What a Gas

I’ve recently taken over responsibility for the supply of gas to Dad’s property. The supplier, British Gas had confirmed they would send me a final bill for Dad’s account. In my initial dealings with British Gas I’d been liaising with a bereavement team who were spot on throughout. Based on my previous experiences with service providers, my heart sank a little when the bereavement team told me they were passing my dealings onto the usual billing team. So how’s it going?

Over the weekend I received a threatening letter demanding £380.73. The threats included additional charges to the bill if I don’t pay, passing the account to a debt collection agency, taking me to court and trashing my credit history. As you can imagine, this letter didn’t put me in the best of moods.

I called British Gas today to give them a meter reading for the property. Yeah I know, they didn’t have a meter reading yet somehow they managed to bypass the final bill and go straight to threats, you figure it out.

I dialled the number, and the machine asked for my 12 digit customer reference. I entered it then pushed several more choices before dropping into a queue. The guy who answered, we’ll call him Gassy, committed a classic call centre faux pas as he asked ‘Can I have your customer reference please?’ ‘You’ve already got it, I entered it when I dialled in’ I replied. I politely and firmly refused to give Gassy the number and he agreed that yep – he had it in front of him alright. Whuh?

Gassy then asked me to confirm the supply address (my Dad’s place) which I did and then we were off. I explained I was in receipt of this letter and I didn’t understand why. Gassy and I muddled about a bit, he got confused about addresses, ‘your address on the bill doesn’t match the one you gave me’ so I explained he’d asked me for the supply address not my home address. I could go on, and on, but you get the dull, tedious, boring, mechanical gist of things. Eventually I gave Gassy the meter reading, he reckoned that information would produce a much lower final bill and I should hear further in about two weeks. So much for the threatening letter eh?

After each one of these crappy service experiences in relation to sorting out Dad’s affairs, I keep hoping it’s the last and I keep being proved wrong. To be honest I feel a little awkward keeping writing about them but the truth is, the vast majority of these businesses I’m interacting with seem to be incapable of delivering a timely, accurate, and dare I say it sensitive service. They clearly don’t talk with and listen to customers when designing these experiences and the end results speak for themselves.

I wish I’d had the foresight to ask Gassy how he felt about the whole thing, after all it must be pretty crap being trained to deliver something so unhelpful and unsatisfying, no? I expect he may have exploded.


The Good The Bad and The Ugly

The Good The Bad The Ugly - You Decide Which is Which!
The Good The Bad The Ugly – You Decide Which is Which!

Wow! I had a weird fifteen minute burst of three very different customer experiences today.

The Ugly

I was contacted by International Business Development Group. They are running a business event on engagement in November and wondered if I would like to attend? It quickly became clear that there would be costs associated with this and though I kept asking for more information about these “associated costs”, all I got in response was more sales pitch on why this thing was such a must attend event. The pitch rapidly got harder and harder and the crux of the matter, yup, those “associated costs” seemed to get further and further away. After my umpteenth interjection I was told that I could attend this event for an investment of only £14,500. Game over – but even then I couldn’t stop the sales pitch. In the end I had to get quite direct and hung up, after letting the person know that’s what I was about to do. Hard Selling – Ugly.

The Bad

Within seconds the phone rang again. This time it was British Gas, they had some information for me. The information was about reduced gas prices. I’ve been contacted many times by British Gas and each time I politely ask them to mark my records – no phone contact. The lady from British Gas was polite enough but I know where to go to find out about gas prices thanks very much. If I want you – I’ll call you. Poor Record Keeping – Bad.

The Good

After the two phone calls I needed to take my frustration out on something. So I did a quick blast of vacuuming with my Dyson DC23 Animal. It’s a beast of a machine and sucks up pretty much everything in its path – yeah! Two minutes in the turbine head gave out with a satisfying mechanical BANG! I phoned Dyson and within a minute I was speaking with the customer service team – they’ve ordered me a new turbine head and it will be with me in around five days, free of charge. Listening, Understanding, Responding – Good.

I dread to think what passes for sales training at IBDG. I wish British Gas would take notice of my request. I love the customer service experience delivered by Dyson.