Martyn Bridges, Director of Technical Communication and Product Management at Worcester Bosch, asks the question; ‘When is a warranty really a warranty?’
When buying a new product, we as consumers are overwhelmed with vast amounts of information every day. Not only do we have similar brands vying for our attention, but social media has brought a raft of independent reviews, which can result in conflicting viewpoints when researching a product.
You could say it is even more difficult when buying a new heating system. It isn’t like a new pair of shoes, or even a new appliance. There are a number of factors when considering a boiler, but one of the main selling points, both for consumer and installer, is the warranty.
A higher warranty usually corresponds to a higher quality boiler. Of course, as technology evolves, the quality of boilers increases, however warranty lengths have continued to rise substantially. A typical boiler warranty these days is between five and 10 years, however we are seeing advertisements and statements from certain manufacturers upwards of this to 12-15 years in some cases. But as the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
So, how can you as an installer ensure the warranty is genuine? And how can you educate your customers to ensure they keep their warranty valid while being aware of potential future costs?
Like any purchase, always read the terms and conditions to ensure you fully understand what the manufacturer includes in the warranty. It is also essential to urge the homeowner to check these out as well.
Things to specifically check for are what is covered. For example, whether all parts are included or only specific components. If a homeowner assumes that all components are included, then being hit with a surprise cost for a replacement part will come as an unpleasant shock.
Similarly, a homeowner could assume that a callout is a free service which is part of the warranty. However, some manufacturers ask for credit card details or a deposit before they attend a callout. The deposit being taken just in case the callout finds that the boiler isn’t the actual problem but something else on the system, this is understandable to a degree as the warranty normally covers the boiler only.
Again though, stories circulate that some manufacturers on occasions still take the deposit even if the boiler is at fault and suggest the fault with the boiler was because of some system related condition. We acknowledge that on occasions this can genuinely happen, but the end-user should be fully advised why and what remedial action needs to take place.
When Worcester Bosch receives a call about our products, we will always try to advise before visiting the house. However, if we do attend a callout, we still don’t place a charge even if it turns out the boiler wasn’t causing the issue. This isn’t necessarily the case across the board, so it is worth checking for a clause in the contract that specifically mentions deposits.
As the installer, you could also be the first port of call for a customer that is experiencing issues with their heating system. Some manufacturers will have in their terms and conditions that their warranty is on the boiler only and, should a problem occur with the boiler, the householder must first contact their installer to verify that the system isn’t at fault.
So, running that through you may mean you get a call to undertake this, but then find out that the boiler is the problem and no-one accepts liability for your time and callout for something that isn’t your doing. You could also be on the receiving end of an annoyed customer who has tried to call the manufacturer and not received the service they were expecting.
This isn’t always down to warranty however. Perhaps the system or the boiler isn’t meeting the homeowner’s expectations, or they are misinformed. For example, perhaps they have a 30kw combi boiler and wrongly believed it can run two baths at one time. Or the condensate pipe runs externally and has frozen due to cold weather. By making sure the boiler has been specified properly, and the homeowner educated correctly, then these sorts of problems can be avoided.
Finally, it is important to ensure the customer has their boiler serviced on an annual basis. Not only will this ensure the boiler is running efficiently and safely, but it will mean that the warranty continues to be valid. If a boiler doesn’t receive an annual service, avoidable issues can arise. If this is the case, then it is likely the warranty will not hold. If your customer is a landlord, then they will know this is a legal requirement, but if they are a homeowner then a gentle reminder means that they will continue to see the benefits that warranties do offer.
Overall, warranties are essential in this trade as they are peace of mind for consumers. A solid warranty means they know that if their boiler does experience an issue they won’t be left in the lurch or out of pocket. By triple-checking terms and conditions and explaining these clearly to your customer, it means you won’t receive a nasty surprise either.