British Gas' "plumbing superheroes" are all fur coat and no knickers

Charlie Mullins
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British Gas: The real heroes aren't its engineers, but its HR team (Source: Getty)
We’ve all seen the flash adverts on television - the ones where British Gas engineers literally fly to the rescue of their customers like plumbing superheroes, saving the world one boiler at a time. Lovely piece of television that, and a real favourite for the kids.
Who wouldn’t enjoy watching the animated characters in their jet propelled vans whizzing around the universe to get the job done? And it’s no wonder that they’re so popular with the children because they’re nothing more than fairy tales.
It seems to me that British Gas has spent loads of money on flash advertising campaigns to convince customers into thinking that they have the expertise to back up their claim.
In reality, their ‘heroes’ work in their human resource department, making countless calls around the industry in a frantic effort to hire sub-contractors to do the work for them. To me it seems clear that British Gas is all fur coat and no knickers.
To be clear, I’m not saying that it’s class that British Gas lacks, but rather transparency. British Gas are farming out its boiler servicing to non-British Gas employees… funny how they didn’t think to incorporate this reality into their flashy advert.
So how have I become privy to such knowledge of British Gas’ business model? It’s quite simple really: they rang me up and asked if we wanted to do their work for them. Of course there is a snowball's chance in hell of that happening, but I couldn’t help myself finding out what the deal was here.
In a nut shell, your monthly direct debit to British Gas gets you an engineer, who is being paid £22 to service your boiler while wearing a British Gas uniform.
Your engineer is expected to do eight-to-10 services per working day. Just to help you place this in context, we allow an hour minimum to carry out a boiler service and the going rate for a heating engineer in London is £60-£100 an hour.
You don’t need me to tell you that servicing gas equipment is a serious business and requires engineers who have time to carefully consider the task at hand. Should an engineer tell me that they were completing eight-to-10 jobs per day, that engineer would, in my opinion, be facing extremely long days, or carrying out a very short service.
I’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions here, but in my opinion British Gas should take a long hard look at their business model before other people start to see that they’re all fur coat and no knickers.

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