Q: Companies such as British Gas will for a fixed annual fee, provide an annual maintenance of the boiler. Additionally, if there is an issue with the boiler, they will come and repair the same or replace the boiler.
Is this a permissible contract? (It should be borne in mind that if a boiler breaks down in winter especially and needs a major repair or replacement, this will be a repair bill of potentially thousands of pounds which will be required to be paid at very short notice, something most cannot afford to do.)
الجواب حامدا ومصليا ومسلما ومنه الصدق والصواب
A: There is a difference of opinion with regards to the permissibility of pure service contracts wherein an annual fee is paid for a periodic service in addition to repair should the machinery break down. Some have permitted it on the basis of need whilst others have prohibited it on the basis of the inherent uncertainty it entails. Where such a contract involves the provision of a service only and does not leave to dispute between the parties, there is an argument to allow it on the basis of need and the absence of dispute. However, when such contract involves replacement of the machinery, such as a boiler in the cover provided by British Gas, this is no longer a simple service contract but also involves payment for a guarantee. This is a form of conventional insurance and is not permitted.
As for requiring ‘potentially thousands of pounds’ for a repair bill, this appears to be much over stated.