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This story begin in Sep 2001, when I decided to change over from the standard Scottish Power package to the internet account, for both gas and electricity.
At first all was wonderfull, I got emailed to ask fro meter readings every 3 months, if I forgot to respond they would estimate the amount (which never got to far out) and a bill would be generated and direct debit applied on the right day.
A year or two later I decided to shop around and see if there were a cheaper rate around. I looked at the bill for gas and couldn't work out how it was calculated. There were two rates (as this was a no standing charge tariff).
I emailed the customer service team and asked if they could explain how the bill is calculated. The response was that email is not a secure medium therfore they can't dicuss details via email. Ok so why bother having an email address?? Anyhow, generally the way no standing charge rates work is that you pay more for the for x units then a lower rate for the rest. So I replied to the email saying I didn't need to discuss specifics of my bill I just want to know the value of x.
Again the same reply, I kinda think the guy didn't even read my email properly. So in any case I gave in and phoned the number provided, waded though the menu and finally ended up speaking to a nice lady.
here that I was on the internet account, and a no standing charge tariff, and I wanted to know the value of x, so I could see if I would be better off on a normal tariff. The answer, I'm sorry sir we don't offer no standing charge on the internet, but I have it, you can't have it, look at my account then, oh yes hmm thats not right there must be a mistake let me look into it.
So now realising I had been on the wrong tariff for the best part of two years, I wanted to check this had not cost me a load of money. (to be honest I expected it to be a couple of pounds different and I wouldn't have been bothered chasing it any further) So I put in what I thought would be a simple request (again by email).
"Please can you send me a bill showing what the charges would have been had the error not occurred."
No, we cant send bills in emails, ok can you post it, no we dont post bills for internet accounts, can you put it on the web, no the system can't do that, you can phone us though! So what you are going to read the bill to me over the phone? Err no. They then agreed to pass it to another team to look into.
Weeks passed and nothing. So I went on the web and arranged a transfer to another company (powergen, though they have not been great but that as they say is another story ;)
Then I receive two checks refunding all my gas and electricity for the last two years, great, but there was nothing wrong with the electricity bills! The I recived a letter saying I haven't paid my bill. Well that because I never received it! Because you suspended the account while it was being investigated.
More weeks passed, and powergen finished the transfer, then 3 bills drop onto my doormat.
1 for gas, with the same no standing charge error. grr and two for electricity covering the same period of time but are £100 different in value, due to different meter readings being used.
I spent half an hour last night looking at my previous meter readings, plugging them into a spreadsheet, and I was able to calculate the electricity bill, how come a SP employee can't do it, are they incompetent?
It's a real shame becase their prices and internet page are really good, but this was such a simple request and the managed to screw it up and everything associated with it.
by the way I transferred to Scottish Power as British Gas were so useless. They never even mangaged to supply me with electricity, they kept writing to the flat upstairs and sending them final bills!
Are all power companies useless?
UPDATE 10 Jul 2003 ===================
An amusing couple of days for me and my Scottish Power chums.
Last week I sent a rather official looking letter of complaint recorded delivery to the customer service manager. (Not heard back yet)
Then a few days later I got a call from a nice lady asking if I had paid my bill yet. To which I replied, which one? you sent two.
Oh I only have one here sir. Why don't you look on the system, Oh yes there is a second bill, I think that incorrect, I think this is the correct one? Can you pay this now.
Nope, I'm not paying until I see something in writing telling me which bill is correct and which is a screw up.
Oh, sir, can I ask why you havent paid any bil since Sep 2001.
I have, been paying up to March this year, then you gave me all the money back.
Oh, hmm maybe I should refer this to the custoer service team.
That's probably a good idea ;)
Now when you are an SP customer you get an email every 3months asking you to enter readings, and if you forget you get another reminder. If you don't enter any they will estimate them. Fair enough.
Well I got such a reminder today, but I never had the original. This is the second reminder but no original I've had. I think when they suspend an account it stops the originals but not the reminders going out, not too great really.
Also what made it funnier is that I am no longer a customer, so SP shouldn't even care what my reading are now!
We are getting close to a 1 star for SP. Lets hope they can redeem themselves ;)
The first point of call is where it all goes wrong in my opinion. although your account musnt have been suspended if you were receiveing reminder bills. andy
AnitaM 03.07.2003 14:14
I feel so sorry for all utilities customers (everyone then!) I work for one of the companies and I struggle to get the correct bills and I can get a colleauge to access my account on a daily basis. I work in billing so understand the different issues that can affect accurate bills so I just find it all funny but if I was a bona fide customer I would be so frustrated.
Kiera13 20.06.2003 16:53
I've worked and dealt with several utilities companies regarding customer changes over the years and can tell you with some confidence... Yes, they are all useless.