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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Is there nothing Google can't do?

I've been driven up the wall by British gas over recent months. A quick summary of events: 1. They sent me incorrect bills. In the case of the gas bill, it had the wrong tariff and did not include a credit of £129. In the case of the electricity bill, it had the wrong tariff. 2. I called on 10th July. They said that there was a computer problem, confirmed that the tariffs had been set up incorrectly, and said it would be sort out and they would send a revised bill. 3. No revised bills arrived. They sent me a reminder. 4. I called. I went through the whole thing again and was told again that it would be taken care of. 5. No revised bills arrived. They sent me a rather insulting “red reminder”. 6. I called again and they assured me that no further threatening letters would be sent and that the matter would be resolved. They asked me to send a copy of the tariffs (apparently they don't know what they are) to their amusingly entitled “Customer Care Team”, which I did. 7 I (stupidly, in retrospect) posted a letter with the tariffs enclosed. 8. No revised bills were received, of course, a few days ago I came home to find notices of disconnection. 9. I called their ridiculous customer “service” number, only to be told that (as usual) all of the representatives were busy and that I would have to wait 30 minutes (at my own expense) to speak to someone. Since I had no alternative but to tolerate this appalling state of affairs, I had no choice but to sit with a phone against my ear—when I had considerably better things to do—for 59 minutes. Correct: I waited 1 hour to talk to a customer “service” representative, who said that he couldn’t hear me properly because of a bad line but would call me back right away. Which, naturally, he did not. 10. I called back and spoke to someone who said that there was nothing she could do but have a manager call me back in the morning. Naturally, they didn't call. 11. I called back to get a fax number os that I could send a letter detailing the problems together with (another) copy of the tariffs. They gave me a fax number which of course turned out to be incorrect. 12. I called back next morning and and a woman told me that my account was not on the right tariff (which I knew), that the letter I had sent would take at least a month to process, and that she could not stop the disconnection process. 13. I asked her to transfer me to the debt department, where the phone rang continuously for several minutes without being picked up. 14. I called back and spoke to someone who gave me another fax number which, like many of the other British Gas numbers, is never answered. At this point, I decided that I was wasting my time calling "Customer Service" and that since my electricity and gas were going to be cut off I'd better do something. I turned to the mightiest weapon in any modern person's armoury... Google. Bif! I googled and found that customer services are based in Manchester. I called directory enquiries and got the number. That got me through to a reception desk. The person on the desk said that there were no fax machines in the customer service department. I said that I had an important letter to get through to them and the person on the desk gave me the e-mail address of someone in the department. Bam! The address was in a particular format x.y@x.com so I googled "head of customer services" and go straight through to a page with the relevant clown featured GETTING AN AWARD FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE!! I guessed (correctly) the e-mail address and I sent the contents of the letter as an e-mail. Pow! Since the e-mail didn't bounce, I knew I was on to something. I googled the name on the bottom of the letter threatening to disconnect me and deduced the e-mail address. I send an e-mail with the same complaints (and slightly more invective). Blam! Within a few minutes I had a call back from a nice lady who sorted out the problem. Moral of this story: if one of the faceless and unaccountable fat cats discovers a message in their inbox, they will get someone to do something about it. Don't waste your time calling their disgraceful customer "service" number.

4 comments:

GreatSheElephant said...

Good grief.

Liz said...

Living in the middle of nowhere, we have a great big tank full of oil in the back garden which gets topped up by a nice man called Bill from an independent fuels wholesaler down the road twice a year. Until now I'd viewed it as a bit of an annoyance. I've just been out to give it a kiss and apologise to it.

SBB said...

Eek. Things are bad in Malaysia also, but that was quite some ordeal.

I'm thinking hamsters on wheels and tin cans with string might be worth looking into...

Citizen Dave said...

Carphone Warehouse took 8 weeks to send me my new phone this week, but at least they gave me an extra 50 free minutes a month and a £45 credit by way of apology.

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