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An Old Fool in Spain

Day to day ramblings of an old fool living in a tiny mountain village in Andalucia.

Two Old Fools and the Gas Scam
15 May 2014 @ 12:05

Spring has arrived here in Spain. The birds are frantically nest-building, bright green leaves are unfurling and the sky is clear and blue.
Unfortunately, just one dark cloud hovered above us this month. I'll tell the story here in the hopes that fellow expats avoid being caught in the same way.

It began with a polite knock on the door. Joe answered it and found two smiling men in uniform waiting on the doorstep.

"Good morning," said the one with the clipboard, "we are sorry for disturbing you, we've come to check your gas fittings."

"Really? I don't think we've ever had them checked before," said Joe, suspicious.

"It's just routine. Please check our IDs."

Joe checked them and took note of their company. Everything seemed in order so he let them in.

We only use gas for the hob in the kitchen and the men peered into the cupboard housing the gas bottle.

"Your tube and fittings need replacing," said one. "It won't take long."

They spread out their tools and set to work. The date on our tube was stamped 2009 and they replaced that and the fitting with new ones. Then they tightened the clips attaching the tube to the cooker.

The gas men were a pleasant, friendly pair. One sat on the floor doing the manual stuff, while the other filled in all the relevant forms at our kitchen table. There was a great deal of paperwork. An hour later the job was done.

"Finished," said the worker. "I've checked that it's all safe. That'll be good for five years now."

"If you would sign here, please," said the other man, "and here, and here."

"Everything seems to be in triplicate," said Joe, scribbling his signature over and over again.

"Yes," agreed the gas man, taking a calculator out of his briefcase and tapping away. "A lot of paperwork. The final bill is..."

Joe and I exchanged glances.

"It comes to 350 euros," he said.

Joe and I stared at him.

"What?" said Joe, mouth hanging open.

"We don't have that sort of money in the house," I said.

The man looked apologetic. "Don't worry, we have a card reader with us." He produced one from his bag.

Reluctantly, we paid, received our receipts plus a cardboard folder of tips about bottled gas maintenance, then saw the men to the door.

"I think we've just been mugged," I said. "I'm going to check all this paperwork on the Internet.

The company turned out to be perfectly legal, as was the service they provided. Apparently, they were just one of a host of companies who will knock on doors to check your gas. For a price.

Expat forums are full of advice on the subject, warning that these unsolicited companies will charge a fortune and may replace stuff that probably doesn't need replacing.

Too late. We silly old fools had fallen for it and our bank balance was relieved of 350 euros.

Be warned, don't let it happen to you.



Like 1




6 Comments


costabravarent said:
17 May 2014 @ 07:55

The biggest problem is that you have missed the real point. Gas is dangerous especially bottled gas. You are legally obliged to have regular inspections. It should cost you about 80 euros. If your tube was 2009 they did you a big favour even if they ripped you off. But the question is, were they professional? Did they fit it right? An inspection includes air vents, do you have the correct air vents. If you have bottled gas the vent has to be just above the floor. If it's natural gas it has to be high up. If your gas water heater (you don't have one) is drawing air from the inside not externally you need to have a vent to let air into your kitchen.
So, I would say that you should look for you local official agent of Repsol Butano and ask them to check it. Under the circumstances they may do it free.


kathym said:
17 May 2014 @ 16:54

The big gas companies, Repsol and Cepsa, always make an appointment in advance to check gas fittings. I had experience of two very pushy men once who tried to make out that I was legally obliged to let them in to check the fittings. Fortunately, I knew about the scam and refused them entry.


Victoria Twead said:
17 May 2014 @ 17:07

Thank you, Costabravarent, you are quite right, it needed renewing. Rest assured, we have learnt from this experience, and we will make appointments in future, as Kathym says. :)


costabravarent said:
17 May 2014 @ 17:29

One thing I should have mentioned. I have had two near-misses with the flexible rubber tubes. A modern four-burner hob is not such a problem but I have been caught twice with a stand-alone cooker with oven. If you let the rubber hose go behind the cooker the heat of the oven melts the rubber. It tends to happen if you leave too much length on the hose. You think it's good for hauling the cooker out to clean behind but when you push it back you forget to pull the slack back through. In both cases it was noticed. It doesn't bear thinking about what could have happened. Luckily we do also have the required ventilation.
Anyway the moral is: if you have a full cooker fueled by butano make sure the hose isn't hiding behind.
Scams like Victoria described make people wary of all visiting technicians but it is necessary to have a bonafide check done.


Victoria Twead said:
17 May 2014 @ 18:23

Excellent advice, thanks! :)


Nels said:
18 May 2014 @ 17:58

Please can anyone advise on requirements for PROPANO gas installation, Bottles to be outside, appliance to be indoors.
Thank you.


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