D4D

You look like one of them, but talk like one of us

Archive for the category “Utilities”

Connectivity – Fixed (For Now)

Last weekend, as I said here, my internet connection started to go really bad (again).  I know what causes it, it’s just one of those things that’s a pain in the bum when it happens.

As usual, I got in touch with BT – this time through the online fault-reporting process.  Despite knowing what the problem is, there’s nothing in the process that lets you bypass it – and trying to get through it by using the phone and talking to badly-trained customer service lifeforms is even worse.

So we go through the usual farce of (in no particular order)

  • Have you checked all the extensions? Yes. (I don’t have any, but sure, I’ve checked them if it makes you happy)
  • Have you tried the connection with another phone? Yes. (I don’t have a spare phone just for this, and I know what the problem is)
  • Have you disconnected everything else? Does the problem still exist? Yes, of course it bloody does. The problem’s in your master socket.
  • Do you realise that if we find the problem is on your side (don’t worry, we won’t) then you’ll be charged £130 on your next bill?  Yes, I do realise it. (You’ve been here seven times all told in five years, all for the same problem, and I’ve never been charged, so it’s a fair bet that it won’t happen this time.)

And once we were through that, the engineer was booked for Wednesday morning, between 8am and 1pm.

He turned up, 8.10 – a good sign. Agreed with my diagnosis, and had a better look at the hole in the wall where the cable comes in. (Which the other engineers should have done, but well, we’ll gloss over that)  The silicone sealant was perished, and there was no drip-drop (as he called it) outside – basically, a small curve in the cable before it goes into the house, so that the lowest point for water is below the hole. Between those two things, he could easily see why water would be coming in – particularly in strong storms, which is what’s always been the precursor to the problem.  So, replaced silicone sealant, and he pulled enough cable through to enable a small drip-drop.

As well as that, he agreed to move the master socket further up the wall – basically, if this new one gets water damage, it’s likely that my concerns are going to be about far more than just my internet going down!

All told, it took about an hour to do the work – and of course I didn’t get charged, because the problem was with the master socket. As expected.

Only time will tell if it’s completely fixed (hence why I’m writing about it here, as a reference point in case of future problems) but as we’ve now gone for belt, braces, and piece-of-string methods in one visit, I’m hoping there won’t be any further recurrence of the problem…

 

Fixing Things

So far, this year has involved a number of customer service clusterfucks, some of which I’ve mentioned on here, and it looks like a number of those issues are now on the way to being sorted, thankfully.

That list includes

  • The Cat boots – successfully returned to manufacturer, and a replacement pair are (apparently) on the way
  • The Credit Card company – seems to be sorted, with outstanding issues rectified.
  • My Accountants – this has been something that’s been ongoing for a year or more, where they’re just ridiculously slack and uncommunicative. If it weren’t for the fact that they’ve been free (for the last 18 months!) then I’d have moved on well before now.
    The free stuff is a story of its own, but basically when I complained to director level at the end of 2015, they told me I wouldn’t be charged until they’d fixed the issues.  Eighteen months later, the issues are still there, although having had some productive conversations with the Operations Director, I think they’re turning the corner at last!
  • BT – Hopefully, that’ll be sorted today. The engineer is due between 8am and 1pm, and fingers crossed things will be sorted.

There’s a couple of other things coming up that so far seem positive, but I’m waiting for them to come through properly before I write about them.

All told though, yeah, it’s all feeling a bit more fixed and positive.

Connectivity

Yet again, my home broadband connection has gone to pot over the weekend.

It’s an ongoing problem – basically, there’s a leak in the outdoors part of my connection, so when it rains heavily, water gets in, and corrodes the connections in the master socket.  I start to know it’s going to be bad when any phone call I make (not that I make many on the landline, but still) starts to get crackly.  After a while, it then gets bad enough that the next ingress of water breaks things properly, and leaves my modem/router dropping the connection and reconnecting on an all-too-frequent basis.

In the five-and-a-bit years I’ve been in this house, I’ve had four master sockets. Now soon to be a fifth.

BT refuse to believe that this is the problem – this has been going on for ages, and they’ve done line checks etc., but won’t replace the outside part of the connection, for some reason.

So we go through the farce of doing fault-tracking, “We can’t find anything” and then booking an engineer to come out.  Every time, I get told “If it’s a problem past the master socket (i.e. with my own wiring) then it’ll cost £129.99 on your next bill”.  It won’t be with my wiring, because I’ve got precisely one socket, and one connector/splitter (also supplied by BT) on it.

Everything else will be fine, it’ll just be corroded connections in the master socket. Again.

This time, I’m going to aim to get the engineer to reinstall the master socket, but do so higher up the wall (so water doesn’t get in, as it can’t climb cables) or on a longer cable inside the house, so I can put it on a shelf or whatever, and again, let gravity deal with the problem.

The engineer’s coming out on Wednesday morning, so we’ll see what happens from there. It’d be nice (and really quite novel!) to have it sorted properly this time. But only time will tell whether that’ll happen or not.

Changing Meters

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been – again – having issues with nPower and their circus-clown cohorts, Lowri Beck. I’ve written about this before, where they had said they hadn’t been in my house for four years, despite being supposed to be checking things at least once a year.  (And having supplied meter readings to nPower – so fuck knows how they managed that without having been in the house!)

Anyway, when they did come round back at the start of July, it turned out the electricity meter was fucked faulty, and so needed replacing. Fortuitous timing, as it’d been OK two weeks previously, when I took a reading from the damn thing.

The problem – as usual, with Lowri Beck – is that their meter replacement teams don’t work weekends. And nPower won’t do anything to compensate their customers for having to take time off to replace a meter (or anything else), even when it’s at nPower’s behest. All of which left us at a bit of a standoff.

Eventually, having progressed through the layers of nPower’s customer services section, I finally got to speak to someone who had the power/rank to be able to book in a job for a Saturday.  It was still a bit random, as more urgent jobs would take precedence over a lowly meter reading – but it got done. And only one cancellation before the person came out to do the job.

Because Lowri Beck couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery, the fitter had actually come from… London. All the way up to Milton Keynes – so was only able to do one other job on the same day.  It does make you wonder just how Lowri Beck stay in business, when they’re that disorganised and cretinous.

Anyway, an hour later, I’ve got a new – well, new to me – meter, and we can hopefully start seeing something approaching account normality.

Mind you, they did still manage to mis-enter the supplied readings from the new meter, and would’ve over-charged me quite significantly if I hadn’t been keeping an eye on the account…

 

Clowns, the lot of ’em.

Weekend of Quiet – the nPower farce

As I said earlier, the only scheduled thing for the weekend was a visit from Lowri Beck,  the clowns who are nPower’s third-party partner in the area – who needed to check my electricity meter.

Supposedly they legally *have* to do this once a year – and they allege they haven’t been inside my property in four years (i.e. before I even moved in), so it’s hardly a legal requirement in the first place. Saying they haven’t had access is utter bollocks, by the way,  as someone from the company was in there to check the gas one a month ago, and I’ve had people from the same company in to do readings before (except they then lost them, due to being useless cunts)

Anyway, the guy turned up, and in his most helpful manner said “Oooh, that’s not good. How long’s it been doing that?”. To which, of course, I said “Doing what?”, as I’m not a fucking mind-reader, and couldn’t tell you one end of a meter problem from the other.  “That” he says, and points at the meter.  “Go on, give me a clue.”

Turns out, there’s a flashing light that says “I need replacing”. It wasn’t there two weeks ago when I took my own meter reading, but now the clowns are here, we get the full circus lights. *sigh*

So – I now need to get a replacement meter.

But in a fit of truly inspired crap customer service, Lowri Beck’s installers only work Monday to Friday, 9-5. So to get a new meter, I’m going to have to take time off work, costing me money for something that’s entirely not my fault. And nPower won’t offer any alternatives, compensation, or understanding. (Which is no surprise whatsoever)

I’ve got it booked in, but it looks like it may just be time for yet another fight with the asshats at nPower.  Oh goody.

Change is Gonna Come

As per comments on the previous post about my asshole energy suppliers, I will definitely be looking at changing them this year.

However, because of the ongoing billing fuckups, right now I have no decent figures for comparison purposes. I’m sure I’m not getting a good deal from the cockwhistles at nPower, but I don’t actually know for sure how bad the deal is. I haven’t had a clear and accurate bill in nearly three years – which makes figuring anything else out into quite a struggle.

As always, I don’t see the point in changing anything until I know I’m getting a better deal – so for now I’ll be keeping things with nPower.

However, that’s only for the next couple of months, during which time I’ll be keeping an eye on actual usage and what I’m paying. Once I’ve had the next bill, and know more about the usage and expectations, I’ll be able to make a far better estimation of what I’m spending versus what I could/should be spending.

And from that point, I’ll then have to decide whether I’m going to stick with [current location] for at least another year’s tenancy. If I am, and there’s a good offer around, I’ll swap. Until then, it’s going to be about making sure I’ve got the figures to back up the decision one way or t’other…

Energy Madness

Since moving to the new (current) place, I’ve had an ongoing (and too depressing for words) set of issues and disputes with nPower. These have included, but not limited to

  • Not having the correct name on the account for eighteen months, despite repeated requests to change it
  • Losing documentary proof (including my tenancy agreement) of my address. Originals were insisted upon, sent recorded delivery, signed for, and then lost.  Hard to place blame anywhere except nPower
  • Billing issues – my bills went up, down, sideways, and every way except correctly
  • Misrepresentation – sending a meter reader into my house under the guise of being someone to do ‘legal gas meter checks’.  (This was also while the bill/account was in the wrong name, so there was also some issues legally around that)
  • A meter reading done by a representative of nPower, who then managed to register that reading to a completely different address, and denied ever having done one for this house. (Despite his having done readings/visits recorded to every other house in my block at the same time)

So it’s fair to say that I regard nPower as incompetent useless dickwhistles at the best of times.

Today, though, has taken it to a whole new level.

Things have settled down somewhat, and on Tuesday I gave them a meter reading directly through the website.  At that point, my account was £1.62 in credit.  Happy day, all well and good.

Today I logged in for a quick check. £595.82 in credit.  Um, what? So I look, and it’s got four cancelled bills, adding up to the amount in credit.  Four bills I’ve received, and paid. Now cancelled. File under “Fuck, What The”

So I gave them a call. The first incompetent managed to put the phone down on me. So I called back, and finally got through to one of the (few) efficient and competent individuals who work at nPower. (I’m quite sure she won’t last long, having been actually pleasant and competent)

It turns out that – once in receipt of a valid meter reading – nPower cancel out all the estimated bills back to the previous correct reading. They then recalculate all those bills with the correct figures (although technically they must still be estimates of what was used, averaging out the figures over the number of bills) to bring everything back up to date.  So for however far back, the bills get cancelled – despite having been printed, posted and paid – and then recreated.  Then I’ll know what I need to pay to be up to date.

Except of course that they’ve also got to send out all those new bills. So next week I’m going to get five bills from nPower – the four reconstructed ones – as well as the one to bring me up to date.

Now, I realise that this is something that’s required by the energy regulator – but does it strike anyone else as a completely fucking barking way to run a business?

Post Navigation