marcussteaduk

Freelance Journalist Marcus Stead

Pensioners Warned Over Boiler Insurance Scam

with 19 comments

LUCKY: Pina Morrish realised what had happened in time for the payment to be stopped

LUCKY: Pina Morrish realised what had happened in time for the payment to be stopped

ELDERLY people are being warned not to feel pressurised into giving their credit or debit card details to cold callers following a series of complaints about a company that attempts to sell them boiler insurance products they don’t need.

The company, Heat Plan Utilities, based in Surrey, calls elderly people to tell them that their boilers are out of warranty and typically tells them they need to buy ‘Silver Plus’ cover costing £119.99.

They are then told that they need to buy the product there and then, and are pressurised into giving their credit or debit card details using ‘hard sell’ techniques.

Pina Morrish, an 88-year-old widow from Cardiff, was recently contacted by the company. She said: “They called me one afternoon and frightened me into thinking I needed boiler cover.

“The man I spoke to seemed very nice and was well-spoken, but he was very insistent that I bought the cover there and then, and persuaded me to give him my debit card details.”

Mrs Morrish, who is originally from Italy and settled in Britain after marrying a Welsh soldier in 1947, soon realised something wasn’t right and phoned her daughter, retired deputy headteacher Christine De Souza, who immediately contacted her mother’s bank to stop the payment and cancel her card.

Mrs De Souza, 59, who assists her mother with financial matters, said: “I discussed the possibility of getting boiler cover with my mother some time ago, but since she has it serviced on a regular basis, we agreed it wasn’t necessary.

“My mother is still very independent for her age and makes her own decisions. It seemed very clear to me that this caller was using ‘hard sell’ techniques, because she is not easily manipulated, and was aware her boiler was in good working order following the recent service.”

The following morning, Mrs De Souza phoned Heat Plan Utilities to try and establish exactly what has happened.

She asked how exactly they had obtained her mother’s number, and was told that they got it through a survey she had completed. Mrs De Souza said it was highly unlikely her mother had filled out a survey, and was told: “If she can give card details, I’m sure she can complete a survey.”

Mrs De Souza replied that she was sure she knew her own mother a lot better than they did. Angered by his attitude, she asked to be put through to a supervisor, but he initially refused to, claiming they were merely selling insurance.

Undeterred, Mrs De Souza insisted she be put through to a supervisor, and he eventually agreed to do so. After being kept on hold listening to music for an extended period, she hung up the phone. She has since reported the company to Trading Standards and the Citizens Advice Bureau, who were both sympathetic, but didn’t believe any laws had been broken.

There are a number of near-identical stories about Heat Plan Utilities on internet forums that deal with issues relating to care of the elderly. Typically, the calls take place during daytime hours and the same price, £119.99 is quoted.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director at Age UK said: “Scams can take place on the doorstep; by phone, on the internet or through the post and the sad fact is that if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is. If you feel under pressure to commit, then just step away because any reputable company will allow you time to think an offer over.

“Anyone can be taken in by a scam so people shouldn’t be embarrassed to report a crime. If you feel you are or have been a victim speak to the police, a family member or friend.”

Matt Smith, of Heatplan Utilities, defended his company’s sales techniques. He said: “We obtain our information from surveys, and if people are well enough to give their credit card details over the phone, they are well enough to complete surveys. Our sales techniques are perfectly legal.”

Meanwhile Mrs Morrish considers herself to be one of the lucky ones. She said: “I was fortunate in that I realised I had been mis-sold the insurance very soon after the call, and there was enough time to stop the bank payment from going through.

“I’m sure there are plenty of vulnerable elderly people who weren’t so lucky, and I’d urge those who look after older people to remind them not to give their card details over the phone, or to feel pressurised into buying products they don’t need by telesales calls.”

Written by Marcus Stead

September 30, 2013 at 4:01 am

Posted in Consumer

19 Responses

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  1. Heatplan Utilities also phoned my mother and duped her into giving debit card details to take out a boiler maintenance plan she did not require.
    This firm are dispicable and need taking to task for underhand tactics with elderly people. They need naming and shaming

    paul wray

    October 23, 2013 at 10:02 pm

  2. They are still at it – they tried it on with my 89 year old father here in Watford earlier this week – fortunately he refused to provide any credit card details over the phone and was shouted at by the “gentleman” that came on the phone. I am not sure where they are getting their details – I suspect it is from one of the utility companies as my parents were covered through their energy provider until last year when they had to have a new boiler installed.
    I think I will contact the local council today as they need to be stopped.

    Colin MacDonald

    November 8, 2013 at 8:32 am

  3. I recently worked for heatplan in a call center it is all a scam when I applied for the job I didn’t realise what I was getting into the way the manager kieran spekes to us was like shit I thought it was inacent what we was doing but now I realise it wernt. The company should be reported none of the people called fills out a servey we have access to addresses and numbers with names who are called all between 10-6 saying they coverd their original warranty its all lies don’t trust them

    sam

    November 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    • Good on you for speaking up Sam. Someone should post this information on a bigger network like Facebook etc. More people need to be made aware of these Scumbags. I now have a fight on my hands to get back the £190 they took from my mothers account!!!!

      paul wray

      November 10, 2013 at 9:51 pm

  4. Feel free to spread this as far and wide as you like guys. I don’t mind about copyright etc in this instance.

    Marcus Stead

    November 10, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    • Thanks for that. Any tips on how to take this forword

      paul wray

      November 11, 2013 at 9:36 pm

  5. My advice would be to report it to Trading Standards, as even if no law has been broken, it’s good to make them aware of it. Also the BBC’s Watchdog programme may be worth a shot. I’d also write to your MP, who could press for legislation to prevent this type of thing happening in the long term.

    Marcus Stead

    November 14, 2013 at 2:12 am

  6. Thanks for the important information. This can be happen with anyone in the future.So according to me there is no need of giving the details of debit or credit card in any of the case.

    Steven

    November 25, 2013 at 8:13 am

  7. This company is still at it, They have been ringing my 80 year old mother almost every day over the last 3 weeks insisting she took out boiler cover 15 months ago and did she want to renew it, She has told them she has never had any cover with them but they continued to call her.When I contacted the company yesterday, they said she had agreed to a renewal the day before, at a time when she was not even in the house.
    When I asked to speak to a supervisor I was told no one was available and they put the phone down on me. They are obviously targeting the elderly and I will be reporting them to Trading Standards,

    Sandra Bartley

    January 24, 2014 at 7:47 am

    • Hi
      I reported them to Croydon trading standards so you should do the same so they can build a case.
      These people are scum and have no morals. I spoke to the supposed head of customer services and he was an utter joke.
      After several prommises to pay back the £190 they took from my mothers account I finally dealt with a lady who prommised to send us a cheque within seven days and to my disbelief it turned up and it cleared, I did tell them I was on the verge of filling a county court judgement against them. This firm needs stopping !!!!

      paul wray

      January 25, 2014 at 5:04 pm

  8. I think i have been a victim of a similar scam this time from Boiler Cover Breakdown Ltd, paying £119.99 on my Debit card (big mistake that!) for 15 months cover for my 10 year old oil boiler. The paperwork claims to cover gas-fired boilers and although I have received a receipt for my money I am told on a separate slip that the entry on my bank statement will name a different company, Wireless Terminal Solutions Ltd . I have emailed a rejection of the contract and asked for return of my money.

    Mary Coombs, HP14 3LU

    March 8, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    • “Boiler Cover Breakdown Ltd” are still at it 5 Jan 2015. Smart-talking salesman makes a cold call, says he has no records, hasn’t actually any idea what equipment you might have, just fishing for info all the time. Says he is new but won’t connect you to the manager. Total tele-pest

      Sam

      January 5, 2015 at 5:50 pm

  9. […] Pensioners Warned Over Boiler Insurance Scam | marcussteaduk […]

  10. October 2014 – over a year later – and one of my elderly relatives has just fallen for this scam, too. I despair. Is there really no way to stop conmen like this from continuing to extract money from vulnerable people long after numerous complaints have been made about them?

    Jennifer Henson

    October 14, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    • You can only persue it with Surrey trading standards

      Paul wray

      October 14, 2014 at 8:20 pm

  11. Just had a cold call from boiler co uk offering silver insurance against any boiler breakdown.The cover sounded comprehensive at a discounted price of£11.99 monthly .My boiler is on its very last legs so I was interested.He waffled on about radiators and type 5 boilers .As for card details I gave him the name and expiry date on the card. he wanted the issue number which he insisted was the long 16 didget number across the top of the card.This is fraud I hung up.Witheld number

    Terry

    March 2, 2015 at 1:27 pm

  12. Mysmart service – boiler service nonsense.
    Company address is:
    117 High St
    Birmingham
    B12 0JU

    As usual they target an elderly person. Offer a flimsy deal – get account details and hope to get away with it. I cannot find any reference to them on the internet, on Streetview their address appears to be some run down un-labelled property.

    Avoid them!

    Liz

    April 25, 2016 at 5:58 pm

  13. My mother aged 88 was also duped into handing over her card details despite my sister and I persistently telling her to never do so. They took £269.99 from her account which we are fighting to get back as again it was a cold all pressurising an elderly person. Heat Plan Utilities should be named and shamed!!! Legislation should be passed making all cold calling illegal.

    John Grace

    September 19, 2016 at 5:04 pm

  14. My mum was also targeted in the last week. Again the caller was very creditable and seemed to know about her existing heating. He persuaded her to pay £190 on the spot for heating insurance. Please let others know!

    Heather

    October 9, 2016 at 4:04 pm


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