Here’s yet another from the proverbial “You Couldn’t Make It Up” folder.
Where I now live – for some historical reason I do not yet understand – I have two separate “electricity supply” units. Don’t ask me why.
One of them is supplied by Company A and soon after we bought the property last autumn I discovered that on its unit (covering the supply to our agricultural buildings) I was being charged at a “commercial” – rather than a “residential” – rate.
The other unit – supplying the dwelling we live in – is supplied by a different company (which I shall here called “Company B”) and on this we are charged at a “residential” rate.
My first request to Company A was that, purely for greater simplicity and efficiency – we discontinued the practice of having two distinct units and switched to having just one, i.e. that with Company B. For one thing, I was neither running – nor planning to run – the agricultural buildings as a business and so didn’t want to be charged at a commercial rate for them.
I was advised this was not possible. Apparently there is some form of official National Electricity Grid of “electricity units” and – the fact was/is that – my property has been registered as having two different electricity units … and that’s that.
Having reluctantly accepted this as being the position, I then requested – and it was agreed – that in future that Company A would only charge me at a “residential” rate for its electricity supply, rather than a “commercial” one.
So far so good.
Then we move to the bizarre.
About a month ago Company A contacted me by email and offered to install a “smart meter” on its unit on my property – via this, not only would I be able to monitor (and if necessary adjust if I felt like it) the amount of electricity I was using but Company A would no longer need to require me to “take a reading” of my meter and send it in so that they could bill me the correct amount.
Instead Company A would be able to take the reading on my meter at any time it wished.
This all seemed a logical move to me and so I agreed to it.
From that point I began receiving reminders (by both text and email) of the date – as it happens, today – when engineers from Company A would be arriving at my property in order to install said “smart meter”.
Since Thursday of last week, I began receiving emails every other day – and then latterly also daily text messages – of this nature.
Then on Monday I had a call from an 0300 number (from a representative of Company A) during which I had to go through an elaborate “security check” series of queries to confirm my name, whether I was the account holder, what my email address was … etc. etc. (almost ad infinitum) before the lady would even advise why she was ringing me.
I found it quite intrusive, to be honest.
I was then told that the engineers would be arriving within a four-hour window, that they needed somewhere to park, and that she now needed to ask me other questions such as whether anyone living at the property had either had Covid in the past 7 days – or, alternatively, been in contact with anyone who had had Covid within the past seven days.
Eventually, all these issues being “satisfactorily” answered and/or agreed, she rang off.
I immediately WhatsApp’d every member of my family that might be in the vicinity today (the day of the installation visit) to update them on what was happening and when.
I even subsequently received yet another text from Company A, confirming all the details I had just discussed with their representative on the phone.
And then – that afternoon (still yesterday) – came another call from Company A: the lady announced that she was from their “Planning” department. She then began going through an exactly similar set of “security checks” in order to establish who I was etc.
I began to get irritated. “Why am I fielding all these questions? …” I asked, “Can I just point out that I had exactly the same routine with a colleague of yours only this morning …” before announcing that it was not a convenient time to call because I was out walking my dogs.
I was told again that the lady on the line was from Company A’s Planning department. She had rung me to announce that there had been a change of plan. They could now not arrive (as long planned and agreed, at their instigation) at some point this morning.
Could she now agree a new date for their visit – how would 30th of June suit me?
I had no idea, at the time being about a quarter of a mile from my office (and diary) and indeed my property.
I then duly trudged back home (with the lady hanging on the phone) and was able to confirm that – as it happened – I was free on 30th June.
So that is now when Company A’s visit is going to take place.
I cannot believe that – after (I’d estimate) at least 12 to 15 contacts of one sort or another from Company A to remind me that their engineers would be arriving today – I shall now be waiting virtually the equivalent of a whole additional month for their visit.
Good customer service – and efficiency – this sort of thing is not.