Recently I’ve been having trouble with my central heating. The timer would call for heat, but the boiler wouldn’t realise this, and so wouldn’t actually give me any.
I’ve had Pipeline Services out to look at it four times in the last month. Each time they “fixed” the problem, only for it to return in a few days. Once they reset everything and jiggled some things around until it started working; then they came out and properly serviced my boiler; then they rewired my thermostat; then they replaced the thermostat completely.
On Friday night it stopped working again. It’s fairly cold here at the minute; and seems even more so since I’m just back from San Diego! I spent the guts of an hour doing the reset and jiggle routine to no avail. On Saturday morning the heat didn’t come on, and the house got so cold I couldn’t type. Pipeline weren’t answering their phone, so I left several messages for my landlord to get back to me as soon as possible, and relocated for the day.
By 6pm I still hadn’t heard from my landlord so I left him a few more messages. At 10pm I eventually got hold of his brother, who said there was nothing they could do until Monday, and that if I could get someone to fix it myself I could take the costs out of my rent.
And so began my quest.
I started looking through the Plumbers section of the Yellow Pages. The first ad for a 24 hour plumber was the delightfully named “A Plumber” (“Any Emergency, Any Time, Any Job”). He lists two phone numbers, neither of which were answered, on several attempts.
So I moved on to “1A Belmont”, who despite their name don’t seem to be anywhere near me on Belmont, but rather somewhere in BT8. He helpfully informed me that they didn’t do gas boilers, that I’d need a Corgi Engineer, and that I should switch my attention to the “Gas”, “Boilers” and “Central Heating” sections of the Yellow Page.
There I discovered Spectrum Premiere Services who presented me with a quandary. On the one hand their web site was Flash based, and contained lots of spelling mistakes. On the other hand they were one of the only companies to even have a web site (other than placeholder Yell pages). They listed Belfast and Glasgow numbers so they seemed to be more than just a “one man band”, which was a promising sign. Until I tried to ring the Belfast number and discovered it didn’t work. I tried ringing their Glasgow number, hoping someone there might tell me the new Belfast number, and was connected to someone whose accent was so strong I couldn’t work out what he was saying at all. My brain eventually stopped trying to decipher it as a Scottish accent, and I realised it was a broad Norn Iron accent – somehow phone Glasgow had connected me to the mobile of their local contact! He then proceeded to tell me that they couldn’t do anything over the weekend!
Next I tried “Boiler Rapid Repair” and got an answering machine. I tried again and actually managed to speak to someone. He said he had two guys out doing jobs and he’d see if either of them could come round! Five minutes later he phoned back to apologise that both had gone home for the night, and that it would be the next morning before he could get someone out. He was quite apologetic and friendly, and suggested I try Central SVS.
So I rang their number, only to be informed by BT that it had changed (I can understand a Yellow Pages ad being out of date, but surely their own website could be fixed?) I tried the new number and got an answering phone telling me that the office was unattended and giving a number for emergency contact – if you’re a contract customer!
At this point I gave up. Every one of the numbers I rang advertised themselves as providing a 24 hour emergency service, but that obviously means something different to what I expected.
I called Boiler Rapid Repair back, arranged for them to come first thing this morning instead. They discovered that my motorised valve was faulty and was shutting off the boiler. Pipeline, in the 4 times they had come out, had never once even looked at this.
Today I have heat. Tomorrow I’ll discover what Pipeline have to say …