We moved to a rented house in August and, despite many ‘phone calls and e-mails up to now (6 November), have failed to establish a customer / supplier relationship with British Gas for energy. I have just handed over to our landlord a sheaf of letters addressed to her, and two to previous tenants, all but one in error in one way or another.
Apparently the property is known to British Gas – power comes out of the sockets and the lights work as do the cooker and central heating. The problem, or the main problem, is that until we have an account for each untility (it’s a dual fuel account) we cannot switch to another supplier, at a better rate, nor can we take advantage of discounts for paperless billing and payment by direct debit and our landlord is still technically liable for all energy used.
I have spoken with so-called customer services agents in various parts of the UK and, believe it or not, South Africa: all to no avail. I have been told that the problem at their end is a “systems issue”, but no-one can say what that means or how long it will take to fix.
I thought that privatisation was supposed to bring efficiencies to the utilities, but all it seems to have done is fragment industires, create duplication, minimise real customer care and maximise profits.
Eventually this was resolved (we hope!), but it was VERY hard work. It is no wonder that there is inertia in the public who are exhorted to ‘switch’ in all sorts of industires (telecoms, energy, banking, insurance, mortgages etc.,): I think they are legitimately fearful of the chaos that might follow – I know I am.