Has my plumber been unlawful or am I being unreasonable?
On the 26th of July 2020, our client made a complaint to us and what I believe to be very professional, the client thought otherwise, even though I believe I tried to give a resolution by going above and beyond. To understand more about the complaint and how professional we acted, please read the full story. Please note, I've taken out anything that I believe could effect our customers privacy.
Abusive customer threatens negative reviews
- Official Complaint made
- EPHG Limited Response
- Consent Given From The Client To Forward The Complaint To The Contractor
- Response From The Contractor
- Manufactures Instructions State: Connection To Boilers
- Email From The Client After The Responce From The Contractor
- From EPHG
- Reply From Client
- Email To Client
- Reply From Client
- Reply From EPHG Limited
- Email From Client
- Conclusion And Of The Opinion Of EPHG Limited
On Tuesday the 14th at about 21:20 a client of EPHG Limited called due to water leaking from the right hand side of the boiler that reqiured an emergency engineer to make a visit, so EPHG gave the client an emergency service in organising an emergency gas engineer to visit the property.
The client agreed to the service being that the engineer will come to the property, try to fix the issue and if the problem couldn't be fixed given a reasonable explaination, at least to try and make safe.
Unknown to EPHG apart from the engineer who attended, the engineer was at the property for over two hours and decided to cap the time at two hours when he was told to stop by the customer.
The contractor Andrew had written on the invoice 'Leak on C/H pipe from boiler (flow), repair not possible due to pipework holding water, advice putting in drain point to remove remaining water, customer has engineer booked in for repair' with time starting at 23:03 and finishing at 01:14 early hours of the morning of which the customer had signed the invoice below this statement agreeing.
Unknown to the complaint officer of EPHG until the 29th July 2020 at about 13:54, the GDPR officer was made aware of the comunication between the staff member and the client with images of the communication being made.
The communication between the staff member who takes the calls and the client who didn't seem to be happy about the service on the 17th July which was 3 days after the booking was that the client wasn't happy with the service due to what the contractor did. The staff member replied after speaking to the client to make contact with the complaint officer.
The first official complaint came into the complaint office about two weeks after the service was made and an investiagtion began.
Official Complaint made
Unfortunately I feel I have to make a complaint about an emergency callout that we used your companies services for on Tuesday 14th July. The fault we called the engineer out for was a leaking central heating pipe close to the boiler. The engineer arrived and started work at 23:03pm. He did not manage to fix the problem. He did not drain the water out of the system, and repeatedly tried to solder the hole in the pipe for 2 hours until my husband told him to stop. As pleasant as he was, it was clear he was going to keep trying the same thing for a lot longer to no avail.
I appreciate an emergency callout is going to be expensive, but for the amount of money we had to part with I would definitely expect the problem to be resolved. This was not the case, this went on until 01:15am. The house was reeking with the smell of burnt solder and wood and smoke, bearing in mind we had *Removed comment for privacy*. The burnt wood smell was from the boarding around the pipe that was overheated from the torch. By the time my husband had cleaned up all the mess in the kitchen, it was 02:00pm *Removed comment for privacy*. It was an awful experience to be honest. We feel like we have been taken advantage of with the hourly rate and an incompetent engineer.
The engineer told my husband that there was no drain off point on the system. The engineer we called out the next day said he could not believe that your engineer had even attempted to solder a central heating pipe with water still in the system as it would never have worked. He also pointed out to my husband 2 different drain off points on the bottom of the boiler. It is a Vaillant boiler and apparently all of them have drain off points on the bottom of them. So for your qualified engineer to say there was no drain off point is baffling. The engineer who fixed the problem completed the job in 40 minutes. He cut the section of faulty pipe away, and use a piece of plastic pipe with push fit connectors without the need for any soldering, filled the system back up and bled the radiators. This leads me to believe it was just to make money. Obviously we need to make you aware of this and hope you will agree that we should be entitled to a reimbursement for paying for a service that was far from acceptable by any trading standards. I have attached a copy of the engineers timesheet/report.
The call out fee was £99 plus VAT (£118.80) and then we paid out an another £198 for 2 hours labour. I am sure if you had paid out £316.80 for someone to fix a leak in a pin hole on a central heating pipe, you would expect to get the problem resolved there and then without having to call out another plumber the next day.
EPHG Limited Response
I’m sorry for your situation almost a couple of weeks ago and I would like to make an investigation regarding this matter.
Can I ask for your permission/consent to forward this complaint over to the contractor to be able to help me investigate the complaint you have made unless you are just letting me know of his work.
Please note at this point: if you are entitled to compensation, we can ask the contractor to make a refund or if you’re not entitled to a refund, we may be able to offer a gesture of good will. Please also let us know what you are looking for.
You’re welcome to give me a call direct on 07730247247 quoting the case reference number above and discuss any matters over the phone or ask for a phone call at your convenience as long as the timing is reasonable
If at all you would like for an opinion on the engineer and the work, you’re also welcome to this.
Consent Given From The Client To Forward The Complaint To The Contractor
Please find above photo evidence.
I would like to point out also that the drain off points are below the pipe that has been replaced if that was the engineers argument.
Full refund required please, consent given to pass information of complaint.
Response From The Contractor
Good afternoon Martin, I’m sorry to hear a customer is unhappy with some work I have done for them.
I will try to address the individual points as best I can.
Firstly the drain off mentioned on the boiler will only drain the water to that level. As you can see by the pictures the customer has take, the pipework is actually lower than the boiler.
However the larger problem with draining the system down was due to the customer not wanting me to go upstairs due to there child being asleep in bed.
This causes issues as you cannot fully drain a heating system quickly without opening vents upstairs as the remains of the water trickle downwards, as in this case to where I was trying to work on.
This prevented me from getting all the water out the system quickly, as the pipework must be free of water to solder.
The next issue which is arguably a larger issue is your “repair” you’ve had done.
You may or may not be aware the fitting of the two speed-fit fittings are against MI’s
I have acquired a screenshot of the relevant vaillant document for your reference.
This, along with me getting 99% of the water out gives you an explanation as to why his repair was enacted so quickly.
On top of the above points the customer told me to cease working due to the time of night and that he was happy I had stopped the leak as he already had someone booked in the next day to carry out a repair.
If the customer had told me upon entering the property that they simply wanted me to get as much water out as possible, as they have someone attending the following day, then I could have done this within the hour. But the customer was happy for me to attempt a fix despite the limitations mentioned above.
Hope this helps, please don’t hesitate to contact me should you require any further information
Manufactures Instructions State: Connection To Boilers
Speedfit pipe should never be connected to the boiler
Although most modern boilers have a high level thermostat, residual heat can be conducted by the heat exchanger. Therefore, speedfit recommends a minimum of 1 meter from the boiler casing should be run in copper pipe unless otherwise stated in the boiler manufactures installation literature.
Email From The Client After The Responce From The Contractor
I am so dissaponited with the service as a whole I cannot express how much.
Yes we did have an engineer booked for the following day, that was the earliest he could get to us being busy. We called you the "emergency plumbers" as the leak got worse and it was out of hours. We hoped Andrew would of fixed the problem, thats why we asked him to, obvioulsy? We wanted it fixing, why would we want to wait? Would of cancelled the other engineer is the problem had been resolved.
His response does not answer why he did not just replace the pipe?
Under the Consumers Rights Act 2015 we are entitled to receive a service of a good and safe standard, we did not. Andrew himself said in his response that you can't solder with water in the pipe so why did he attempt that? Why not just replace the pipe? Why attempt to solder over and over again knowing it could not work? Wasting everyone's time. Filling the house with toxic smoke in the middle of the night obviously not safe either.
Also the Consumers Rights Act 2015 also states we have the right to have the job done in a reasonable and satisfactory time, again this was not the case, quite the opposite.
My husband asked Andrew to stop because what he was doing was not fixing anything and had gone on so long was then into early hours of the morning, almost into another hours pay.
The fact that we are very dissatisfied and have not received two of the basic rights under the Consumers Rights Act, for a service, leads me to my third point, we are entiltilled to pay a discounted amount, as we have already paid that would be in the form of a refund. As we see it the call out fee is not refundable but the labour costs are, as the job was done to a unsatisfactory level.
We will ensure all work been done is to a safe standard as is our perogative. Still not sure why you feel the need to go into the repair, we are not complaining about his work.
You seem to forget we are the customers and the customer service we have recieved so far has left much to be desired, hopefully this will inpove with your next response.
Andrew is clutching at straws saying the pipe work ifs lower than the drain off pipe it isn't you can see that fro the pictures, maybe he should of measured that.
I’m not sure why you’re disappointed because I believe what the engineer did in your property is what could possibly be done at that time. By reading the contractors defence and reading your claim I have to come to a conclusion of what I see.
What I can see is:
You called us up and agreed to our terms being that we will try to get an engineer to you as you had a bad leak coming from near the boiler. We understand you wanted the issue fixed, however, our agreement was that we will get the engineer to come out and try to fix the issue and where a fix is not possible, then the problem would be made safe.
The contractor would've liked to of fixed the issue, however, his work was compromised for the reason he wasn’t given full access to the above rooms where he could open all necessary valves to make sure the system was fully drained before cutting the pipework either in the room where the boiler is or the room above.
At the end of the job, a person signed Andrews invoice and accepted the amount with no disagreement. If there was any disagreement, then I’m sure you would've let us know you wasn’t happy at the time or queried it much sooner with the contractor.
Andrews couldn’t replace the pipe because he couldn’t drain the system fully which is clear and wouldn’t do what the other engineer had done because that would make his work unlawful.
Your comment 'Under the Consumers Rights Act 2015 we are entitled to receive a service of a good and safe standard, we did not.’ I would have to disagree with this because believe that the service given was good and was done in a safe standard unless evidence shows otherwise. The work given the scope that you wanted couldn’t be given because the work you expected was outside the scope of what was reasonable.
Your comment 'Andrew himself said in his response that you can't solder with water in the pipe so why did he attempt that?’. I’m sure Andrew would know he can’t solder pipe with water in it but what I would assume he did was try to solder the pipe in the hope there was hardly any water and wouldn’t see what is trickling down the pipe. (If you want a clearer answer directly from Andrew on this, you are welcome to ask me to ask him).
Your comment 'Filling the house with toxic smoke in the middle of the night obviously not safe either.’ I can ask Andrew to elaborate on this because I’m not sure if this was done safely or not and only Andrew can answer this. At this point, I can only assume he worked safely and there may be a certain smell to the gas torch or from the copper which couldn’t be helped and would've been part of the job.
Your comment 'Also the Consumers Rights Act 2015 also states we have the right to have the job done in a reasonable and satisfactory time, again this was not the case, quite the opposite.’ Given the scope of the job, no clear indication of what you expected has been given and from what I can see, it is likely the engineer did his best to try and get the issue fixed and nobody would've likely done the job quicker or better.
Your comment 'The fact that we are very dissatisfied and have not received two of the basic rights under the Consumers Rights Act, for a service, leads me to my third point, we are entiltilled to pay a discounted amount, as we have already paid that would be in the form of a refund. As we see it the call out fee is not refundable but the labour costs are, as the job was done to a unsatisfactory level.’ In your comment, you use the word ‘fact’ which means 'a thing that is known or proved to be true.’ There is no ‘fact’ from your statement as at this point is just a matter of an opinion.
Your comment 'We will ensure all work been done is to a safe standard as is our perogative. Still not sure why you feel the need to go into the repair, we are not complaining about his work.’ - The contractor has every right to comment on the other engineers work because you have used it in your defence against him.
What I could ask the contractor is a break down of his time scale on each part of the job but I do assume he would have a good explanation for this. Given your statement that you felt strongly that you wanted nothing less than the issue to be fixed at this time, I can see that Andrew may have continued until you or your partner said stop and you was happy for the contractor to go past the hour. For this reason, I also believe that there may be a slight possibility that the issue could of been fixed as Andrew was working against the unknown being how much water was behind the pipe.
As far as I can see, no wrong has been done from our company and no wrong has been done from the contractor unless evidence provided shows otherwise.
I’m sorry that the statement above may not be what you want to hear and we are a company that tries our hardest to please our clients but what we can’t do is state entitlements on behalf of our clients if we don’t have enough evidence against the contractor as this could put our company in jeopardy of a legal battle against the contractor, however, what we are able to do is offer a gesture of good will from what you have paid our company (Not the contractor) subject to further terms and conditions and at this point, I can’t say fairer than that.
I hope you understand my position in this and I hope you take great consideration.
Reply From Client
You keep stating that Andrew could not access upstairs to drain the system, he never once asked to go upstairs to drain anything, not once. In order to fix the issue we would of granted him access 100% he never asked to do that.
Also if it were myself at the point of payment I would not have paid him a penny for his work as he did not provide the service I paid for. He chose to solder rather than replace, not satisfactorily or safe. My husband paid him unfortunately to get him out because he was upset with how long this pointless scenario had gone on for, did not want to pay for another hour for nothing. In reflection he said he wished he would not of paid him anything.
My comments regarding the Consumers Rights Act are correct, the word fact was used as a matter of fact in that I am not satisfied the job we paid for was carried out to a good standard or safe with all the fumes. It is proven as it was not fixed and took hours.
He did not even ask to open a window or come and tell us that there were going to be considerable fumes. Once I smelt the smoke and fumes I went in and opened the window, the kitchen was full of smoke and the fumes had travelled upstairs. I can tell you the smell did not leave for days.
We did complain quite quickly to the number we booked him on, your company. As we booked him through you it seems we should complain to you not him. We were offered to ring him directly but refused as this would of just been an argument clearly, to my surprise it seems this is the same with you, again customer service seems somewhat lacking. All that seems to be happening is that you are going above and beyond to try prove me wrong, I am a customer who has been left completely unsatisfied with the service. All points are proven on my part as you keep saying, evidence, the evidence is clear he tried to continually solder a pipe with water in. No excuse, never asked to gain upstairs access once. He never even mentioned to replace a pipe.
In all honestly I can't believe he charged that money knowing he had not provided a good service.
As this seems to be going absolutely no where in the respect of being refunded from Andrew for his "labour" then we will have to except your refund for your part in the service. We will then leave the matter there, as to be honest this whole experience has been tedious.
Email To Client
Andrews previous statement 'However the larger problem with draining the system down was due to the customer not wanting me to go upstairs due to there child being asleep in bed.‘.
Your defence ’Didn't defend this action on previous email’ This means I have to consider your response to Andrews acusation.
Your statement just now 'You keep stating that Andrew could not access upstairs to drain the system, he never once asked to go upstairs to drain anything, not once. In order to fix the issue we would've granted him access 100% he never asked to do that.’. If this was ever the case, a complaint should've been made immediately and according to citizens advice, you would've been entitled to ask Andrew to come back, but this never happened. (Please note: the consumers rights does advice to request advice from the citizens advice guide).
As a defence wasn’t given in your previous email, I have to act on what I see and it seems that you now want to add to the defence.
Your comment 'We did complain quite quickly to the number we booked him on, your company.’ Was this in writing or verbally and who did you speak to so I can investigate this matter on?
Your comment 'My comments regarding the Consumers Rights Act are correct, the word fact was used as a matter of fact in that I am not satisfied the job we paid for was carried out to a good standard or safe with all the fumes. It is proven as it was not fixed and took hours.’ I’m sorry, I have to disagree on this because I don’t have enough evidence.
Your comment 'again customer service seems somewhat lacking.’ I have listened to your side and I’ve acted profession and not said anything wrong and there is no evidence to say I have been lacking any customer skills.
Your comment 'All that seems to be happening is that you are going above and beyond to try prove me wrong, I am a customer who has been left completely unsatisfied with the service’ We have a litigation to withstand and protect, our defence has to take into consideration or the contractor and our client which is not in excess of above and beyond. The only thing we have been trying to go above and beyond in the interest of our client is by offering a gesture of good will.
Before we go into any discussion of a gesture of good will, we have to defend our actions, however, if you just want to discuss about the gesture of good will, we can move forward from this point. You're still welcome to call me and have a nice chat about it, because you get to agree the amount before moving forward to agreeing to a gesture of good will in writing, therefore, I can specify what we agreed too verbally and if you agree in writing, we can move forward to a resolution and the case being closed.
Reply From Client
You keep referring to my complaint as defense? Your wording in inaccurate as I the the complainant. I do Not have to defend anything that is totally in your corner as I'm Andrews. Yes this is true I did not mention the fact and it is Fact, Andrew did not ask for permission to go upstairs at any point, reason being it Andrew is now stating or you are saying for him that he would of fixed the problem if it were not this limitation. It was not a limitation at all.
We complained in completely appropriate time. Immediate complaint is not required, under 3 weeks is the normal required time for such complaint we actually have up to 5 years to complain under citizens advice for warranty of work provided. On the first telephone to complain we rang 07341247247, *Staff members name hidden for privacy reasons*. Andrew coming back to fix it was not given as an option, and if it had been an option I would of declined having not been satisfied with previous work, discounted price would of been my chosen option.
Stop trying to pick holes where there are none. this is why I stated your customer service skills are lacking. This has now become a tennis match for he said she said, very unprofessional.
The way in which you are writing and choosing your words is extremely condescending and unprofessional for customer services.
I have absolutely no desire to speak to you on the phone and be nice. That's my limitation.
At this point we just want the refund, will except amount of £99+ vat if that's what we can get. Its not a good will gesture at all we are entiltiled to a discounted price as a cusumer not getting what they paid for. Not interested in another long winded reply, either refund us or not, I will be making reviews for your services.
Reply From EPHG Limited
Because there is so much to disagree on, I will have to disagree to the whole email you have just sent me.
Your not entitled to a refund from EPHG, you also don’t want a long winded reply assuming you don’t want us to defend ourselves so I guess I will have to leave it at that.
I’m sorry we couldn’t resolve this matter.
Email From Client
Don't want a long winded reply because you can't defend yourselves, your just rambling on trying to make excuses, trying to find loop holes for the actions of your engineer and your service. Its terrible and others should know to stay clear from your service.
I will be writing truthful negative reviews that reflect my own experience, which is my right. I will also be contacting trading standards. As is my perogative too.
I was under no illusion I would get a satisfactory response from yourself, your good will gesture ha, well you can kindly shove that where the sun doesn't shine.
Don't contact me again.... That is it writing so hope you understand it.
Conclusion And Of The Opinion Of EPHG Limited
We believe that the correspondants back and forth was of a professional service from the work done and the way that the complaint was dealt with to the point our client getting abusive in the last email. To conclude a case, we have to take what the contractor has to say and what the client has to say. We then have to take into consideration of how many imputations are made which generally goes in the favour of the person telling the most truth.