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Some things never change

One of every senior’s bug-bears in life is wresting with 21st Century “modern technology” and means of communication.

I hate buying stuff online.

Last week I ordered three items via Amazon in the same transaction and, after doing so, discovered that somehow in one case I’d bought a different model to the one I had intended and in another, when it came to it, de facto the item wasn’t going to arrive by the date/time I intended and so I decided to cancel it.

The whole episode took over two hours of my precious time.

How much different might things have once been.

I refer, of course, to the olden days when I would have been obliged to go to a high street shop and buy them in person with help from a shop assistant!

Yesterday – perhaps inevitably – I had unsatisfactory dealings with a utility company.

Several email alerts had arrived advising me that 31st March was the deadline if I wished to switch my tariff. To be frank, I didn’t know I was on a tariff, let alone what it was – or indeed what alternative (cheaper) options might be – so the obvious route was to call the utility and ask for some advice.

This I did.

My first attempt to speak to a human being took me into a prolonged automated system which left me hanging on for an operative to attend to my call whilst being played musak which alternated and every two minutes with a recorded voice interrupting to intone “We are receiving many calls at the moment and someone will be with you shortly …”.

I continued working at my computer for nearly thirteen minutes before the phone call “clicked” and then ended without any input from me.

I then tried activating the utility’s online “chat” facility. This asked me to tap in my name, which I did.

After another eight minutes someone typed “Hello, [name] here. What is your issue?”. I tapped in that I wanted advice on choosing the best/cheapest rate. Six minutes later I added the inquiry “Is anybody there?” and got no reply.

I then decided to call again and go through the automated system whilst hanging on to see if my “online chat” made any progress.

Eventually a lady came to the phone. She told me that my best/cheaper rate than my current one was something called the “Standard Variable”. I agreed to switch to it and she then began the process of making the switch by reading me the “small print”.

I interrupted to protest at the point where she told me that the charges for my new rate would amount to £24,000 per annum.

£24,000 per annum?! I quickly worked out that this wasn’t cheaper than my current rate, it was actually 5.47 times greater than it!

I wound down the conversation and asked if she could please confirm her offer in writing by email, which she agreed to do – and did. It wasn’t a typo error or other glitch. The offer was confirmed as stated above.

I am now contemplating my next move which may or may not involve writing to the chairman of the company and the industry’s regulatory authority, plus a one-off offer to the BBC News department to purchase the exclusive worldwide rights to a ten minute interview with me to be played out live on the 6.00pm BBC One News.






About William Byford

A partner in an international firm of loss adjusters, William is a keen blogger and member of the internet community. More Posts