Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Council's recommendations on gas inspections

(Press release) Jimena Council will soon be putting up a bando municipal (official announcement, usually put up in bars and other public spots in Spanish - The Translation People have done the work for you, see below) about your rights and obligations regarding your gas installations. Also, the Local Police have lately detected a rise in false inspections, about which JimenaPulse has warned extensively (example: Gas scam - again!). However, the police say that some of the personnel presently touring the town do belong to an authorized gas installer. Nevertheless, the Council is offering further advice:>
Which companies should I choose to carry out the check?

Choose the companies that:
  1. Are legally authorized by the Junta de Andalucía with a registration number (número de registro) and employ authorized installers (instalador autorizado).
  2. Prior to carrying out any work, are prepared to offer a written estimate (presupuesto escrito) that allows you to accept it or not. This estimate should clearly indicate the materials or parts to be used (materiales and/or piezas) and labour costs (mano de obra), as well as travel expenses (desplazamiento) if applicable.
  3. Make available a tariff (tarifa) for parts and labour costs, and any other specific services.
  4. Make available official complaint forms (hoja de reclamaciones).
  5. It is advisable that the company you choose be signatories to the Consumer Arbitration System (Sistema Arbitral de Consumo) and that their documents and advertising contain the system's logo. Being a signatory to the system is a guarantee to the consumer should a claim or complaint be necessary.

Advice to take into account:

  • Do not allow anyone into your home to carry out any work unless you have specifically requested it.
  • Always ask for proof that the installer and the company are authorized by the Junta de Andalucía.
  • It is obligatory to receive a written estimate detailing materials and work to be carried out. You may accept it or reject it without any objections, but take the time to read it, including the small print. The consumer has the right -and it is advisable to do so- to compare prices with other companies, which can vary widely among them.
  • Never sign a bill or any other document if you have not received and accepted a written estimate.
  • Large well-known companies also send letters or people to your door to offer to check your gas installation. Clients are not obliged to accept this service nor to allow their representatives into their homes. Should a check be accepted, they are obliged to show their accreditation (see 1. above) before carrying out any work.
  • At the end of the check, any authorized installer must give you an accredited certificate of the work carried out, as well as a maintenance contract. If any parts have been replaced, the consumer has the right to keep them, which could be useful should there be a complaint.
  • If you, or the owner of the installation does not meet the obligation of maintaining the installation in a proper state or does not send in the certificate after five years, the supplier can deny gas supply.
  • The orange tubes do not need changing if they are not defective, but they have an expiratin date that is printed on the tube. They are easy to change: both the tubing, which must be approved (homologado) and the clips are available at an ironmonger (ferretería) or authorized distributor, but can vary in price from one to the other.
  • Neither the regulator valve (regulador or, colloquially, alcachofa - also easily changed) nor the clips have an expiration date but if they are rusted or no longer they must be changed, in which case the authorized installer should say so, so that the owner can accept their replacement or not.
  • Always ask for a written estimate, read it and understand it completely; accept it or reject  it before anyone touches the installation.
  • And of course, ask for a bill, which does not need signing. Payment is sufficient.

Prospero notes:
  • As unemployment surges, there will be an increasing number of illegal or unauthorized people taking a chance. They usually target the elderly and the foreigners, knowing that reading and understanding the documents and papers they proffer are unlikely to be fully understood. They sometimes wear uniforms similar to those of authorized companies and drive vans likewise.
  • Firmly requesting the documents described above often results in them driving away quickly.
  • You do need to have your maintenance certificate up to date, particularly if you ever have to make an insurance claim, but especially for your own protection.
  • Personally, if I had to use the services of anyone, I would use the distributor of the gas I use. In Jimena, there are only two such distributors (orange -Repsol Butano- or silver - Cepsa- canisters, or bombonas) and either can issue a maintenance certificate. I change the regulator valve about every five years even if it seems in perfect order. The tubes and clips, get changed just before the former's date has expired. None of these three items are expensive.

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