Fighting British Gas
Last week was busy for many reasons, with loads of little happenings but nothing to really stop and write a blog post about. Instead, I’ve chosen to chuck a few small pieces into one post, including fighting British Gas. Easy peasy.
Not today, though. Today I am choosing to acknowledge that I am getting old.
There are many signs of aging. The skin sags, the hairline recedes and you start growing hair where you never had hair before, in my case: back and ears. Ears FFS!
Or I get belligerent and refuse to apologise for things. I’ve just accidentally kicked a small child to the floor? I am getting old, I shall not apologise. I even refuse to feel bad for not saying sorry.
In fact, just as I have begun to accept that age is a bastard that is slowly gripping me tighter, and start to believe that I know what is in store, I get taken by surprise.
Take for example when I moved house at the start of December. One of the first things I did was to contact the utility companies to get the bills transferred over. First call: British Gas. A twenty-minute conversation including giving them as many details as I could about myself so that they could take over supplying my gas. I followed this with a swift call to Eon to sort out the same for my electricity supply.
“Mr B, we already supply both gas and electric to that house. If you want to take both with us, we can just switch it across to you.” the customer service rep at Eon advised.
“Ahh, unfortunately, I have just this minute put the phone down to British Gas who I’ve asked to take over the gas side of things. Is it easy to cancel?”
“It should be, just give them a call after this and they’ll sort it out.”
Excellent, so I put the phone down once I’d agreed my dual fuel deal with Eon and called British Gas back on the number I had used previously. I spoke to the girl who answered and explained what had happened.
“I’m sorry, we don’t have any details of you on our system.” I was advised.
After explaining that I had spent twenty minutes giving my details not an hour beforehand, she put me on hold and went off to investigate. When she came back she explained that the details were set up on a different system, which pushed the information through to a separate section who would then add me to the system in a few days - despite the fact that I had already received an email confirming my details.
“So how do I cancel then?” I asked as I began to realise that fighting British Gas is probably as frustrating as it is futile.
“We can’t cancel you right now because effectively you don’t exist to us yet. However, we will send you out a letter once you’re set up. Once you receive that you can call us and cancel the switch - Legally we have to honour that, so that’s the best thing to do.”
So I said I would, and waited for the letter to drop through my door.
A few weeks later and I had heard nothing from British Gas but instead received a letter from Eon advising that they were sorry to lose me as a customer and that the switch to British Gas was being handled, and that if I had any queries I should call. So I did.
“What’s happened,” I began, explaining the above tale to the poor guy answering the phone, before finishing “so I don’t want to switch, I just want you to supply both.”
The guy tapped away at his keyboard and told me that it was too late to ask them to change as the switch had been started at their end, but that I could call British Gas and they could still cancel proceedings, as there is a week-long window between Eon confirming the switch and British Gas actually carrying it out.
So I called British Gas back. They promised to look into it and call me back, which they did the next day, but only to advise me that they were unable to stop the switch and telling me that I should have called sooner.
“But I called WITHIN AN HOUR of originally speaking to you!” I fumed, “The only way it could be much quicker would be if I invented time travel and travelled back to a time before I called you originally to tell you that I didn’t want you, and even then you’d still have told me that I DIDN’T EXIST ON YOUR SYSTEMS!”
Sarcasm, apparently, doesn’t help these situations. So I was stuck with British Gas. So naturally I called up Eon, asked to switch to them and they go the ball rolling on that.
So what has this got to do with getting older? Well, when Eon wrote to me to ask what my meter reading was so that they could report it to British Gas, I knocked a few figures off of the reading. I was tempted to put a reading that was lower than the reading I gave British Gas on 1st December, just to really screw with their heads, but I didn’t. I just dropped it a little.
Not that it would save me any money. The £10 or so difference I would simply pay to Eon rather than to British Gas, but I felt like I’d achieved a little victory.
Then it hit me. I wouldn’t have done that a decade ago. No. In fact, it was only getting older that had done this. I was now following in the footsteps of my mum and my nan. I have become pettily vindictive. And you know what? I’m not in the least bit sorry.