Friday, July 13, 2007

Bloody inefficient energy company

When we first moved into our house, it already had a prepaid card meter system installed for both the electricity and gas. As we preferred to be billed, our landlord had both replaced to electronic meters. The company we signed up for is supposed to be one of the biggest in the UK and has ads running on TV all the time.

A few months on I was a bit worried as we hadn't received any bill as yet. Looked up their website and called up their customer service number. Was asked to push a couple of numbers one after another and I finally got a ring tone. However after several minutes nobody answered. At that time we didn't have a house phone and I was calling from my mobile - I hung up. Emailed them asking them for a bill. Received a prompt reply and they asked me to send them my meter readings. This I did.

After a few weeks I received a letter from Siemens (their official metering partner, it seems) asking me to fill up a a small form with the meter reading and send it back to them. I was a bit concerned as the letter was addressed to "New Customer" with our address but I sent it back anyway,.

Weeks went by but still no bill arrived even though we received 2 new prepayment cards. I again sent them an email and called them up too. This time I got through and explained that I had changed to a metering system. The people at the other end were quite polite but seemed to be quite clueless to what was going on and couldn't give me any satisfying answer. Was passed around a bit but finally assured that everything will be settled.

While waiting for the bill, I had the billing changed to my name rather than my wife.

I got the shock of my life when we received TWO bills in February - one for £584.57 and another for a whooping £1,193.97 (both dated 18 of Sept. 2006). The bills were addressed to the "New Customer" but both had separate account numbers listed. Around the same time, we received 2 more prepayment cards addressed to my wife.

Of course I was worried. Remember this was in Winter and we had 2 kids with us. Just imagine what would have happened if the gas and electricity were cut off.

I called them up and after being passed around a few time finally spoke to someone who told em that there had been a mistake and if I could give them the meter reading AGAIN.

Waited for some more time but the bill still didn't come. Called them up again - got passed around and I had to explain everything all over again - that we didn't have a prepayment meter, the bill was wrong as we only moved in around the end of Sept. blah blah blah.

We finally received a bill around the end of March and another in June. All the while no body came to check the meter readings, which means that our bills were estimations.

In the end, fed up with the company and after finding out that other companies were offering much cheaper rates, we shifted to EDF energy last month.

However, the story does not end there. After we moved to the new company, we have been visited by representatives from the previous company, not once but TWICE. They wanted to change our non-existent prepayment meter to the newer version.

The difference between a developing country (for example, Malaysia) and a developed country (UK) is that they are (supposed to be) more efficient and have better customer service. That is also the same argument behind the privatization of services but it seems like they have messed up everything here in the UK. Customer service is almost non-existent even though we have a number of companies to choose from.

Give me Tenaga Nasional anytime.

updated with extra info: 18 July '07

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