Today we’re in Sevenoaks, UK.
This one is an interesting story, in essence our customer needed a new boiler, their existing one was leaking badly, but contractually it is more complex.
They chose one of the new breed of internet based suppliers, where a quote is given after filling out some internet questions with the help of pictures and tick boxes. If this is acceptable, a deposit is taken, the job is booked and you can (apparently) sit back in the comfort of knowing all is well.
The internet based company they chose had all the right credentials, including peer reviews, and blobs and stars from various Trader Recommendation websites, and Gas Safe Registration.
The reality was that some, but not all of the parts were delivered, and the installation technician never showed up.
When we were contacted, after which time the part delivery had been languishing on site for a month, we did things the old fashioned way. This meant I had to get into my van and have a look, then return to base, write a quote and email it.
To be honest, I would very much like to have a website that could do all this for me. I’ve had a couple of companies approach us this year who say they could set up just such an automated system for us. I could sit in the office, pay for Google advertising, and watch the jobs roll in. Trouble is, these app designers are not heating engineers, tradesmen or surveyors. I know that accepting jobs sight unseen would lead to disasters occurring daily.
So, to cut a long story short, we came, surveyed, priced, and completed the job – a nice Worcester Bosch 25i Boiler with a 10yr manufacturer warranty. We powerflushed, magnacleansed. We had a 10 mile journey home.
If the installer had turned up from the internet based firm, he would have typically been a subcontractor, who would have left his house in the North East of UK at 4am, driven for 4hrs across motorways to Sevenoaks, and been in a rush to get home again.
His demeanour would have not been helped by the fact that he would be paid a pittance by comparison to my team.
Furthermore, I have heard from a number of customers that many internet boiler fitting companies are not at all interested in the annual servicing of their boilers further down the line. There simply isn’t the margins there to arrange it via third parties.
So there you have it. If you want to rent a film, or buy a book or a TV, the internet may be worth using. If you want someone to specify the right boiler, do all the right checks, spend the time on system preparation, and follow it up with aftersales, best deal with a bricks and mortar firm nearby.
We don’t earn our living from web fulfillment; we earn it working in residential and commercial premises, carrying out design and installation.
A footnote to this story is that the internet nationwide boiler installation specialist concerned (I’m afraid I can’t name them due to fear of litigation) are being very difficult about returning the customer advance payment, and have also broken many promises to collect their equipment from site.
Hopefully by the time you read this, these outstanding issues will have been resolved, as we found our customer very reasonable and pleasant to deal with.