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Online Heat Pump Seller Prosecuted for Breaching F-Gas Regulations

Online Heat Pump Seller Prosecuted for Breaching F-Gas Regulations
05 January 2024
 

An online retailer has been fined for selling HVAC equipment without ensuring that it would be installed by a properly qualified engineer.

Appliances Direct (AD) was found to be in breach of F-Gas Regulation Article 11 paragraph 5 which seeks to ensure equipment charged with refrigerant gas is safely installed to protect the public and the environment.

 

"This is a landmark prosecution that sets a precedent for anyone trying to circumvent these important public safety regulations using online sales platforms”

–Graeme Fox

Technical Director, BESA

 

£37,500 Fine for Appliances Direct Parent Company

 

AD’s parent company Buy It Direct (BID) has been fined £37,500 following legal action taken by the Environment Agency, acting on information provided by REFCOM, the air conditioning and refrigeration industry’s largest safety register.

This revealed that AD was selling split air conditioning heat pump systems without meeting its statutory obligation to ensure the appliances would be installed by a qualified engineer - someone holding a valid F-Gas handling certificate or by an F-Gas registered contractor.

BID CEO Nick Glynne had argued in the company’s defence that purchasers “could not proceed to actual purchase without agreeing contractual terms which included installation by a relevantly qualified engineer”.

However, this was dismissed because there was “no evidence that the installation will be properly carried out”. In fact, the judgement found that 94 per cent of AD’s sales to end-users were lacking evidence indicating compliance with the regulations.

“This is a landmark prosecution that sets a precedent for anyone trying to circumvent these important public safety regulations using online sales platforms,” said Graeme Fox, Technical Director of the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) which operates the REFCOM register.

“REFCOM and its members have been raising the alarm about online sellers for several years as they represent a vulnerability in the system that can lead to equipment falling into the wrong hands. Most distributors and wholesalers are fully aware of their responsibilities and ensure they receive confirmation of safe installation before selling refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, but we remain vigilant for any that might seek to act irresponsibly for profit.”

“We will continue to work hard on behalf of the industry and its customers to ensure only properly trained, qualified and registered individuals and companies carry out this important work.”

Picture: a photograph of a computer keyboard showing a large key with a green shopping trolley on it. Image Credit: Pixabay

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 05 January 2024

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