It’s been a bit crazy with laptop and connection problems, not to mention the unusual weather, but I hope you’ve been enjoying the short stories and feel encouraged to check out my various books on Amazon
Something totally different for this week, which involves a few moans and digs at customer service but is actually quite amusing. 😀 Let the saga begin.
Up until around two years ago I received a bill from the water company twice a year, and a certain amount was debited from my bank account every month. Over time with inflation the amount increased slightly, but nothing unexpected. Then out of the blue I started getting weird emails about my water metre (which I never knew I had), the debits from my account stopped being claimed, and I received bills which made not an iota of sense.
Often I would receive three bills showing totally different amounts all dated and received on the same day by post. Then I received an apology for the delay in installing my water metre (remember, the one I never knew I had), and confirmation they were on the case and would be giving me some nominal compensation for the hassle. Fine, as I was becoming concerned no payments had been claimed, and knew the amount owed would be building up.
Then I received notification that I must have a leak, (anyone remember the Carry-on films?) One of their engineers (if that’s what you call them) came out, lifted the water cover outside on the payment, waited ten minutes, presumably took some readings then surprise, surprise said it was on my property not external in their bit, so it was down to me to get it repaired.
After some hassle to find someone local to look at the problem, a plumber came out and investigated. I paid their bill, had more confusing information from the water company, got another guy out who ended up down the manhole in the front garden. Although he couldn’t trace a leak, he did clear out years of accumulated gunge through the pipes which could have been causing problems. Paid his bill and after submitting them to the water company was advised they would consider an allowance towards the costs incurred.
Time passed and I was still receiving confusing emails about whether I have or have not got a metre, and still no claims for amounts I might owe them. Then I was asked to submit a metre reading. How? Presumably the gauge is out on the pavement, and I’m not physically capable of using an implement to lift and twist a cover to see if/where it is situated. Am I being ridiculous but wasn’t that the job of the guys in uniform who used to come round every now and then so they could submit a bill?
Customer service were a laugh. Bless them. From the names I would imagine they are all in a call centre, or somewhere where English is a second language, and although they are very sweet and polite they haven’t got a clue.
Mind you, when I resorted to trying official complaints to the UK company to get it sorted, I was given a reference number and contact name and advised of the latest date they would respond. Fair enough, and a day or so before the final date I received another email giving me another reference number and saying they would get back to me within a further two weeks as they were still investigating. Okay, except I have now accumulated a pile of reference numbers and emails which have done nothing except let me know they are on the case.
The thing which made me laugh the most was I was told my contact was going on a month’s holiday so not to worry if I didn’t hear from him for a while. This is where the ‘You cannot be serious bit comes in.’ We’re talking about a major company which covers the capital city of England, not Joan and Fred who run the corner shop with their daughter helping out when they get busy or go off for two weeks holiday in Brighton.
Then I received another email from a different name saying my contact was still off so he was just keeping me informed, and I hadn’t been forgotten. A few days later I received an email my account had been adjusted by a certain amount to take into account the leak. Did they mean they had charged extra or agreed a refund? All would be explained shortly when I received the revised bills.
A few days later three envelopes arrived, all dated the same day, all with bills for different amounts. The first one made sense, the ‘left-overs’ from two years ago when they stopped claiming the direct debits. The second one made a sort of sense, although it was only a bill for ‘one day’ but it included the left overs and roughly what I would have expected to pay for the following year, all to be claimed in a few weeks’ time.
Were we at last getting somewhere? Don’t count your chickens but perhaps I would finally be able to clear and file all the emails and bills and actually get back to writing books!!
Then I opened the third envelope. Another bill contradicting the first two but not including the amount from the email either as a debit or credit, and no inkling of what the extra £500 odd charged is all about. If you’re a betting person I would lay odds that when the day arrives and I check my bank account nothing would have been claimed and I will still be in limbo. I’m tempted to pay the old, old amount from two years ago which is roughly correct but would that confuse the robots so they would claim it again? Should I just pay what I think is about right to save the constant worry or should I resort to the ombudsman to add another layer of useless administration?
I have tried the ‘pick up a phone and speak to someone route,’ but after listening to the recorded message ‘your call is important to us’ so many times only to be told someone would look into it and get back to me, I prefer to have a paper trail by email. If nothing else, it gives me a plot for a blog post.
Stay tuned and see you next week.
© Val Portelli July 2022.