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Consumer advice required – Brivis heating in Canberra

By 19 August 2008 16

My gas central heating recently developed an intermittent fault which meant it would work sometimes and then not work at all. Given the cold temperatures we are having I contacted Brivis who said the earliest I could expect someone would be in four days. Someone did turn up on friday and spent about 10 minutes in my ceiling saying he had “realigned” something and went to get his invoice book. At $175 I at least was pleased that I had reliable heating again. It lasted about 24 hours then died completely. It now has a new noise when it is switched on.

After an uncomfortable weekend, not able to be home much, I called them (suprisingly calmly) this morning and explained the situation. They then told me the earliest they could get someone out would be next Monday. I explained to them that this is Canberra, it has snowed in places and a week is far too long to wait for a technician to fix something that should have been fixed the first time. I was advised to “cross your fingers for a cancellation”.

When I asked for an assurance that there wouldn’t be a further call out charge, I was told “it depends on whether he has to fix something new”. Given that nothing was fixed the first time, and it now has more problems, it is inevitable my heater will need “something new” fixed.

I don’t think I am being unreasonable in expecting a technician to come back within a couple of days and I am not prepared to pay a further call out charge. Do any RiotACTers know of any consumer affairs legislation or other information that I can arm myself with if I call Brivis back and get antsy ? Is heating considered an “essential service” ?

Any advice would be welcome.

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16 Responses to
Consumer advice required – Brivis heating in Canberra
mad_kiwi 10:21 am
19 Aug 08
#1

I had a similar experience with Brivis, our heater- about 9 years old started backfiring, i called the brivis call centre (interstate) and arranged for a tech to have a look. they could not give an exact time just 8 – 1 or 1-5 on a particular day.
The first day they never turned up so i called and rescheduled, they came and quoted $600 for a rebuild and ordered the parts, weeks went by with no contact, so I got another gas tech out of the yellow pages to have a look, he said the burner assembly was cactus, but it should be under the warranty (10 years for the burner unit), but only brivis would be able to fix under warranty.
So another call to the brivis prople, another appointment – that they never arrived, another wasted day from work. the call centre would not give the techs contact details – only pass on a message.
so i drove to the brivis showroom in Fyshwick and the called the tech for me – he looked up the job history and installed the parts the next day, said no charge – given the run around.
Great i thought, until a debt collectors letter arrived demanding the callout fee – we never got any invoice, but after an angry letter to Brivis and the debt collectors we never heard from them again.
They make good heaters i think, but their service / warranty is a shambles, about 8 weeks without heat in winter all up.
Good luck anyway..

S4anta 10:52 am
19 Aug 08
#2

I reckon this problem has to do more with a lack of qualified tradies (people wanting to go into other professions rather than pick up the tools) rather than Brivis just having the usual lack of customer service. They are a big business and have to cover quite a large territory including the ACT and the wider economic region.

PinkysBrain 10:55 am
19 Aug 08
#3

I also had my heater break down this winter. I have a Pyrox system and it was just over 3 years old. Just out of warranty (3yrs + 1mth) and so I called someone from the Yellow pages. Turns out I needed a major part and had to go to the manufacturer for repair. We had to wait around 6 weeks before it was repaired. During this time the whole family spent all of our time at home in the one room we could heat using an old column heater I borrowed from a friend. The kids thought it was fun camping in the living room, needless to say I didn’t think it was so great.

Just a thought. If the fault is intermittent it may be that the outlet for condensed water may be blocked, if this is the case then the heater will trip as the water builds up to prevent shorting. Then as the water evaporates it will work again for a while until the condensation backs up.

Good luck and try to keep warm.

RuffnReady 3:01 pm
19 Aug 08
#4

Poor service undoubtedly, but how soft are you people? I live largely without heating – put on an extra jumper and snuggle under a blanket!

PinkysBrain 3:24 pm
19 Aug 08
#5

RuffnReady said :

Poor service undoubtedly, but how soft are you people? I live largely without heating – put on an extra jumper and snuggle under a blanket!

I don’t consider myself soft. However, after a few days (depending on the insulation of the house) of no heating the inside of a home levels off at the outside temperature. If you ever had an outside toilet, like I did growing up, you will understand how uncomfortable going to the loo can be in this situation.

Also, we have a toddler who tends to roll out of her covers. We couldn’t very well have her sleeping in a snowsuit to prevent her from freezing.

Being colder than you want is no fun at all.

jimbocool 4:04 pm
19 Aug 08
#6

@5 you should get a Gro-bag for the toddler – it’s like a sleeping bag. We have used them with our extremely wriggly boy and no matter what somnabulistic contortions he goes through he is always snug.

JC 5:03 pm
19 Aug 08
#7

When my heater was new (back in 2001) it took Brivis 5 attempts to fix it properly. Each time there was a 5 day wait and of course had to take time off work to wait for them to arrive. Luckily it was a waranty job, but still not happy jan.

In regards to the OP I sure the hell wouldn’t be paying someone a 2nd time to come out. Let them do their thing then send them on their way. To me they miss diagnosed your fault the first time, so you have paid for something you didn’t need. If they carry on take em to consumer affairs, or what ever they are called now days. Even the threat of that can make companies back down.

fabforty 6:35 pm
20 Aug 08
#8

Thanks everyone for your comments (except Ruffnready – bet your heater was working).

It seems I lucked out this time. Brivis turned up at 8.00 this morning and put in a new ignition module. $110 for the part, no attempt at a second call out fee.

So far.. so good.

kja2615 6:39 pm
07 Oct 08
#9

Our Brivis MPS was installed in June 2007 and worked fine for many years. We had it serviced every second year (Brivis’s recommendation at the time) until we had a fault with it. From that year on, it has been a bitch of a unit.

Three or four years ago, we had it serviced. Great. But then a few weeks later on a Fri night, my wife thought she heard a bang in the night. Ignored it and went back to sleep. Woke up before 8am and could smell gas. Woke me up. We looked at the Networker control and it showed fan working but errors showing. Opened the back door (heater underneath back deck) and gas spell was awful. Run around front of house and threw gas lever to off. Switched electrical mains off. Went back to heater and turned power switch off.
Went back inside and opened all doors and windows. Told wife that despite it being -5C that morning, we were not using electricity at all until the gas smell left the house.
Some weeks later, the Brivis techo could finally fit us in. Different techo from the service guy. Eventually he stopped inspecting the unit and came inside to speak to us. He attempted to yell at us about not having the unit serviced – because the gas hose was perishing (had perished, gas had leaked out, exploded, and punched a hole through heat exchanger so unburnt gas was being blown into house) and a service would have picked that up and replaced it. Showed him the sheet from the service from Brivis a few weeks earlier. He said Sorry, you have done the right thing, Brivis will pay for all the repairs. They sent us bills for those repairs – we faxed them copies of the worksheets and politely asked if they wanted to sit down with us and consumer affairs folks as mediators to work through it. They wisely did not respond and we never heard from the Brivis debt collectors again.
Since then, every year either the “low” or the “high” board fails and so we have at least 1 week each winter without central heating.

somethinglike2001@ya 10:12 pm
06 Aug 09
#10

heating is not an essential service as far as i am concerned – nor cooling – many people live in areas that are far colder or hotter – than we experience – ie England Canada and areas of the US and Europe- covered in snow – or Africa – India – humidity and heat – a lot of these homes do not have central heating nor air conditioning – ever thought of a jumper coats socks and blankets if you are that cold – or cool water and less clothing – I am sure you were not the only ones cold or hot when you call for help in the middle of a cold or perhaps hot season for heating or air con you simply have to wait your turn – it is all about adapting

somethinglike2001@ya 10:13 pm
06 Aug 09
#11

S4anta said :

I reckon this problem has to do more with a lack of qualified tradies (people wanting to go into other professions rather than pick up the tools) rather than Brivis just having the usual lack of customer service. They are a big business and have to cover quite a large territory including the ACT and the wider economic region.

Think you may be right

vg 10:46 pm
06 Aug 09
#12

somethinglike2001@yahoo.com.au said :

heating is not an essential service as far as i am concerned – nor cooling – many people live in areas that are far colder or hotter – than we experience – ie England Canada and areas of the US and Europe- covered in snow – or Africa – India – humidity and heat – a lot of these homes do not have central heating nor air conditioning – ever thought of a jumper coats socks and blankets if you are that cold – or cool water and less clothing – I am sure you were not the only ones cold or hot when you call for help in the middle of a cold or perhaps hot season for heating or air con you simply have to wait your turn – it is all about adapting

Or……something even more extreme……getting your heating fixed?

But I’ll be sure to explain your harden up advice to my 3 month old if we run with no heating all day

MW 8:36 pm
18 May 10
#13

Our Brivis gas central heating system stopped working overnight last Sat so I requested a service call with Brivis via their online booking facility (first thing on Sun 16 May 2010). On Tue 18 May 2010, mid afternoon, I received a response advising that a service has been booked and their technician is scheduled to attend on 7 July 2010. Have these people not spent a night in Canberra at this time of year????

Deano 10:33 pm
18 May 10
#14

Your lucky. Friends of ours had their Brivis heater stop working today and the best estimate for a service appointment is end of July or early August!

Its always a good idea to test fire your heater in early April to find any problems early.

shorey 1:40 pm
01 Aug 10
#15

If you need your Brivis serviced by someone who can call Steve fromTerritorry gas
0405557777 .He is reliable

shorey 1:48 pm
01 Aug 10
#16

The issuewith Brivis is that they have a Melb call centre ,no idea about canberra and how easy it is to get around this town.
They have problems finding experienced techs,because the good ones are contractors and do other work.Territory Gasfitters 0405557777,Hockings Gas services ,Rons Service all excellent.
Pyrox are a little more difficult Try Ron.

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