Monday, January 31, 2011

Utilitarian Incompetence

I'm sure everyone has these sorts of horror stories regarding utility companies, especially when moving, but that doesn't make me feel better. What makes me feel better is ranting. What makes the below worse is the fact that all of them only have 0800, or more commonly, 0845 numbers and I do not have a land line.


I chose npower because uswitch said they'd be the cheapest for us. Perhaps that should have been a warning rather than a recommendation. Our first problem was that they could not accept either of our meter serial numbers, they were apparently wrong, even though I was looking straight at them. Ironically British Gas were very helpful, despite the fact that we were leaving them. (Note that British Gas have raised my ire in the past too.)

We then received a letter from npower saying that the gas had been cancelled and that they were sorry to see us go. I called them and was told it was probably due to the confusion over the meter numbers and not to worry, the gas was going ahead. I thought I better check the electric too while I was on the phone. Oh no, I was told, the electric has been cancelled, due to them not being able to find the address, and that they would have sent a letter out. There is some paradox in there somewhere.

Unfortunately by this time the tariff that I had requested was no longer available. Not to worry, I was assured that they would connect us on Standard and move us over to Sign Online 20 once we were connected. Having heard horror stories about npower's abilities to sign you up for the most expensive tariff I asked for this to be confirmed in writing. A few days later we received a standard letter thanking me for my call and hoping that I was happy. No mention of tariffs. So I called them again and explained that I wanted it in writing. A few days later we received a standard letter thanking me for my call and hoping that I was happy. I called them again and explained the situation. After a few minutes on hold the complaints department picked up, which was a surprise as I hadn't requested the complaints department, but what the hell. I explained the situation and we now have a letter confirming the complaint, but still nothing confirming the tariff switch.


A few days after I'd moved I printed out and filled in Barclays' change of address form, including the date on which I moved. They then sent a letter to my old address saying that my signature did not match the one they have on file. Yes, they posted a letter to the address which I had just told them that I had already moved out of. It was only by chance (see below) that I discovered that the change of address had not gone through.


I was very impressed with Virgin's service in moving my connection, we only had a matter of hours downtime. My first bill came and all seemed well. But then the second bill came. It should have been £25, but was £80. Eventually it transpired that they somehow had the wrong account number, despite the fact that they'd been charging the same account for the previous 12 months. They had then charged me extra for their inconvenience. I was assured I would have been sent a letter informing me of this. Happily it was rectified quite quickly and they refunded the extra charges made.

UPDATE: Virgin now seem to be doing a 30meg service for less than I am paying for the 20meg service! What's more, new customers are offered free installation, whereas I would have to pay £30 for the upgrade!


Why oh why do 0800 numbers not get included in my monthly minutes? If only I'd known about 0800 Buster a month ago.

British Gas

British Gas have managed to charge me twice for the same, final bill. Not a small amount either.

TV Licensing

When we moved in we found a lot of unopened mail from TV Licensing. We didn't have a TV so I rang them and spoke to a very helpful guy who promised that we wouldn't receive any more mail from them. He was wrong. Not only did we continue to receive their demands and threats, but they got worse. I really object to being spoken to as if my guilt is assumed until I prove my innocence. In fact they weren't even giving us that chance, many of the letters included a leaflet that "might be helpful to you in court." Having got a TV we bought a TV Licence and continue to receive demands to a slightly different address. I am not going to bother replying if they cannot be bothered to check their records, hopefully they will go to the expense of sending someone round.

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