Since there has not been anything interesting happening in the UK of late (I joke), it seems the appropriate time to write about my adventures with the power company. As to not implicate anyone, I will refer to them as "Gitish Bras". They are the largest UK energy supplier, it was suggested that we switch to them, our house was previously using "Pottish Scower." Switching over was painful, a clue in what was to come. Originally I was told that I could pay every three months as the charges were accumulated. At least a month after that I was told that my account had not been set up because I did not choose the direct debit option, which I was then forced to take. During this time, I was paying Pottish Scower using my UK bank account. Apparently, they were not getting my payments (I did not know this). Luckily, our power was not shut off during this time, and eventually I closed my account with Pottish Scower by paying my final bill with my Canadian credit card, over the phone. This took a while, there is no hold music when you call Pottish Scower, so you don't know if you are still on the line with them. I once called and listened to someone singing for a few minutes and then was hung up on. REALLY. In the end, Pottish Scower owed us almost £500. Bank statements were sent and phone calls were made, I handed this issue over to my husband as they did not seem to be taking me seriously and I was quite frankly sick of dealing with them. On threat of taking this issue to an ombudsman, they did pay up. When cashing the cheque at HSBC, a bank employee exclaimed, "How on earth did you get money from a Power Company?" Gitish Bras was also over billing us, only a couple hundred pounds a month though.... (internal screaming). Eventually, I got that sorted, and that's when the real fun began.
In April, I received a letter from Gitish Bras, "Dear Resident, Please schedule a gas inspection." Okay, I thought it was strange that they were referring to me as "resident," when they clearly had my name and account information as we were so often in contact. The appointment was scheduled for May 2. The entire house was inspected. Every radiator, the boiler, the cooker, and the fireplace. I was told that everything had "passed inspection," and the paperwork would be passed on to my landlord. There was a small issue of a missing part on the fireplace, but it was apparently nothing to be concerned about, and was still safe to use, the engineer just wanted to make a note of it. Oh, and "we don't have your contact numbers, could we please have them?" I said that I was confused as I had an account with them. Well, this was a separate account under my landlord's name. I gave the engineer my phone number and watched him type it in his computer.
A couple of days later I received a frantic email from my landlord, has the inspection gone well? She had not received any paperwork. I told her that it had gone well, then scanned and sent her my copies of the paperwork. She emailed again and said that she had called Gitish Bras and was told there was a safety warning on the fireplace due to the missing part and it had not passed. Luckily, she would be in town in the next couple of weeks and would get to the bottom of the situation. May 18, a Gitish Bras Engineer (the same guy actually), and my landlord (who is a pretty awesome lady), are squabbling (politely) over the predicament. Landlord, "So we just need to locate this part and the fireplace will pass inspection?" Engineer,"Absolutely, unfortunately, I don't know if this part is available." Landlord, "I don't understand why the fireplace was able to pass inspection last year and previous years without this part?" Engineer, "before this year, the part was not required. It's a new rule. They might change their mind next year and not require the part." Landlord, "So this house cannot be legally rented out due to someone changing their mind?" Engineer, awkward silence, followed by, "like I said, the fireplace is perfectly safe, I just can't check off the boxes and give you the safety certificate without this part." Landlord, "could you please see if you could locate the part that is missing?" Engineer leaves to make some phone calls. Engineer, "they no longer make that part and it is not available." Landlord, awkward silence. Me, "would anyone like some tea?"
At some point it was brought up that the engineer did not have my contact info. Really? I gave him my phone number and watched him type it in his computer. Again. The engineer left soon after, nothing was resolved. I assured my landlord that whatever she decided was fine with us. We even hugged, I told you she is awesome. After many phone calls on the part of my landlord, the missing part was ordered from the manufacturer of the fireplace and shipped to me. May 24, the part arrived in the mail. My landlord called Gitish Bras to let them know that we had the part and ask if they could please call me to make an appointment to install it. They "don't make outbound calls," and I doubt they have my phone number either. I called to make an appointment. "Sorry, the appointment must be made by the account holder."- "Well, I do have an account with you..." -"That is a separate account." Of course. How silly of me. Back to my landlord with options for an appointment. She called and booked for June 6. One of her emails to me, subject line was, #haditwiththem.
Friday, June 2, 9:00 am. It was the last day of half term break, we were all in our pyjamas and a Gitish Bras Engineer was at our door ringing the bell. As I was not expecting them, I double checked my appointment details and told the children to be quiet as we are not answering the door. After an appropriate amount of time had passed, I picked up the calling card he had left and gave him a ring. He said that he couldn't call me because he did not have my contact numbers!? I asked if we had an appointment scheduled. No, he said, he was just coming around to resolve the fireplace issue and let us know that the missing fireplace part was obsolete. "Really," I said, "because I have the part, it was ordered from the manufacturer and we have an appointment to have it installed on Tuesday." HE WAS VERY SURPRISED. He said that likely he would see me on Tuesday.
Tuesday, June 6. A different engineer showed up at my house, installed the part, checked over EVERYTHING again (cooker, boiler, fireplace, radiators), and assured me that it has all passed and we should be good for a year... I am not holding my breath. I do feel like my house must be very very safe.
This is the part that was missing from the fireplace. A small rubber stopper that cost £3 plus shipping. Such a lot of trouble for such a tiny thing. I must say, I am feeling more and more British every day. I think I better put the kettle on. All this talk of Gitish Bras has made me want a cuppa. Everything can be solved with tea.