Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Can I help you?


I have a major-ish project in the pipeline, and it's taking rather longer than I intended, but is nonetheless holding my interest. More of that anon - if I ever get to finish it.

However, in order to put something up on here, I thought I'd fill the gap with a recount of my telephone conversation with a Centrica operative this morning.

This is the modern world, as Paul Weller once said, and this call to British Gas summed that up. I received an email telling me that my latest gas bill was ready to view, and promptly checked it, only to find that I appeared to owe the lovely people who heat my home and provide energy for cooking my food over £800 for two months' worth of gas consumption. This in a period (April to June, with mostly warm temperatures) when I have had the heating on twice - both times for less than an hour, and so as you can imagine I had to assume that there had shurely been shome mishtake. I called the 0800 number and pressed option 5 for 'Anything Else'. After a minute or two (not too long, not too short) of the violins and horns on that Blur track which so hideously infects Spotify every 3 seconds, a man came on the line. He did not sound as if he was talking to me from Mumbai, in between watching Eastenders on UK Gold, but I don't mind if he was.

"Can I take your name, please?..."
"Is it OK to call you Alan?..."
"And the first line of your address?..."
"Could you confirm your date of birth please?..."
"Your mobile number? Do you have a landline number? Is your email address still the same?..."
"Are you calling about your gas or electricity account?..."
"How can I help you today?"

Well, something is clearly wrong, Mr Man, said I. Eight hundred pounds is a very large sum of money indeed to pay for such a small period of time, etc. I was advised to do something called a burn test, involving turning all the gas on for a minute and watching to see if the dial was turning. This - I told him - I would do.

He then went on to say he was cancelling the bill (phew!) as it was clearly incorrect, and had I considered some of the different payment methods on offer, which would mean Nectar points flowing my way like water. I mumbled non-committally, feeling - though I have one - that Nectar cards are a total fucking waste of time. After that, he asked if I wouldn't mind awfully participating in a brief customer satisfaction survey, which should take under a minute, and which asked me to rate my experience on a scale of 0-10 using the keys on my telephone. I gave him a 9, even though he had annoyed the shit out of me.

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