He didn't get where he is today by stealing somebody else's catchphrase.


I've lived in my current place for 18 months and whilst renovating, I've found lots of bodges that you couldn't possibly think could be attempted when maintaining a house. For example, there was newspaper and cardboard being used as the side-panel for the bath. The previous owner liked to cut corners, so I wasn't surprised when I found out a few other things....

July 2005

...like how the previous occupant had been running a scam. Somehow, he'd managed to con the electricity company into thinking the two electric meters in the house were the other way around. This meant that he'd only been paying about a quarter of the price for energy that he should, because all his electricity was being charged at an off-peak rate. I thought something was strange when I got my first bill through and noticed that the estimates versus the real readings were wildly inaccurate. Thankfully, I read the meters when I first moved in.

With my previous energy supplier (Good Energy), phoning them up was a bit like calling a local business down the road - no script to follow and people sounding just a tad more relaxed. Unfortunately, the previous occupant had used British Gas, so I had to tie up the ends with them before moving over to Good Energy again.

The first British Gas advisor I spoke to didn't believe a word I said about the meter scam, until I said...

"So, I live in a dark, cold hole all day - with every single appliance switched off and I do everything after midnight?"

There was nothing she could say to that. She agreed that the readings needed to be swapped around. And anyway, I didn't want to be billed retrospectively for perpetuating someone else's scam.

October 2005

Of course, what you soon realise about British Gas is that their computer system does nothing, apart from spitting out meaningless bills. The numbers for each of the meters were still wrong. Give them any information and it's immediately tossed to one side - each time, you'll get a reminder telling you that they'll send debt collection agency after you, which is sorta ironic for a company that can't even count.

I was somewhat miffed at holding for 15 minutes a time to speak to someone, followed by getting lots of platitudes, but not much action. I ended up speaking to their "Metering team", who agreed they needed to send someone out to look at the meters, because hell no, my eyes are totally defective and can't read two black boxes with numbers on them. It needs a second opinion.

January 2006

The bills are still continually wrong, added to the frustration that the meter guy never turns up for his appointment. Eventually, the meter guy turns up and agrees with me, despite the fact that it's February when he eventually takes the correct readings....

March 2006

... for the wrong meters. We're still no further forward. They're still back to front.

I lose the plot at this point and what is suggested is that the old meters are ripped out and a single digital box is put in it's place. Sure enough, during April a guy does just that and tells me that the old meters are very old indeed, circa the Three Day Week. Hmmm, irony.

April 2006

Of course, this requires the metering guy to speak to billing guy, which they don't. I'm now getting charged twice - once (correctly) for the new meters, once (incorrectly) for the old meters which no longer exist.

July 2006

A year later I get my next bill, which is nearly right - so I pay up, as I'm hacked off with the errors and request a change in energy supplier, back to Good Energy.

August 2006

British Gas object. Twice. Thwarted again, although curiously enough they respond exceedingly quickly. They are now just objecting because they think they can. I have yet another phone row, which results in them conceding defeat and haven't heard from the until...

January 2007

British Gas send me a "final bill" from when I left them in August 2006. It's still got the same damn two old meters on it. Apparently, when they took the old ones out, they were not marked as "inactive", so to cap it all, Good Energy have now tried to charge me for the same mistake. The difference here is that I spoke to Good Energy, who scrubbed the bill instantly. And so, the saga continues. It's been 18 months so far.

British Gas are quite an amazing company, in that if there is something that possibly could go wrong, it will. Having a long Google for them, I found a very long blog entry, to which a whole pile of disgruntled customers said, "me too". I am not in a unique situation.

All I can advise you to do is stay well away. You really do not want the aggravation.
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