Thursday, 2 February 2012

David & Goliath

Yesterday I had two skirmishes with Big Business PLC.

The first was a phone call as I was driving back to the office. It was from the company* who supplied my gas and electricity for my old house. They wanted to know why I hadn't paid my final bill.

I told the very nice lady that when I'd moved out I phoned them with the meter readings and was told that final bills would be sent. Which I had yet to receive. This statement was met with some degree of suspicion, although to be fair I guess it wouldn't be the first time that day she'd heard the phrase "I ain't not seen nuffink" from a delinquent debtor.

She informed me that the bill had been sent out a week ago, I asked if it had been sent to my business address as I requested at the time, she checked, read out the name of my company (win) followed by the address of my old house, where I no longer live (fail).

I pointed this out to her and explained that I no longer have access to the house on account of no longer living there. I expected (foolishly) that she would say something along the lines of "Oops, I'm so sorry your Eminence**, that explains it all, it was our mistake. We'll post a new invoice to the correct address if you'd be so kind as to provide it."

Not a bit of it.

She told me that I must have given the operator the wrong address. Quite clearly the Law of Parsimony is not part of their training handbook. Sigh. I gave her the correct address again and told her that I would be happy to pay the bill when it arrives.

Later, The Business Partner and I were discussing the cost of our business insurance. Despite never having made a claim the renewal notice has come in several hundred pounds higher than last year.

The following works best if you think of it in the style of "24", but without Kiefer Sutherland or guns***.....

15.45 GMT
I phone the number on the renewal notice, navigate the myriad options and wait on hold until I get to speak to a human being.

15.50 GMT
I explain the situation and say that I'd like to see if we can get the cost down to a reasonable level. The chap in the call centre tells me that he'll need to put me through to the correct department, if I don't mind waiting on hold for a moment. WTF? What was all the "in order to deal with your call more efficiently please throw a six to start using our system" bullshit? Surely I should have gone straight through to the correct department in thew first place. I bite my tongue and wait on hold.

15.55 GMT
I get through to another lady, I explain the situation, she tells me that if I am prepared to wait for a moment she will transfer me to the correct department.

16.00 GMT - 16.20 GMT
Repeat above x 3. I snap. I inform the current chap that although I thought my request was quite straightforward people appear to be misunderstanding me and putting me through to the wrong department. I simplify the request.

"You are trying to put up our prices for no good reason. If I can't speak to someone now who can reduce this price then I will move ALL of our business from you and place it elsewhere."

There was silence. It was followed by hold music, followed by a cheery lady who took my phone number, address and solemnly promised that someone from their Customer Retention Team would contact me within a week.

The Customer Retention Team are probably standing on the doorstep of my old house as I type, shivering in the cold and wondering where I am.


* - No names, no pack drill. Oh OK, it was Scottish Power. 
** - Hey, you've got to aim high, right?
*** - Unfortunately.


  1. I am angry for you.

    I am also laughing at the high probability that the CRT IS in fact, standing at the doorway of your old home!!!

    Good luck!

  2. This sounds familiar...I have a feeling I know exactly how you feel