Streetwise saves the day in insurance saga

David Sheils.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142866-1)
David Sheils.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142866-1)
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With the evenings drawing in thoughts are rapidly turning to flashing up the boiler and switching on the heating.

Readers like 80-year-old David Shiels of Fareham have peace of mind knowing that they’re insured against any unexpected breakdown that would leave them cold.

But this year insuring his boiler hasn’t all been plain sailing.

David has long been satisfied with the breakdown cover by British Gas, but that didn’t count for anything when last March his wife answered a phone call from a very pleasant lady who said the boiler annual insurance was up for renewal.

The call happened to coincide with the British Gas renewal, so it seemed there was nothing amiss, and it was just a courtesy reminder.

As David usually deals with all the bills he was also pleasantly surprised when he was told the annual cover would be £119.99, which was a welcome price reduction on what British Gas had charged the year before.

Always having an eye for a bargain he immediately gave the caller his debit card details. He thought no more of it until to his astonishment confirmation of the transaction arrived a few days later, not from British Gas, but Surrey-based Boiler Cover Breakdown Ltd. The former House of Commons Sargent at Arms security staff official quickly realised his mistake, and immediately phoned the firm to cancel and obtain a refund.

But that only proved to be the opening shot in a six-month battle to get his money back.

Despite the paperwork saying that cover only started when a signed copy of the policy was returned to the company, David’s first phone call on March 10 fell on deaf ears. After waiting two months, he phoned the company again but still didn’t get any closer to getting the refund.

His request was acknowledged, and he was told he’d get it within a matter of days, but the promise turned out to be an empty one.

He did the same at the end of June, and by this time he was beginning to get a little frustrated.

He followed through with two further phone calls on the July 7 and August 27, but by this time an unhappy David realised he was banging his head against a brick wall.

He found the customer care to be very poor with the repeated refund promises being far more honoured in the breach than the observance.

David said: ‘Each time I was told it was being dealt with and I’d have the cheque the next day. You waited for the post and the cheque just didn’t come, so my only option was to contact Streetwise to get some action.

‘It was getting on for half a year with nothing happening and it looked as if they were hoping I’d just go away.’

Streetwise first made contact with Boiler Care’s customer services, but our enquiry was not answered. Never known to accept being ignored, we then ran a company search and traced the firm’s top bosses who quickly sat up and took notice. Shortly afterwards there was much better news for David.

Director Chris Keown told us: ‘I can confirm that Mr and Mrs Shiels have received a full refund.

‘The delay was due to an administrative oversight. We have spoken directly with them to resolve this.’

A delighted David was chuffed when the elusive refund cheque finally arrived and Streetwise obtained the result which for months he had been hoping for.

He said: ‘I don’t think I’d have got anywhere unless Streetwise got involved. It was very much a case of “don’t call us, we’ll call you”, so I’m very grateful for all your help to finally get it sorted.’