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It’s very easy to bitch about utility companies… especially when they take regular monthly amounts from us and seem to give less of a service for an ever increasing price that seems to send their profits soaring. For those who have put them all in one place with third party sellers like the Utility Warehouse they were trying to get better customer service from the companies the brits loved to hate..
Since the days of “Tell Sid” – yes I am that old to remember – when a cute advert heralded the launch of British Gas shares in 1996
and the cute electric creature comforts ads…
The image of our utility companies has taken a serious dip in popularity… with complaints at an all time high… for mischarging, poor service, estimated readings and difficulty in moving suppliers… The Which? report for 2011 names Npower as the worst of the worst you can check out the full list of the best here but sadly it has the Utility Warehouse somewhere near the top.. which sadly is not my experience… and an article in the Guardian suggest that the responses may be skewed by their own distributors
For anyone who does any networking you will know there are a lot of utility warehouse sales people as they can earn an ongoing commission and get their own consumption for free just by recommending and signing people up.. fabulous concept – except some of the resellers are very poor examples of people I would want to spread my brand… and they seem to breed. One networking event I ran had 6 of them in one room. Their distinctive piggy logo and minis are a very recognisable sight in and around the Herts, London and Essex area which is no surprise as their head office is NW London.
The concept is terrific, sadly if you don’t have access to your introducer you can never find customer service people to help you… I tried about a year ago when they sent me a letter to claim the £100 bonus for the 3 services I signed up to, all we had to do was send in a meter reading 4 times in the year. The letter asked us to contact them to see how we would be paid it… I tried… it was like pulling teeth.. painful and time consuming without the right tools… I almost even contemplated going to see them but really couldn’t be bothered.
The letter languished in a pile and eventually was no where to be seen and forgotten about… until a letter this week saying we need to check your meter – so I called the number – 3 transfers later and an almost helpful customer service person.. I explained that I will not allow just anyone in to my house when I am on my own at home and the quality of the people they were sending were not people I would have alone and could they send two oh and they may need a step ladder and a torch to access the meters half way up a wall in the coal shed at the rear of my house. I also asked about my £100 and was told “oh well you missed one of the meter readings but I will get the manager to authorise it for you”. The chap was quite pleasant and laughed about the ladder issue but really only wanted to see a dated letter next to a picture of the meter (so really the we need to check your meter was nothing of the sort – they just wanted to check we were giving a correct reading). I duly complied and sent a picture showing the meter with a letter dated next to it.
1 week later a rather nasty letter threatening court action to get access for the “gas check” well my meter is actually only about 2 years old as I did have a leak and british gas came and replaced it which I had already told them… I emailed the guy I had sent the picture to and was told well we can get a court order… no you can’t have two people to protect yourself and by the way you are not getting your £100 because we have decided you needed to have 4 services signed up not the three we told you… hmm changing goalposts and one hand really not knowing what the other is doing… yes you qualify – no you don’t…
Utility Warehouse is owned by Telecom Plus and had Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders in some of their promo videos which generated a massive response… and with that a 447 page discussion on it’s service on Money Saving Expert and several complaints about its dodgy advertising upheld by the complaints authority…
Thanks… so like a piggy you have stuffed your face on the best customers who pay on time and actually overpay on the electricity requirement as per you letter earlier the year.. you didn’t reduce my bill.. just said we can reduce it on our winter quarters… hmm hang on we pay you in advance for more than we need and you don’t return it…
Think it’s time to check out if we have the best deal now… as frankly we are not just another sheep following the herd… it’s simple to switch and if you treat me badly I’ll move on to a better provider. Now before I jump from the fire in to the frying pan.. who should I avoid?