I've Got The Power?

Posted on 4 January 2003 in Shopping (No comments)

Picture the scene. It's April 2002 and I've finally taken notice of all those reports by the consumers associated Which? which say most people are paying more for their electricity than they need to.

So off I go to a website called uswitch.com which helps you pick a new supplier - it does a check on how much you pay a year and shows you how much you might be able to save.

Saving Money is Good.

And lo, it appears that if I move away from Southern Electric and go with London Electric, I can save some money, so I click the 'apply' button and fill in all my details.

Thinking back, I'm not sure London Electricity was the cheapest I could have had, but they were a big name, so I felt a bit more comfortable opting for them than some bizarrely named outfit that I'd never heard of.

Anyway I fill in all the details on the website, and send it off. I get an email from uswitch.com telling me London Electricity will be in touch within a few days and I leave it at that.

Probably a week later and a letter arrives saying everything is on its way and they'll be in touch again soon. I settle back knowing that I've saved meself some dosh.

Zzz Zzz Zzz.

And I wait. And wait. And wait. And gradually I forget until around August when I find the letter again and think "hmm, maybe I should ring them up". But I don't - never seem to find the time and before I know it, it's October.

So it gets to October and I think, "stuff this for a game of pigeons, I'll find someone else", but in my lazy way, I never get round to it.

All of a sudden it's 3 January 2003 and a letter arrives. And I quote:

"We really need to speak with you!"

Oh yeah?

It's from London Electricity.

"As there has been a delay in processing your Electricity contract, we need to speek to you to make sure you are still happy to proceed."

For some reason, they're not convinced I still want them after I've been waiting for eight months. They'll only proceed if they receive confirmation from the customer, that they'll happy to do so.

Ah, customer satisfaction.

Quite what the problem was, I don't know. I'll probably never know as I have no intention of phoning them. Making me wait eight months doesn't exactly inspire confidence in their customer service.

Okay so the delay might not have been their fault - they may have sent something out to me that just never arrived, or they had a delay getting some info from Southern Electric. On the other hand they could be just plain incompetant. Who knows.

What I do know is that it shouldn't take eight months to actually bother to write to a customer to see if they want to proceed. At the very least, they should have written to me after a month or two to let me know what was going on. Eight months is just plain stupid.

Even better was the bit of the letter that said that if they don't hear from me "within five days of the date of this letter", they won't proceed. Whilst I will often get letters sent from Scotland the next day, getting anything from one side of London to another can often take ages. Add to that the fact that they sent the letter out on 31 December, then five days doesn't go very far. The day it arrived, I had just two days left to phone of them. One of which is a Sunday when they're shut.

Back to researching again...

After that inspiring act of customer service, I decided not to bother with London Electricity and went back to uswitch.com and did my research again. I found someone even cheaper, who should save me about £60 a year off my bill. Let's hope it doesn't take them eight months to sort it out...

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