Art and design






Life and style








US news

World news

‘Loyalty to British Gas cost me £629 for a year’s cover’

An engineer working on a gas boiler
British Gas HomeCare insurance includes a once-a-year service. Photograph: Adrian Weinbrecht/Getty Images

Having recently retired, I have been taking a keener interest in my outgoings. As I went through all the paperwork, I was staggered to see that Scottish Gas (British Gas) has demanded £629 to renew my HomeCare 4 agreement which covers my boiler, central heating and plumbing.

I had been paying it by direct debit which, more than likely, made me a bit lax in checking the renewal quotes and as result it must have slowly crept up.

I asked British Gas why I was paying so much but it couldn’t give me a satisfactory explanation. It did say that prices do include expected parts and labour, which could be required throughout the annual agreement.

I cancelled the agreement but, out of curiosity, I called as a new customer and was quoted £384 for the exact same cover. Is there anything I can do to highlight this and to make people aware they need to check renewals closely? I have managed to get much cheaper cover elsewhere. EH, Aberdeen

When I first read your letter I assumed that you must have made a mistake – how could a company be charging more than £600 to insure a gas boiler and heating system, with some plumbing cover thrown in, too?

Unbelievably, having checked with British Gas, it has confirmed that the price was correct. It even had the effrontery to claim that this was a fair price “relating to the risk insured”.

This is the most preposterous case of overcharging we have seen for some time. This policy includes an annual boiler service, but you can buy a new boiler for your annual premium. The fact that the company offers new customers the same cover for £384 somewhat gives the game away.

British Gas says: “Just like many other industries, we offer introductory pricing to provide customers with the opportunity to try our products for a reduced price which is clearly communicated through all channels at the point of purchase. In common with most insurers, our renewal prices reflect the varying cost of providing cover, and renewal prices are based upon our assessment of risk on a variety of factors.”

British Gas says it has 4 million HomeCare customers, so I would urge all of them to dig out the paperwork this weekend and see if they are similarly being overcharged.

Call up, cancel, and then renew if you have to. Or take your business elsewhere. SSE does a good rival service, or, better still, find a local plumber who knows your boiler, and pay on a case-by-case basis. You don’t need electrical cover, I’ve never known anyone claim on it.

Last week Citizens Advice called on the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate the cross-cutting impact of the “loyalty penalty” paid by customers like you. Shocking.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions

This article titled "‘Loyalty to British Gas cost me £629 for a year’s cover’" was written by Miles Brignall, for The Guardian on Sunday 11 February 2018 07.00am


Freehold of 'worst leasehold abuse' block sold for £180,000

The freehold to a block of flats in Birmingham regarded as the worst example of leasehold abuse in… Read more

Poorer Britons face three years of income stagnation, says report

Britain is at risk of the first sustained rise in inequality since the late 1980s as poorer… Read more

'I don't use contactless': the woman whose name is on British banknotes

It is perhaps not entirely surprising to learn that the woman whose signature adorns Bank of… Read more

Waitrose customer left ‘horrified’ after sausage label mix-up

My partner bought what he thought were 12 Angus beef sausages from Waitrose just before Christmas… Read more

Is this the worst leasehold block in Britain?

The freehold to a 1960s block of flats near Birmingham regarded as the worst example of leasehold… Read more

Is this the beginning of the end for cash? Readers on the rise of digitised payments

What do barber shops, buses, street markets, shisha bars and grandchildren at Christmas all have in… Read more

Revealed: Cash eclipsed as Britain turns to digital payments

Britain will move beyond “peak cash” this year, according to data gathered by the Guardian that… Read more

NatWest Bank tests Cora, an AI bot that will answer customer questions

NatWest is testing an artificial intelligence-powered “digital human” called Cora that will… Read more

London posh-home lettings hit record high

Six- and seven-bedroom houses in Notting Hill and Primrose Hill were among a record number of… Read more

‘Made safe’ Hotpoint tumble dryer catches fire

We own a Hotpoint tumble dryer (bought February 2014 for £399) which was subject to the… Read more