Just a few years after buying a British Gas-recommended boiler, Which? Legal member Derrick Bradfield was told it was unsafe to use because of insufficient gas pressure. That was just one of a series of problems with the boiler he’d bought for £2,595 in January 2009. British Gas had recommended it based on an engineer’s assessment of what his house needed. But the engineer never tested the house’s gas supply pressure.
The major problems with the boiler began as early as February 2012. Derrick had taken out a service contract for the boiler with Npower and asked it to investigate. When it found the boiler unsafe to use due to the insufficient pressure, Derrick had to pay to replace parts not covered under his service agreement.
In October 2014, British Gas agreed to replace the entire gas supply pipe through the house to the boiler. This resolved the problem at first, but two months later the boiler failed again. Derrick was left without heating or hot water over Christmas.
The repeated failures caused such inconvenience that he had the boiler replaced by another company. He told British Gas this and said that he wanted it to pay the cost. However, it refused to accept liability and Derrick came to us for help.
Our lawyers advised that British Gas breached its contract under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 as it failed to use reasonable care and skill when installing the boiler, which may have not been the right size for the house and so not fit for purpose. For contracts entered into on or after 1 October 2015, these rights are under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
Where goods or services are bought on credit, depending on the type of agreement, a credit provider may be jointly liable for a breach of contract by a trader. A consumer may be able to bring an action under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 to recover their financial loss from the credit provider.
As the boiler was paid for with a loan from the company GE Money, Derrick was able to pursue it for his financial loss and in March 2015, it agreed to write off the £1,600 balance of the loan.