When household appliances go wrong

Nan McCabe, Senior Information Worker at Age Scotland, discusses some of the common questions that the Age Scotland Helpline receives.The Helpline number is 0845 125 9732.

Person on the phone

The Age Scotland Helpline is an independent, confidential telephone based information service to people aged fifty and over living in Scotland, and to those associated with them such as their carers and families.

It receives many calls from people who are experiencing difficulties as a result of a household appliance breakdown. This could be the central heating boiler, washing machine, TV or TV aerial for example.

Apart from the inconvenience caused by the failure of the item, a significant amount of worry and distress can be experienced when trying to effect a repair, much of which can be avoided if the following points are considered:

  • When contacting a tradesman to organise a repair, always ask if estimates are free and whether there is a call out charge. It is important to agree on this aspect before you confirm you require an estimate otherwise you might be liable for a hefty fee even if it later transpires that a repair cannot be carried out.
  • If the estimate is more expensive than you had anticipated, ask the tradesman to tell you exactly what is included and then obtain at least one other estimate for comparison purposes. You may wish to obtain more than one estimate as a matter of course.
  • Costs can vary depending upon the time of your appointment. Some firms charge premium rates from 4pm on a Friday until 9am on a Monday and between 5pm and 9am during the week. Check this when you make the appointment.
  • Note that an estimate is just that and the actual cost of the repair could vary, within reason. If you require an exact note of the cost you should ask for a quotation, which should be accurate in terms of cost.
  • When sourcing a tradesman, word of mouth recommendations from trusted friends and neighbours are often the most reliable. Your household insurer may have a list of trusted tradesmen in your area.
  • Consider purchasing a maintenance contract that covers your main essential appliances such as your central heating boiler, washing machine, cooker, etc. Some of the fuel suppliers offer contracts, as do some household insurers, as well as local tradesmen. It is essential that you obtain more than one quotation and that you carefully compare what is covered within each, and that you select a contract that best suits your needs.

If you require any further information then please call the Age Scotland Helpline on 0845 125 9732.

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