Tuesday, 6 October 2015

6th October 2015 - British Gas ??? Biggest Gaffs

Thought for the day: "Shout out to all the people wondering what the opposite of in is."

It is no wonder to me why big businesses are having troubles.. In my case, the problem of today is British Gas !!... 

I know I am not the first - a quick look onto the Googleverse and I see that British Gas made huge problems with their social media and in particular one of their adverts ..

I read:

"If you're an energy firm under fire for an eye-watering price rise, who's just endured a serial rollicking on Twitter for an ill-judged Q&A on the day of the hike, what would you do? Try Facebook?
British Gas has endured another spectacular social media fail, with a sponsored Facebook post appearing on thousands of Newsfeeds on Monday morning.
With the caption "We’re committed to keeping Britain warmer this winter", British Gas posted a bright picture of Britain etched in a warm copper glow, with a cheery looking British Gas engineer."

The post had more than 20,000, overwhelmingly negative comments, and more than 2,700 shares, with similarly damning comments, calling the provider "thieves" and "shysters".

One woman wrote: "Thanks British gas as I rent my property privately, I can not change my provider. Which means my two asthmatic children will have to put extra jumpers on, as the government have said. £200 a month I have to pay to keep my house warm for a two up, two down. What a joke. My heating will have to be turned off a lot more this year. I hope you can live with your selves, British gas when the elderly, children and ill suffer. As a mother am suppose to keep my children warm and safe how will I keep my children warm this year?"

"Why raise prices so dramatically? In truth your only commitment is to pay a good dividend," another wrote.

"Delete this link from your FB people and delete BG from your lives," another man wrote. "Their marketing is working as you are all commenting. The only way to beat them is to ignore them and switch providers."

"I love that a sponsored post by British Gas on Facebook has nearly 9,000 comments telling them how much everyone hates them."

[source Huffington Post]

So let me tell you a personal Story...
About a year ago, I decided to get a warehouse space to look after my boxes and all the furniture that I wanted to take out of the house for the purpose of selling the house and buy a smallholding.
There are previous links if you wish to find them - just search "boxes" in the search engine on this blog!
It was not complicated - a little expensive but worth while if I could clear the house of all the various "tat" and allow visits by prospective buyers...

But as it was a business premises before - it could not get electricity unless it was through a business account. And it was already with British Gas for the electricity.
Now - this particular premises did not have much in the way of power needs. An electric shutter to get in - and the occasional use of a single light..

After contacting British gas and explaining the needs - I managed to speak with a very nice lady who stated that we would arrange a fairly good tariffe based upon a small daily rate and high unit charge for power - that would not be used...   Sadly it took a few weeks to get this in place - and the first bills I got were extortionate - with huge daily charges and cheap unit charges....

I spent a while on the phone trying to speak with various people and in the end managed to get the matter sorted out - I thought !!   With the proviso that it was being "dealt with by the business section" I left it in the knowledge that the bills would be low and reasonable ...   Really ! I can be a little naive at times !!!

When we get to a few months is - it is clear that there is a problem and a few phone calls and a few bills rescinded and I get my first proper request for money - March 2015 - £55.14 - which seemed reasonable for six months for this type of premises.

At this stage I am not unhappy with my service and supply...

I hear nothing more for a few months - it is unsurprising - I do not know how the business side of British Gas work and the amounts will be so small that a few months is not a problem to me ...

Well not until I have my injury out in Germany, get flown back, and find myself invalided at home and picking up some telephone messages from British Gas - which having nothing else to do - I answer... Finding my "Saynoto1870" alternative to the 0330 number which I do not trust to be really free from my Sky phone Line - I am get through to a nice person who tells me that they are concerned as I am owing some £1,800 for my business premises.

"Oh no I am not" I say with assurance  - "Why do you say that?? " they ask. "Because there is only one single light bulb and an electric shutter" - "Ahh - but we have readings of your meter so they must be right !" The excessive amount seems to have been in early spring.

I ask where they have been since spring and why am I being told this now with no bills being sent.
"oh - we have been sending you bills out" they state - then a pause - and "apparently we only have your address as 'New Road Llanelli' - err - we do not seem to have a number so the letter are probably not getting to you.."
"And Email??" I ask  - a bit of silence ..
"we will send you copies of the invoices..."

Which was very interesting!
On 24th August I get the following spreadsheet showing the following invoices and credit notes have been applied to my account..
I will admit - the number of bills and credit notes was a surprise to me up to the date of payment in early spring. Then I was incredulous!

There was a clear problem on 18th June 2015. No less than three invoices sent for amounts of £956,  £1,043,  and then £1,674  - all dated the same day and all showing an increase.  What was more worrying is that they were showing - not an estimated amount - which could be excused - but that they were a physical reading of the meter..

And having my mailing address with a house number now ... they duly sent me copies of each - how much did that cost I wonder ?

While accepting that the lower amounts were then credited  we see a more reasonable set of monthly amounts at £126, £13.17 and £18.04....

I am assured by the customer services representative that there can be no mistake - as the meter has been read !   Yeh !!   I wonder how many small businesses at this stage may have paid up ..

With my broken arm and sling - I made my way down to the warehouse and managed to open the doors -  and with my faithful phone camera..

I can confirm that the reading is at least 1000 units below that claimed....

Just as well really - on 21st September 2015 I get a very polite email from
Euan Henderson
Edinburgh Referrals
British Gas Business

"Good Morning Mr Sewell,

This is in relation to your contact made to British Gas on 26.08.2015. We were advised that you were going on Holiday which is why I have not contacted you until today.

You advised that you had received a bill that was for a higher value than you had expected, and that the meter reading used on this bill was incorrect.

In order for us to correct this invoice, we would require a photograph of the electricity meter clearly showing the meter serial number (1918782) and a meter reading, as the meter reads we have on your account are showing as firm reads taken from the meter. This could either be from someone at the business or from a utility meter reader.

Once we have this I am then able to reverse the invoice and update our system."

Well, I was not sure that the serial number was clear but sent back in any case ...

Almost immediately the matter gets resolved in some part - good old Euan

"Good Morning Mr Sewell,

Further to your enquiry, a meter reader went out to visit the property yesterday to inspect the electricity meter.

I was not advised this would be going ahead so soon so my apologies for not letting you know in advance. They shop next door gave access to the cupboard where the meter is located and the meter reader found the following:

·         He took a reading which matches the photograph you sent in. This has been updated on our system as we did not have correct readings for some time. This means we have reversed all previous incorrect bills and the revised correct copies will be issued to you shortly."

So - all sorted and everyone happy - well - I am still annoyed that they are claiming that the meter was read in June and this means either someone has pretended to read the meter and made a number up - or someone has fraudulently decided to add detail to a bill. Either way - I felt there should be some element of investigation. Either deceit and fraud - or incompetence.

But life goes on...
Oh yes...
My poor postman had to carry all of these in - they are invoices and credit notes all arriving the same day.

Ho Hummm.    Such a waste...   and I had elected to have bills by email until they got everything wrong....  But I have a bottom line at last !!  £68.57 for the period 28th February - 28 September 2015. Payable please by 20th October 2015 ....   Sounds reasonable .. Job Done !!! ( well apart from the matter of the meter reading)

Until today !

What can I say !!!
I have written this blog as I am a little incensed..  you may gather that form the very restrained language of my writing - those who know me will agree that the more restrained my vocabulary - the angrier I possibly am....

I am sending the link to this blog to Tracey Swenne - Head of Debt Operations, and to dear Euan in Customer Support - so they can sort things out.. because if I have to come onto the phone again to sort it out I shall invoice them at my hourly rate for wasting my time once again ...

And in the meantime  - being short of Chateau 41 - I am forced to drink Blossom Hill ....

Thank you British Gas - hoping that you can sort the matter out....

oh - and picture of the day ..

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