt I had a gun to my head.

Interesting that this second invoice incorrectly claims "commissioned both appliances completing Benchmark for both" since the required flush had not at that time been done.

Sorry the extracted information may be less comprehensible than the full documents, but I don't think I should identify the company at this point.

Yes, I do feel foolish and humiliated, and unprotected.

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221700

Postby GoSeigen » May 15th, 2019, 9:01 am

bruncher wrote:
GoSeigen wrote:
bruncher wrote:I accept it was my fault to accept a high quote and I take responsibility for that, but to be hit with a second bill is what I find unacceptable.


bruncher, I'm trying to help here. WHY do you think it was your fault? e.g. if you accepted the job in your own home having been told the installation was dodgy you would have been under some pressure and felt there was not time to get alternative quotes. This is not all "your fault": it is a psychological reality that the law is there to protect you from. The law imposes certain responsibilities on the trader to stop them taking advantage of the discomfort and pressure that you feel. What I am trying to prise out is: what were the entire circumstances and did the trader meet his obligations?

This is the last time I will ask. Of course you are entirely at liberty not to supply any of this information; if you don't I'll take it as an indication you are happy to get on alone.

Best of luck with the dispute.
GS


I do appreciate your help, but I am not sure what else to add.

Our heating and hot water system had faults e.g. 3 amp fuses kept blowing near the heating control box, and the motorised valve made a bang when switching from heating to hot water. We'd had three plumbers look at various aspect of the system over the previous three years.
[... detailed history...]
Yes, I do feel foolish and humiliated, and unprotected.


Thank you bruncher, that's very helpful. I'll run through what I now understand the full history to be. Please reply to this post and verify, complete and/or correct each of the italicised parts which I am unsure of:

1. On dd March 2019 you telephoned XYZ Plumbers and asked them to inspect and fix some problems with the boiler. You did not indicate it was urgent.
2. An engineer ("E1") attended on Friday 22 March 2019, inspected the system and made a verbal offer for replacing the boiler and altering the system at a cost of about £10,000. You accepted while engineer E1 was at your home and agreed they would start work on Monday. You did not receive any paperwork at all on this visit.
3. On dd March you received by hand/post a first invoice dated dd March for £9640+VAT. Labour was quoted at approx £6,500 for hh hours in total.
4. Nowhere on any paperwork received before the work started was there any mention of a right to cancel the contract or cooling down period. [Please check this statement carefully, referring to the paperwork]
5. From Mon 25 March until Wed 27 March engineer E1 and another engineer E2, attended your home and did the work. On Wed 27 March at your home engineer E1 informed you that further work costing about £5000 would be needed. Under pressure you agreed immediately. You received no additional paperwork at this time.
6. On dd March you received by hand/post a second invoice dated XX March for £4425+VAT. Labour was charged at £x,xxx in total.
7. On Thu 28 Mar engineers E1 and E2 attended and completed the work listed in the second invoice.
8. Nowhere on any paperwork received after the first invoice was there any mention of a right to cancel the contract or cooling down period. [Please also check this statement carefully, referring to the paperwork]
9. You made payments in three installments: a deposit of £5784 on dd March; a further £5784 on dd March and £4225+VAT on dd March, each paid for by credit card/bank transfer/cheque.
10. On dd April you complained to XYZ Plumbers that the boiler had stopped working. On dd Apr engineer E1 attended and said a further approx. £600 of work would be required. [Bruncher, please summarise the outcome of this work with dates and also details incl. dates etc of all additional issues raised with the company after the work was done and their response.]
11. On dd April you instructed a solicitor]. You are waiting for his advice.
12. You have £x,xxx of bills outstanding to XYZ Plumbers which you have refused to pay. [Are they pushing you for payment?]



Hopefully that is the full story. Add anything significant which is missing.

Also please re-read Dod's messages. Good quote comparisons up there too. Have you had a second quote for exactly the same work as XYZ did for a house your size from another, reputable company? You may have to offer a small sum for them to quote (£50?) for comparison purposes only, as of course they will not be doing the actual work, but I agree with Dod that it will either put your mind at rest as to the costs, or conversely give you extra leverage in trying to recover some of your money.

It's evident to me that you were put under pressure of time and the physical presence of the salesman. You may interpret it as buyer's remorse, but the legal reality is XYZ Plumbers were required to give you clear written information on your right to cancel i.e. a cooling off period, and ask you explicitly to waive that right in order for them to proceed on the Monday [a company is NOT permitted to supply a contracted service during the cooling off period]. If that was not the procedure followed it seems to me the XYZ Plumbers might have forfeited a lot of their rights under the Consumer Contracts Act and put you in a strong position. You may even have be entitled to cancellation of the entire contract and your money back, though the company might defend this vigorously!

However, please be patient, bide your time (there is no rush) and amend the above history for us so that the sequence is quite clear. And again, get a second quote!

GS

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221702

Postby GoSeigen » May 15th, 2019, 9:09 am

I don't mean to be rude, but are you of an age where unscrupulous people might think it worth "trying it on"? No need to answer, howver it might help to understand the motivations in the exchange... I worry about my mother, she tends to give way for an easy life, no energy to hustle for a better deal -- which is completely understandable but certain people take advantage....

GS

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221731

Postby bruncher » May 15th, 2019, 9:52 am

GoSeigen wrote:I don't mean to be rude, but are you of an age where unscrupulous people might think it worth "trying it on"? No need to answer, howver it might help to understand the motivations in the exchange... I worry about my mother, she tends to give way for an easy life, no energy to hustle for a better deal -- which is completely understandable but certain people take advantage....

GS


Unfortunately I think this is likely: I do qualify for various discounts and exemptions these days - free prescriptions, free local transport, free gym membership etc., but I am working (part-time). Perhaps the hard-working young man speculated that I was someone with money and no sense.

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221769

Postby bruncher » May 15th, 2019, 11:38 am

GoSeigen wrote:
Thank you bruncher, that's very helpful. I'll run through what I now understand the full history to be. Please reply to this post and verify, complete and/or correct each of the italicised parts which I am unsure of:

1. On dd March 2019 you telephoned XYZ Plumbers and asked them to inspect and fix some problems with the boiler. You did not indicate it was urgent.
2. An engineer ("E1") attended on Friday 22 March 2019, inspected the system and made a verbal offer for replacing the boiler and altering the system at a cost of about £10,000. You accepted while engineer E1 was at your home and agreed they would start work on Monday. You did not receive any paperwork at all on this visit.
3. On dd March you received by hand/post a first invoice dated dd March for £9640+VAT. Labour was quoted at approx £6,500 for hh hours in total.
4. Nowhere on any paperwork received before the work started was there any mention of a right to cancel the contract or cooling down period. [Please check this statement carefully, referring to the paperwork]
5. From Mon 25 March until Wed 27 March engineer E1 and another engineer E2, attended your home and did the work. On Wed 27 March at your home engineer E1 informed you that further work costing about £5000 would be needed. Under pressure you agreed immediately. You received no additional paperwork at this time.
6. On dd March you received by hand/post a second invoice dated XX March for £4425+VAT. Labour was charged at £x,xxx in total.
7. On Thu 28 Mar engineers E1 and E2 attended and completed the work listed in the second invoice.
8. Nowhere on any paperwork received after the first invoice was there any mention of a right to cancel the contract or cooling down period. [Please also check this statement carefully, referring to the paperwork]
9. You made payments in three installments: a deposit of £5784 on dd March; a further £5784 on dd March and £4225+VAT on dd March, each paid for by credit card/bank transfer/cheque.
10. On dd April you complained to XYZ Plumbers that the boiler had stopped working. On dd Apr engineer E1 attended and said a further approx. £600 of work would be required. [Bruncher, please summarise the outcome of this work with dates and also details incl. dates etc of all additional issues raised with the company after the work was done and their response.]
11. On dd April you instructed a solicitor]. You are waiting for his advice.
12. You have £x,xxx of bills outstanding to XYZ Plumbers which you have refused to pay. [Are they pushing you for payment?]



Hopefully that is the full story. Add anything significant which is missing.

Also please re-read Dod's messages. Good quote comparisons up there too. Have you had a second quote for exactly the same work as XYZ did for a house your size from another, reputable company? You may have to offer a small sum for them to quote (£50?) for comparison purposes only, as of course they will not be doing the actual work, but I agree with Dod that it will either put your mind at rest as to the costs, or conversely give you extra leverage in trying to recover some of your money.

It's evident to me that you were put under pressure of time and the physical presence of the salesman. You may interpret it as buyer's remorse, but the legal reality is XYZ Plumbers were required to give you clear written information on your right to cancel i.e. a cooling off period, and ask you explicitly to waive that right in order for them to proceed on the Monday [a company is NOT permitted to supply a contracted service during the cooling off period]. If that was not the procedure followed it seems to me the XYZ Plumbers might have forfeited a lot of their rights under the Consumer Contracts Act and put you in a strong position. You may even have be entitled to cancellation of the entire contract and your money back, though the company might defend this vigorously!

However, please be patient, bide your time (there is no rush) and amend the above history for us so that the sequence is quite clear. And again, get a second quote!

GS


1. Inspect and assess/diagnose
2. All 'paperwork' is sent as attachments to email. We received an email while the engineer was still at our house on 15th March. The email says "Attached you will find your invoice for the work completed", but does not refer to the quote in the 'recommendations' section.
3. and 4. (see 2. above). Cannot see anything about right to cancel or change mind.
5. They started Monday 18th. We had already paid 50% on Friday 15th.
6. I was wrong, it was Tuesday 21st at the end of the day. We again had an invoice via email, again the email made no reference to the further quote in the 'recommendations' section which we again paid 50% in advance. Same format - nothing about cancelling or cooling off.
7. Instead of three days, they came for five days.
8. Correct.
9. We paid the call-out on a joint account debit card. The two 'quotes' were paid in four credit card payments - two persons paying 50% of each. The final work was paid with the joint account debit card.
10. They said the gas pipe from the meter needed replacing as dirt in the pipe was causing the boiler filter to generate fault codes. That work was done, then they arranged for Vaillant to come and reset everything and I think replace the filter that had objected to dirty gas. Vaillant did that (incidentally the engineer had heard about the company that did our installation and told me that they had pulled the same "sorry, further work required" second invoice on someone else in our neighbourhood. He thought it was "out of order" as the engineers knew that Vaillant would not guarantee a boiler if the system wasn't flushed.)
11. Yes, still waiting.
12. No. Everything paid.

I have looked again at the XYX website and the T's and C's

" Fixed Price Work
The total charge to you will be given as a firm cost (manifest errors exempted), inclusive of labour & materials, and will be within 10% over the equivalent total hourly rate cost. All costs are subject to VAT at the prevailing rate.
Where a written estimate has been supplied to you, the total charge outlined in the estimate should not exceed the actual time taken by more than 20%, but may be revised in the following circumstances:
If, after submission of the estimate, it is discovered that further work needs to be carried out which were not anticipated when the estimate was prepared. “

From Section on Overcharging on XYZ Plumber's website

“XYZ Plumbers will:
Make sure we present an invoice showing a comprehensive description of work, with a full breakdown of labour & materials.”


They have not complied properly itemised invoices. When I asked for this, they instead sent me receipts for the boiler, tanks, and other parts.
It seems clear that they did not have reason to raise the price of the original quote, as all 'additional work' could easily have been anticipated.

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221794

Postby GoSeigen » May 15th, 2019, 1:02 pm

bruncher wrote:[... more in-depth information ...]



Thanks Bruncher, that is all excellent. Now could you have a quick read of the article linked below and think about its application to your dealings with XYZ Plumbers. The article contains advice aimed specifically at "installers", so relevant to your type of case.

Many businesses don't have time to understand fully the legal issues affecting them or are cavalier about them until burned by their own naivete. I think your plumber might be one of these companies and your case could be one that burns them, or at least forces them to deal fairly with you. Please read the entire article and if you feel any aspect of the article shows a weakness in your position with the plumber then please let me know. However I am thinking that you will be saying to yourself "Yes they should have done that, but didn't" etc.

I ask you to do this in case there is an obvious aspect I have overlooked and also to give you an idea of what a Plumber's legal advisor might tell him to do when thinking about his customers' right to cancel.

In the meantime I shall look through the regulations again.


Here's the article:

https://www.installeronline.co.uk/29185-2/
Extract (and note the caveat about urgent repairs):
Under the regulations, technicians must also let the customer know in writing they have the right to cancel the contract within 14 days. This ‘notice of the right to cancellation’ applies whether the contract is agreed verbally or in writing. However, this doesn’t apply if the customer has ordered something to be made up to their own specification or if they have requested urgent repair or maintenance work.

So, did you spot any weaknesses in your case??

GS
(just a reminder: IANAL but familiar with the regulations)

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221810

Postby GoSeigen » May 15th, 2019, 1:45 pm

Here's an updated history. I think it's clear enough, but if you want to check and fill any more italics bits then please go ahead.

1. On dd March 2019 you telephoned XYZ Plumbers and asked them to inspect and inspect/diagnose some problems with the boiler. You did not indicate it was urgent. You paid a callout fee by debit card on xx March.
2. An engineer ("E1") attended on Friday 15 March 2019, inspected the system and made a verbal offer for replacing the boiler and altering the system at a cost of about £10,000. While engineer E1 was still present you received an email with attached document comprising (1) invoice for a call-out (2) record of recommended remedial actions and (3) record of 50% payment in advance [which you'd just paid by credit card]. This documented the terms agreed with engineer E1 and total contract cost of £9640+VAT. Labour was quoted at approx £6,500 for hh hours in total.
3.You read and accepted the emailed offer while engineer E1 was at your home and agreed they would start work on Monday. You did not receive any other paperwork at all on this visit.
4. Nowhere on any paperwork received before the work started on Monday was there any mention of a right to cancel the contract or cooling down period.
5. From Mon 18 March until Wed 20 March engineer E1 and another engineer E2, attended your home and did the work. On Tue 19 March at your home engineer E1 informed you that further work costing about £5000 would be needed.
6. Late on Tue 19 March you received by email a second invoice/quote dated 19 March for £4425+VAT. Labour was charged at £x,xxx in total. You paid 50% of this invoice on 19 March by credit card. Under pressure you agreed immediately.
7. On Thu 21 and Fri 22 Mar engineers E1 and E2 attended and completed the work listed in the second invoice.
8. Nowhere on any paperwork received after the first invoice was there any mention of a right to cancel the contract or cooling down period.
9. On dd March you complained to XYZ Plumbers that the boiler had stopped working. On dd March engineer E1 attended and said a further approx. £600 of work related to the boiler filter would be required. This was completed by XYZ Pllumbers and a Valiant engineer.
10. You have paid all invoices in full in six instalments: the call-out by debit card; a deposit of £5784 on 15 March and balance of first invoice on dd March, both by credit card;deposit of £4225+VAT on 19 March and balance of first invoice on dd March, both paid for by credit card and the payment for final approx £600 of work by debit card.
11. On dd April you instructed a solicitor. You are waiting for his advice.


-You quoted XYX website T's and C's here: https://www.lemonfool.co.uk/viewtopic.php?p=221769#p221769
-You quoted the first invoice here: https://www.lemonfool.co.uk/viewtopic.php?p=221067#p221067
-You quoted the second invoice here: https://www.lemonfool.co.uk/viewtopic.php?p=221678#p221678


What are the thoughts of other Fools on bruncher's options?

GS

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221829

Postby GoSeigen » May 15th, 2019, 2:54 pm

So this is my view of bruncher's case:

1. bruncher as a consumer called XYZ Plumbers to his home to quote for work on a faulty boiler. This was not an urgent call, or if it was in any way urgent most of the work done was incidental to the urgent repair. bruncher agreed to a contract for services with the trader while not on the trader's premises so his was an "off-premises contract" and a "service contract".

2. bruncher has stated that he felt under pressure, and having agreed despite his better instincts, now feels "foolish and humiliated, and unprotected".

3. Consumer law is supposed to protect consumers from loss in exactly this sort of high-pressure situation. Specifically the The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 provides protection in the context of having agreed to an off-premises service contract (as in bruncher's case) by:

-requiring the trader to give the customer certain written information including about Right to Cancel, listed in Schedule 2, and a cancellation form (Reg. 10)
-requiring the trader to give the customer written confirmation of the contract terms including all above required information before the provision of the service begins [and in disputes the trader has burden of proof that he has complied] (Reg. 12, 17)
-providing that failure by trader to do the above is breach of contract (Reg. 18)
-making it a summary offence not to give required information about right to cancel (Reg. 19)
-giving the consumer a Right to Cancel for any reason for a period of 14 days [Reg. 29]
-extending the cancellation period to 12 months if the consumer was not informed of his right to cancel (Reg. 31)
-requiring the trader to reimburse the customer immediately and IN FULL WITHOUT DEDUCTIONS if he has not informed the consumer of the right to cancel (Reg. 36(6))
-forbidding the start of a service during the cancellation period unless the consumer has expressly request this on a durable medium (e.g. on paper or email). (Reg. 36(1))

4. I have looked for gotchas and the main one is the exclusion of a right to cancel any requested urgent work (Reg. 28(1)e). However ISTM bruncher could easily argue that most of the work was not urgent.
[EDIT: Another one is if Bruncher agreed in writing that the work may begin on the Monday, i.e. before expiry of the 14-day cooling-off period.]


To summarise the above, I believe bruncher has access to all the rights and remedies in 3. above because XYZ Plumbers failed to inform him of his Right to Cancel under the regulations when they entered a contract with him at home. I think he would be entitled to notify the company of his decision to cancel the contract as permitted by the regulations and demand full and immediate repayment of the amounts paid. This is severe for the company but inescapable because of their failure in their obligations to provide information.

Also: as he has paid by credit card I think he could also make a Section 75 claim against his credit card company (but note, IME they like to defend these) citing the XYZ Plumbers' breach of contract and alleged offence in failing to notify of Right to Cancel.

Whether he should do this immediately I don't know. He may want to put the above to his solicitor. I think tactically it would actually be best to:
1. get a quote for the cost of equivalent work from another plumber
2. Demand the difference to be repaid by XYZ, arguing he only agreed to the contract(s) under pressure and didn't have time or opportunity to get alternative quotes. [bruncher could demand refund of the second invoice amount if that is what he disputes, but really I think the more general "difference between quotes" argument would be more effective.]
3. Leave the nuclear option of Right to Cancel in reserve, exercising it if they try to defend the claim. [ISTM the right to cancel is extremely powerful -- not sure how the company would defend it in front of a judge.]

What do other Fools think? What have I missed?

GS

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221834

Postby chas49 » May 15th, 2019, 4:21 pm

GoSeigen wrote:So this is my view of bruncher's case:

......

Whether he should do this immediately I don't know. He may want to put the above to his solicitor. I think tactically it would actually be best to:
1. get a quote for the cost of equivalent work from another plumber
2. Demand the difference to be repaid by XYZ, arguing he only agreed to the contract(s) under pressure and didn't have time or opportunity to get alternative quotes. [bruncher could demand refund of the second invoice amount if that is what he disputes, but really I think the more general "difference between quotes" argument would be more effective.]
3. Leave the nuclear option of Right to Cancel in reserve, exercising it if they try to defend the claim. [ISTM the right to cancel is extremely powerful -- not sure how the company would defend it in front of a judge.]

What do other Fools think? What have I missed?

GS


Firstly, what a great detailed analysis you have done on this case over the life of this thread! This sort of contribution is (one of) the reason(s) TLF is such a great community.

Without even attempting the amount of work you have already done, my only suggestion would be that option 3 (the Right to Cancel) should be mentioned in the demand along the following lines:

"I require repayment of £ZZZ on the basis that I was under pressure to agree to this work at a full cost of £XXXX and I was unable to obtain alternative quotes. I have now been able to do this and a reasonable charge for the work done would be £YYYY. On this basis, the difference between the quotes (£XXXX - £YYYY ) gives the figure of £ZZZ which I require to be repaid. I am prepared to accept this amount in full settlement of my claim, failing which I reserve my rights under the [insert ref to Right to Cancel legislation]. If you do not pay the claimed amount, I will issue legal proceedings in the amount of £XXXX under the [insert ref to Right to Cancel legislation]."

I think that the OP should to assert those rights now even if he is prepared to accept a lower figure, and use that as leverage.

Anyone else have a view?

chas

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Re: Overcharged for new boiler installation?

#221965

Postby AJC5001 » May 16th, 2019, 12:29 am

bruncher wrote:Our heating and hot water system had faults e.g. 3 amp fuses kept blowing near the heating control box, and the motorised valve made a bang when switching from heating to hot water. We'd had three plumbers look at various aspect of the system over the previous three years.

In march, after replacing a second fuse in 24 hours I thought it was time to get professional help. I called XYZ Plumbers who had done two jobs previously (one plumbing and one roofing) and they had been expensive but had shown up on time and done what had been agreed.

The heating engineer on this occasion, came out on Friday afternoon, condemned the boiler, and gave a quote for a new system - boiler, tank, quite a bit of new pipe work, but we kept the radiators.


Given the initial problem (3 amp fuses kept blowing near the heating control box, and the motorised valve made a bang when switching from heating to hot water) I would have expected a professional engineer to be able to say what was causing the fuse to blow. My suspicion would be a faulty motorised valve motor or something linked to it. I would not expect the 'solution' to be having the boiler condemned! Was there something else that was said that justified replacing the boiler?

(I know this is not my heating system and I don't have the need to get it working, so this comment is from a detached point of view.)

Adrian


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