Friday, May 01, 2009

On customer service

I reported a few days ago that our boiler had gone on the blink. I contacted one gas engineer chap about it and he identified the problem over the phone as being a faulty/damaged diverter valve. He made a call to the supplier and came back with a quote for £290 for the job.

Since money is tight, I thought I'd do some homework to see whether this was a reasonable quote. I phoned the supplier to get a price on the diverter valve (£112). I also made enquiries as to the usual hourly rate for gas engineers (£50-60), and the estimated length of time a job like this would take (1 hour). According to my calculations, that comes to about £170 give or take.

A friend gave me another number to try.

This man came to the house first thing this morning. He opened the diverter valve and found that, while the rest of it was fine, the rubber diaphragm was torn. Imagine trying to keep a straight face while you tell a woman there's a hole in her diaphragm!

He went off to the supplier and found that the diaphragms for this make aren't sold separately. You have to buy the complete diverter valve unit (£112, remember?). So he looked around at a few similar makes until he found one with the same-sized diaphragm, which was sold separately. This was so cheap, he didn't even charge us for it.

£53 + VAT for one hour's labour = £60.95

My husband and I immediately programmed his number into our mobile phones for future reference. I'll be happy to pass it on to local readers.

This is called looking after your customer's interests!

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