triple madness

After 18months in contractual hell, I’ve switched internet provider recently (taking monthly bills down by 70%). This morning I had to nominate a new candidate for “most outrageous customer service”.

Let me explain. I had to look not twice, but seven times, when I received the “your latest gas bill is ready” mail this morning, going from disbelief to desperation. The bill said “outstanding balance 2683.80” – that is two thousand, six hundred and eighty three pounds.

The average price for gas per month for our area and our household size, across all available providers, is 60 pounds; we have paid just over 70 pounds per month in the past 20 months, slightly more than average, but OK. What the current bill says, is that, in fact, it should have been almost 200 pounds per month.

In between calls with their customer service (and being shouted at, putting the blame on me, by one of their first level support team) I did some online research, and came across this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37079287 it reads like the blueprint of my case.

Being handed upwards through support levels, the tone of voice got friendlier, not admitting an error on their side, but seeing the need “to investigate this further”. I’ll receive a call back on Monday and am hopeful that I have indeed fallen victim to the errors described in above linked story (basically a mix up of imperial and metric meter readings). The info and image on the upper third of this page matches perfectly, too.

imag0568
maybe the key indicator that my suspicion is right – note the black “m” in the middle of above picture, we have a meter reading in cubic metres.

What is most outrageous is this: Referring to the BBC article, those practises were made public in national media more than six weeks ago. Always assuming that my case is one of those “overcharged by factor three” ones, I wonder how they went through with billing me in the light of said revelations. That gut wrenching feeling in my stomach from when I first saw the amount supposedly due, is still with me. If true, it would pose a huge blow to my financial bearings. But, hypothetically, I would manage somehow with borrowing and making installments, it would not be the end of days. But:

Now, I am near certain that I’m not an isolated case. Hundreds, maybe thousands of their customers will be in a similar situation. What this does to vulnerable people, to somebody who is already over the edge money-wise is horrendous, it can put them to despair and beyond. I’d be very keen to find out if others, especially in rural parts of Scotland, have experienced something similar; it would confirm a very worrying train of thought and fuel the outrage I already feel.

On a good day, I am reasonably articulare and able to research and fight for myself. Many are not, and if only a fraction of those affected are pushed into paying an unjustified amount, then not only is compensation self-evident, but  the company (which I decided not to name yet for legal reasons) has some serious explaining to do and must be held to account.

To be continued…

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