Sunday, 27 January 2013

Why not buy Vaillant boilers, ecoTEC included

Further to my previous post about our boiler troubles with the Vaillant ecoTEC 624, which you can read here, our boiler finally was fixed by Vaillant on Wednesday 23rd January 2013. The verdict? Faulty. Brand new but faulty. So, how can our experience help you answer the question: why not buy Vaillant boilers, ecoTEC included?

a) Vaillant may have a brilliant reputation but, as we have found out, there have been changes in the company in the past few months this means that their boilers are not the reliable machines they once were. Until a few months ago, every single boiler manufactured went through quality control, now it's 1 in every 5. Incidents of Vaillant boilers catching fire seem to have become quite common (look at this). Not forgetting this (link removed as out of date) in the Which? website, read the comments please.

b) Their customer service is BAD (with capital letters). The installer is so absolutely shocked he just can't bring himself to recommend Vaillant to any other customers. He has been loyal to the brand for years and installed plenty of their boilers, not anymore. It has also become apparent that there is a two-tier engineer service, those installers who are told about it and pay lots of extra money (I'm guessing a year) can get Vaillant's engineers to come out faster. The rest have to hope that their clietns don't freeze in the meantime. You, the customer, have no choice over this by the way. It's not a matter of looking after the elderly and being a company with corporate social responsibility for them.

Let me ellaborate:

1) Two hours after installation and connection on Tuesday 15th January 2013, our brand new boiler (the one that was meant to give us peace of mind) stopped working, it came back to life for a few hours, then it was back to electric heaters for another week.

2) Our plumber gave up on trying to revive it after observing it for hours, unfortunately Vaillant's helpline closes at 5.30pm (why?) so he made sure he called at 8.30 on the dot the next morning (Friday) and cleared his day, this meant cancelling his client appointments for the day, because he was sure he could get an engineer to come out that very same day. By this time the guy had already spent over the number of hours allocated to a new boiler installation trying to work out what was wrong with the boiler manufactured by the brand he so supported.

3) Vaillant told him at 8.30am that Friday that they couldn't send anyone until Monday (this was in the middle of the January 2013 cold snap, snow was covering our unheated house). On Monday we were to expect a phone call between 8 and 9 am. At 9.30 am the call was finally received. He was to be here between 2 and 6 pm. At 6.30pm he was finally knocking at the door, so was our installer for that matter who wanted to be present.

4) The engineer didn't carry the necessary parts in the van (despite us telling the helpline all the fault numbers on Friday). He had to leave us without heating until Wednesday.

5) The engineer arrived early on Wednesday, unannounced, and after a while and replacing a few parts got it working.

I keep checking on the boiler now, making sure that it is still working. Now, this is what we had with our old boiler, this is why we decided not to chuck any more money at the old boiler and replace it when it broke this last time. We needed peace of mind. We chose Vaillant because everyone recommended Vaillant. Vaillant as a company has changed, reliability is a joke both when talking about the units they produce and the client service (or rather lack thereof) they provide.

The boiler installer is out of pocket, we are out of pocket: my work, our electricity bill, all out of whack. Vaillant has offered no apologies and we are still waiting for:

- a reply to the complaint I sent via their website on Sunday 20th January
- a call from the manager of the Vaillant engineer to my husband's phone number as requested on Wednesday 23rd January

I leave you with the following, we have not as yet received an apology from Vaillant, which leaves you no doubt that no kind of compensation for our time, the installer's time, our high electricity bill or an extended guarantee for a boiler that came faulty from the factory, don't even think of a refund to unhappy clients who are considering digging further into their pockets to get a different brand of boiler in the hope of better customer service should anything happen again.

I shall point this post out to Vaillant and ask them to treat it as an open complaint since the other one didn't work. But I won't hold my breath that they will contact my husband or me or even our plumber for an apology (which is owed to the three of us).

In summary, think twice before buying Vaillant. But perhaps Vaillant will change their ways? Perhaps this experience we've had to go through will mean that anyone else forking over £1,000 for their units will get proper customer service. Call me na├»ve but if this snowy cold adventure of ours means they rethink their non-strategy, then I'll be slightly happier.

Anyway, how are you all dear readers? I know some of you have been in touch to say you've had boiler troubles too, mainly frozen pipes apparently, I do hope you're all sorted, the UK snow has gone for now.
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