Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Of course, you should never say "never". Writing "The End" to anything is rather like a retirement speech from Frank Sinatra in days of old. The trouble with the words "The End" is that when you decide to make a comeback, you have have to make a comeback.

The truth is, that however infrequent it may be, I think I need a place to write. A place where I can write my thoughts, in my style.

So here I am again. One year and a bit on from the last time.

Those in the know will know that life has changed somewhat in the last year for the Writes household. For one, I no longer foster children. Instead I am back on my old path of seeking my fortune. (Well, just enough to pay off the "still vast" mortgage will do.) Now the thing is, Dick Whittington left Gloucester to seek his fortune in London. We on the other hand left London to seek ours in Gloucestershire. I make an observation only.

Hubby is now working in Hampshire on a daily basis, and makes occasional appearances at the homestead, ED  is in Birmingham doing a postgrad, ESOS is at University in Cardiff and Sensible has left school, is working hard and not often in. This means that our once overfull household (at the peak it was up to thirteen, albeit for a few weeks, and twelve, for over a year) has become considerably quieter. I'd like to say "quiet and serene", but frankly that would simply not be true. There is no-one in the Sally Writes family who is remotely serene. When the world was created, anyone in our own personal gene line missed out on the bit of personality that said "calm", "serene" and "quiet".

Other things have changed too. My brother Barrie has just become a best selling author, as of today. Well, OK. Slight exaggeration. He has written a book through and it is to be published next summer. I've added it to my favourite books list on my profile. Just in case he becomes REALLY famous, I can genuinely say "I read it first." It's very good by the way. It's called a "A Higher Authority", a spy story. Look out for it next summer...

One thing that never changes though is Sally's dealings with customer service centres.

Our current grouse is with an energy supplier. For the sake of their ever respected need for anonymity, let's say they are called "Empower". They have currently, in the last month only, spuriously found an extra £1200, just the £1200, which they have added to our gas bill for no known reason. And now they are sending out seriously stroppy letters, calling us and have even graced us with an agent visit. They nobly have charged us £10.50 for each phone call that we have made to try to rectify the matter, and another £23.50 for the agent visit, who visited, after they billed for him.

I patiently spent an hour on the phone on Saturday, trying to explain that our bill was not as big as they said it was, and that we were paying monthly and were not in arrears. Unfortunately at every turn, the "computer said no" no matter how much I tried to explain that they have made a mistake.

After forty five minutes the conversation was not it seems going anywhere.

"The thing is Miss Writes" said the girl on the other end, "you are £2066 in arrears. So are you going to make that payment today?"

I thought of correcting her view of my marital status, but then decided against that idea. I think that the call centre scripts must only have the words "Miss" and "Mr" written down. Someone really needs to add the word "Mrs" for when it is appropriate.

"I'm really sorry," I said, "but I don't know your name."

"Actually, I did introduce myself at the beginning of the call Miss Writes. It's Stacey."

"Well Stacey, unfortunately, we don't have that sort of money spare in our bank account and our usage from June to the end of October for gas and electricity is only £900, so I really think you have made  a mistake."

"That was summer usage. And besides, you have arrears on the account, and you signed an agreement to say that you would never be more than a certain number of months in arrears.

"But we weren't aware that there were any serious outstanding arrears. A month ago we owed £900 and we paid you £500. In a few days you will receive another £500. We have a standing order of £500 a month set up, which is more than out monthly usage for gas and electricity over the year. We have used £400 of gas and electricity since the start of October. This means that we are paying more than we use on a monthly basis. How can the bill be over £2000? It just doesn't make sense."

"Well Miss Writes, if you refuse to make a payment I have to advise you that we have the right to enter your property and install a pre payment meter. And we can cut off your supply."

At this point I saw red, used a very rude word and suggested that we ended the conversation and that I wrote a letter instead.

That night, hubby and I got out all the bills (having carefully saved the PDF files to the computer, just in case they decide to change the bills after our date of writing), scrutinised every detail carefully, and deduced that they have indeed added £1200 to our bill for no reason. It seems that the outstanding balance, minus what we have paid, plus our usage, comes to £1200 more that the total should read.

Needless to say it makes absolutely no sense.

We wrote a long email, detailing all items and payments, and explained in no uncertain terms, that we weren't over chuffed with the visits, the letters and the phone calls, that we didn't owe them £2000 and that we wanted the matter sorted out "forthwith."

On Monday morning the doorbell rang.

It was an agent from Empower.

Have you read my email? I asked.

"What email? He said.

I firmly, but patiently explained that we had written and that I wanted no further communication from them until they had read the letter properly and rectified the matter.

"You have overcharged us by £1200 I explained. We do not owe you the money that you seem to think we do. And what's more, if you continue to harass us in this manner I may be forced to take legal action."

It is now Wednesday. The silence from Empower is deafening.


enidd said...

sally, enidd thinks all big power companies are terrible places, and she's working for one at the moment (sigh).

enidd hopes it all works out without too much stress.

Pierre L'Allier said...

Sorry about your continuing battles with call centres. Nice to have you back though.

Sally Writes said...

Poor Enidd. I really sympathise. It must be hard trying to steer such people in the right direction...

Hello Pierre!

Thank you! :)

ChrisB said...

Sally I think you have been pretty restrained about this, not sure if it was the same company but my friend had similar problem (she lives alone and elderly like me) and they said she owed several thousand. When it was finally sorted it turns out they were trying to bill her for another customer a few doors away! I would draw it to the attention of watchdog or one of the other consumer programmes. They like this sort of mess up and bet you are not alone!! Hope you get the right result!
Oh and I'm glad to see you back blogging :0

John Greenwood said...

B*astards!! Glad you're back! xx

Sally Writes said...

Thank you Chris and John. Still no word from them. Isn't that weird?

Keith Smith said...

Sorry about the deleted comment, it was full of typos!

Hi Sally, I'd written you off as being lost in the wilderness. I just discovered you on John G's comments.

Are you back to stay? If fact I was only thinking last night to close my site for good because of a severe shortage of hits and even less comments. What's the point? I think Facilebook and Twitter are killing off the gentle art of blogging.

"Empower" tried that trick with me, they charged a hellava lot for gas. I pointed out to them I didn't have a gas supply, so they sent a secret agent to check it out. I never heard any thing after that.

Sally Writes said...

Hi Keith
Yes indeed. My writing is somewhat sporadic, but I guess that even the occasional urge to write needs a platform. So not disappeared yet!
Still no word from the company mentioned... Have now escalated the complaint to the MD. But still no answer.