A couple of years ago I was searching Price Comparison websites for cheaper Electricity as we had Economy 7 Storage Heaters in the Council property we live in making it far too expensive to run as we are Pensioners.
In the middle of my "Search",I received a phonecall from an agent who was working on behalf of NPower I was led to believe anyway!
He was throwing numbers in the air and left me reeling with savings here,there and everywhere.
After a good 45 minutes I was so confused that I had no idea what the hell was going on and to get shot of him signed up with EDF,on the proviso that I had a cooling off period of 7/10 days where I could make sense of the actual details when it came in the post.
It didn't arrive,and I was passed on to EDF from NPower who sent me a few "Sorry your leaving us" missives.
As I never saw anything in B/W,I told my old supplier to restart the supply immediately as I hadn't seen anything in writing from EDF,and therefore this made it an Erroneous Transfer.
In the end,I would be charged for withdrawing from the contract with EDF,becCold Calling...Interesting but not so funny!ause the transfer hadn' t been cancelled!
I ended up staying with EDF rather than get penalised.
Today,I received a phonecall from someone to do with electricity supplies and "Tony" called me by my first name asking me the same old rubbish on "how are you",you sound really well since the last time we spoke!"
Cautiously,I half hearted listened to what he had to say,but to be honest he would have got more response from the outhouse wall as I have the Flu and am into my fourth week of being unwell,so I can't be bothered can I?He reckoned that the cost of Energy had risen yet again and he could save me a "Packet!"
Numbers were bandied about again,and he was quick to say I would be entitled to a £100 Voucher for any holiday within the next 2 years as long as it was was with Abta or Atol,which means zilch to me as we haven't had a holiday in years!
He went on to tell me about his girlfriend who is suffering from Flu also,and was full of sympathy when discovering I had had it twice as long as his "girlfriend,
"Tony" asked me for bank details on which he could "Take £54" for admin and gave me my banking details or at least the last 2 digits of BA and Sort Code!
"Cynthia,he said,how would you like to pay this today?"
My response was that "I wouldn't like to pay this at any time today or any other time for that matter because you called me,I never asked for a call back,I haven't even done any research for one reason,and thats because we have just had Gas put to the property so couldn't do a comparison anyway,were still awaiting our first Gas bill!
So please people,if someone called "Tony" calls from an Energy Supplier of sorts with the phone number 0871 701 5500,tries to tie you in knots with number crunching,let him chat to his hearts content,go and make yourself a cuppa,grab a biscuit and then tell him to "Get Lost in the nicest possible way!"
Cold Calling is Bad News and these people are just downright "Third Party" Thieves.
Maybe having the Flu has made me extra cautious,who knows?
I have used a couple of energy suppliers over the last 9 years and have always had combined services from them having them supply both my gas and electric to my property,
The most recent change i made was from british gas to eon.
My reason for chaging was that i pay for my gas and electric in advance of the bill arriving, not on a pre payment meter but by a plastic payment card at the post office, i have to pay a set amount each week to cover my useage and that means that by the time my bill arrives it is already paid for.
This was working realy well for me with british gas but as they set up two accounts for you one for gas and the other for electric and give you a set amount to pay onto each it was constantly meaning that my gas account was always realy high in credit but my electric account was always in arrears when the bills arrived, i asked them to adjust this but they never would and every year the amount i payed on my gas card kept increasing as did the electric one untill i ended up £1600 in credit with my gas account, they told me they couldnt refund this as it was to cover the higher usage in the winter months so continued to demand payments so i decided it was time to change companys.
Wholst looking around for a company to change to i was looking for one that would combine my two bills together so i could make one weekly payment to be covering both my bills, eon were the only company doing this so i opted to join up with them.
I have heard a lot of bad press about eon being expensive but thought i would give them a go and seen as there web site shows you a graph of your yearly useage and british gas does the same i could compare the two.
My useage with them has remained the same and wholst i will admitt there have been a few decreases in price over the last twelve months my bills are no higher than they were with british gas so i cannot complain.
I have one card to pay on each week that comes off the grand total of both the bills and isnt split to a % off each bill so this works out great for me as any credit left in the summer quarters will help towards the winter ones that are obviously higher without it meaning they have my money sitting there for a long time waiting to be used like my gas account was with british gas.
The customer services at eon are great and they have never caused me any problems so for anyone like me who uses a lot of one fuel and not a lot of the other i would thoroughly recomend then.
In the past I have lived in rented accommodation and every property I have lived in there has always been a clause in the tenant's contract stipulating that the tenant cannot change the utilities provider with express prior permission from the landlord and this has to be in writing. A lot of work for such little gain so I never bothered despite being with what is, so I have been told, one of the most expensive energy suppliers in the UK. I refer to e.on.
When I bought my first property, just over a year ago, the energy supplier was and at the moment still is e.on. Any problems I have had in the past have always been dealt with satisfactorily although I had always been on hold for over half an hour (although I found this the case with Anglian Water, the Norfolk County Council and BT) so I thought why change.
Well the reason to change arrived in last nights post. Whilst I have always had a credit balance on my combined gas and electricity account, and it is currently in credit by a substantial amount I have been told my monthly direct debit payment is to increase by 42.1% to £54 from £38.
To me the maths did not add up. I was in credit by £112.44 for the next quarter I would be paying £162 so my estimated bill for the next quarter is going to be nearly £275. This was ridiculous. My current bill is £103 for the quarter just ended. Whilst I appreciated it was now winter and it was going to be darker for longer and the temperature is going to decrease a quarterly increase of 267% seemed way off the mark.
Naturally I called e.on to discuss the matter. The operative confirmed that there had been two energy price increases in the year amounting to a total of around 40%. I quickly worked out that my next bill, at current consumption, would be around £145 so I would still have a huge credit balance.
The operative stated that it was now the "most expensive" quarter due to it being winter and that everything had been considered in the increase in monthly payment, including my current credit balance. The operative was very rude, condescending and spoke to me like I was an absolute idiot.
I disagreed with the estimated bill (I know I can minimise costs and actively try to do so and admittedly could probably do more) and suggested a compromise of keeping the monthly payment the same and leaving the credit balance and then reviewing the situation at the end of next quarter. This was turned down flat. I was told the payment would increase and there was nothing I could do about it.
I reluctantly accepted this and requested my £112.44 back. After all, this is my money in e.on's account earning them interest when it could be in my account working for me. I appreciate that it is not much but I am sure that there are thousands of e.on customers who, just like me, are running at credit balance as a result of being over charged on their monthly direct debits. The only reason I pay by direct debit is to take advantage of the savings, which after checking my bill amount to £2 per quarter. Is this really worth it?
I was told that my bank account will be credited within 5 - 7 working days. In normal circumstances transfers take 3 working days. I queried this and was told quite abruptly "that's how long it takes".
After the 40 odd minute conversation of putting my view across and with the outcome I was fuming. They had £112 of mine yet they still wanted to take even more when my estimated bill would easily be covered with my current payment plan leaving them with even more of my money. With the credit crunch biting times are hard and it is important to maintain a close eye on finances.
It was a few hours after, whilst in bed actually, that I thought more and more about the situation. I was only with e.on because:
1)I have always been with them (though not through my choice, until recently)
2)I have never had to change supplier and would not know how to
3)I have never had too many problems with them
4)My partner gets club card points
Now I have the choice to move and changing suppliers, as I have subsequently discovered, is not too big an issue. With the comparison sites it is quick and easy to compare suppliers and I can access reviews about each one on many internet sites.
As for the Tesco club card points, that was going to be a hard one to sort out with my partner, until I realised that we get 114 per quarter which amounts to very little considering the money we would be saving by changing to a cheaper supplier.
My mind was made up. I cancelled the direct debit immediately (you've got to love midnight internet banking - you all know my views on this!) and it was a great feeling.
The arrogant, unhelpful, rude, condescending e.on operator had just lost them a customer. If my compromise had been accepted or I had been treated nicely I would definitely have stayed, if not for the easy life of not having to search around for an alternative supplier. But c'est la vie.
From this I have learned that when you do have a 'proper' issue or complain e.on's customer services are diabolical. If e.on's training policy results in operatives like the one I spoke to then they really need to have a re-think. In addition, I have found out that e.on are definitely not the cheapest dual fuel supplier around and that there are far cheaper, and according to reviews better ones, out there. I have also learned not to be so lazy and content with current suppliers.
Rant over. Thanks for reading and I hope it has been of some use informing you of some of e.ons flaws.
On a finishing note, you'd have thought I would have learned to seek out alternative suppliers given my review on the internet and how it has changed my life. Maybe I need to update it for this experience.
I moved into my new house 18 months ago and had both the gas and electric utilities switched to yorkshire electricity, which is part of the npower group, as my parents had always been with them without any problems. I set-up budget accounts for both gas and electricity and I settled in to domestic bliss. Paying over the odds on the budget account, so as to be well in credit, I was shocked to receive an electric bill showing I was £15 in debit and as anyone else would do, contacted the company straight away. All power companies are the same these days and estimate your bills, as they don't employ enough meter readers to read the meters every month in the way the nationalised servvices used to, which is the first indicator of a poorer less efficient service. They asked me to take 3 meter readings over 3 weeks (one per week), which I did. When I phoned them 3 weeks later with the readings, the felt as I did that the meter seemed to be recording increased useage every week, a clear indication of a meter fault. They arranged to send out a man to test the meter for accuracy, the earliest appointment was made for 3 weeks later. The day arrived and the meter man showed up and read the meter, but explained he had only been alloted 4 minutes to take a reading, not to test the meter. I phoned up yorkshire who explained there had obviously been an error and explained it would need to be rebooked for a further 3 weeks. I refused and called their complaints line and told them what had happened. I ended up speaking to some disinterested, snot-nosed teenager in a call-centre, who had the audacity to tell me that I would be charged in excess of £30 for a man to test the meter. I asked him who was going to pay my lost wages for having wasted the day expecting my meter to be tested, when all that happened was a reading due to a customer services cock-up. He was unable to resolve the i
ssue (doubt he could register what day it was), so I informed him I was going to take my business elsewhere. I have now been in touch with another supplier and am switching both my Gas and Electric over to someone else. If anyone reading these reviews is a director of a power company, then try realising that people do not want to wait 30+ minutes to speak with customer services on the phone and when they finally do get through, they want a human being with a brain at the other end who has even an inckling of common-sense and professionalism. In short, avoid yorkshire electricity like the plague.
I work in one of the many dreaded ‘call centres’ for a national gas and electricity supplier. Although I’m writing from this experience, I think you can apply the general principles to any call centre operation – banking/finance, telecoms, mail order shopping, etc. At some point everyone (except the really lucky!) has cause to complain, and what I basically intend to do is advise, from my experience, how best to do this and get an acceptable resolution. - Method of communication – Your first point of contact is likely to be the person at the other end of the phone. Whilst they will no doubt try to resolve your problem, it’s worth noting that they will generally have a set time that they are allocated for each call, eg 2 minutes. So if it’s a quick query this is fine, like amending the name on the account or correcting your billing tariff, but if it’s a bit more complicated, don’t expect miracles. You’d be better off writing. If you contact by letter you will almost certainly get more attention and a better chance of resolution first time. Energy suppliers are obliged to provide a 5 day turnaround on written correspondence, which will be answered by staff who therefore have substantially more time to sort out whatever the problem may be. It varies from one company to the next, but as a rule, I would suggest taking the time to write a real letter rather than sending an email. Access to external email is very limited within call centres and therefore your complaint is less likely to be logged as ‘written correspondence’ and dealt with accordingly. - What to say – Firstly and most importantly make sure that your letter is legible and has the correct name and address or account number on it. It sounds obvious but you’d be surprised! It’s particularly important to include the relevant details if you’
;re writing on behalf of someone else, for example an elderly relative. If the person reading your letter can’t decipher your writing or identify who you are, you can’t really expect them to be able to help. Secondly, give a brief description and history of the problem, and how you’d like it resolved. This will save time in the long run. Thirdly, don’t be abusive or unpleasant. Sarcastic or offensive letters only put the person reading it on the defensive and you’re aiming for a sympathetic response. However don’t ham it up, for example if your bill’s very high it’s not really relevant that you’ve just had a family bereavement. The person reading your complaint will be more sympathetic if you’re honest and straightforward about the problem in hand and don’t think you’re just out for compensation. The general idea is to imagine yourself as the person who’s reading the letter, it’s your job and you’ve probably seen this problem several times before. Resolution is basically an objective thing – there’s a problem so how can it be fixed? Anything further to that, eg a goodwill gesture, is discretionary. - Goodwill and compensation – There’s a difference. Compensation is generally only awarded if you’ve actually suffered financial loss. For example, if you’ve had to make numerous phone calls (but don’t expect reimbursement for Freephone calls!) or had a bank charge because of a billing error. Goodwill is a payment or gesture that the person dealing with your complaint feels is appropriate, and will ultimately be an investment for the company. So, if you’re in the process of transferring your supplies to another supplier, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll get £50 because that money simply won’t be made back in your future custom. Bear in mind
also that goodwill is not dependent on your income, for example, £15 to a pensioner is a lot more than it would be to a solicitor, but the level of goodwill payments won’t be affected by your individual circumstances. In most utilities, the independent regulator will have stipulated ‘penalty payments’ for specific failures in service. The company should produce a customer service leaflet that details these. For example, if you wrote a letter and had heard nothing back within 5 working days, in the energy industry you’d be eligible for £20. Check the smallprint though because companies have an incredible way of justifying non-payment. - People are people – Be aware that although you may have had an appalling experience with The Company, the person answering your points is not The Company, just someone that works for it. And they are probably even more critical of The Company than you are. Don’t be offensive to individuals, they’re trying to do the best they can within the parameters set out by The Company. People who end up working with complaints tend to take their job very seriously and have a genuine commitment to helping people (believe it or not!), and you won’t get very far if you undermine their efforts before you’ve even given them a chance. If you’re pleasant and appear to be co-operative you will generally get brilliant service. If you do, keep hold of the person’s name and number and if you have problems in the future go straight back to them. If you’ve had really exceptional service from them, please take the time to write a note just to say thanks – there’s no financial benefit but it will be massively appreciated. (Think of it like a Crown but without the £1.50!) - Indirect contact – If all this sounds like too much hard work, you can contact a variety of external agencies who will make the compla
int on your behalf. These include the Citizens Advice Bureau, the regulator, and your MP. The best of these is the regulator as they have infinitely more clout than either of the other two. For energy suppliers, this is energywatch (consumer branch of OFGEM), who have various regional offices. You can contact them via the website www.energywatch.org.uk, which also gives their central phone number and address. - Summing up – ~Remember the ‘do as you would be done by’ approach. A small investment of your good nature will bring much better returns than wasting your energy by screaming insults down the phone! ~Be reasonable – don’t DEMAND goodwill gestures. ~Give them time to sort it out. But if they’re dragging their feet, pester them. They’ll want to sort it out even quicker if they know you’re going to be phoning them every hour. ~Accept their limitations – not everyone will know how everything works and they may not be able to address every problem themselves. Equally, make sure you’re complaining to the correct people; if you’re computer’s packed up it may not be because workmen were digging up the road, it might be that your computer is faulty. Also, for gas problems, energy suppliers will not be able to call out their own engineers. Work to gas supplies or meters is carried out by the transporter (for most homes this is Transco) so there’s no point ranting at your energy company if they didn’t turn up when expected – the staff are likely to be cursing Transco too. I’m not making an apology for bad service, I agree it shouldn’t happen but this requires much greater investment from The Companies involved in terms of staffing levels, training, etc. What I’ve tried to do is explain how to complain most effectively, so if something does go wrong, at least you’ll be better prepared whe
n you try to get it sorted out. Unfortunately, everyone makes mistakes from time to time, and it’s not realistic to expect a body of people to be perfect just because they work for your energy supplier, or bank, or in any service sector company. The primary concern for everyone should be simply getting the problem sorted, and the best way to do this is to foster personal commitment from whoever ends up trying to untangle the mess! Hope this helps…
Eastern Energy – now known as TXU energi, one of the world’s leading companies with millions of customers worldwide, mainly in Europe, the USA and Australia. They are one of the UK’s biggest companies with over 5 million customers in the UK alone! They also the largest trader of energy in the UK: and the fourth largest generator of power. They have series of sponsorships including Ipswich Town football club; and the Blackpool illuminations. Eastern energy merged with Norweb and the company became T X U energi. So when a energy-seller knocked on my door from them (yet another one should I say?) –promising they could save me money on my energy bills- I thought why not? Foolishly, I invited the man into my home to explain the details and sign me up. He assured me that T X U energy could save me around £40 a year on my combined gas and electricity bills. Since the ‘privatisation’ of the power industry I have seen many sales people from all sorts of companies asking me to change. All the time, I had said a firm no! I was quite happy with British Gas, and even though they might not of been the cheapest supplier they had at least proved reliable – and I had had no complaints! And besides I could change to company 1 one week and in week 2 another company would promise me even further saving – there is no end of companies out there after all. Convinced I agreed to sign up with T X U energy. A simple form was completed in minutes. Just a case of: name and address, and who my energy supplier was currently. Bingo! I was signed up! He told me within two weeks I would hear from the company, explaining the procedure and telling us what happens next! It was painless apparently – T X U energi took care of everything! The next two and half weeks were spent on holiday in Scotland and the Lake District, where the sun shone and the skies were blue, (in my dreams that is- bu
t that’s another story). Convinced when I got back there would be a letter from T X U, we opened the door….and to my astonishment there was a thousand letters (999 of which were junk mail), but nothing from TXU. I left it a further three weeks or so and rung the company up and got the following response: “I don’t know why you haven’t had any contact, or indeed why the change over hasn’t happened. I will get in touch with our sales department and they WILL ring you back!”. I waited a further month or two and having NOT received the promised phone call (a real bug bear of mine), I decided that I would explode in an email. I put my point and opinion over firmly but politely, and was told that a reply could be expected within 48 hours! You’ve guessed – as the Diana Ross song goes “I’m still waiting”. Having had just about enough of ‘chasing them up’ I wrote a letter informing them of my decision to cancel my account (on 26/8/2001) and return to British Gas. I have yet to receive a response from the company. So if you like bad service, un-kept promises, lies, for the sake of £40 a year then this is the company you should go with. Otherwise stay put. £40 a year works out to 77/78 pence a week – is it worth the hassle? I think not! www.easternengry.co.uk www.txuenergi.co.uk 08457 551 551
This opinion outlines my experience in changing over to a dual-fuel supplier, in this case, NPower, but I guess what I am about to say could apply to others. I recently threw my lot in with National Power for gas and electricity, dumping Southern Electric and BG North Thames. At the time, the figures for "dual supplier" deals looked good, although I never take anyone else's rule of thumb opinion at face value, since they never seem prepared to use any readings you might have, and we are just two people living in a 4-bedroom house. Probably, their door-to-door sign-up target is too tight to allow for smart-arse customers like me wanting to chew the fat. I told them that I was perfectly capable of working out the pros and cons and would get back in touch with them if I felt it justified it. (Being a bit nifty with Excel spreadsheets also helps, and this ploy works with a lot of salespeople!) Anyway, even my figures looked good, and so I signed up. This operation went smoothly, except for the “weepy” goodbye letters from BG and SE. Then BG announced that they are dropping their standing charges. However, this doesn't alter the fact that their units still cost more. I can only assume that I am one of those low/medium users who does not benefit either way, because, when I reworked my figures, it transpired that I had changed suppliers all for 16p a month in savings! Having said that, NPs customer service seemed very nice to talk to, but then, BG and SE were OK too. Confused? I am. I will definitely be keeping up my spreadsheet of readings up to date, and keeping au fait with each party’s tariffs, just in case the gap widens from 16p! This all goes to show just what a minefield tariffs are, and that everyone seems to have a different way of presenting them, to hide the fact that no-one is any cheaper than anyone else in general. It just depends
if your own usage profile fits in with a particular company’s way of charging.
I have recently transferred my gas and electricity from British Gas to Scottish Power and have been amazed at the amount of saving I've been able to generate. Not only do they now claim the payment for both gas and electricity in one direct debit payment from my bank accoount, but they also have managed to slice nearly a third off the totally annual costs for the two services combined. I'm very impressed at their efficiency in getting things set up - something which totally demoralised me about the way in which we transferred our original electricity over to British Gas some years ago. In all, I would recommend to everybody to consider changing to them. You can sign up on line over the website as well - again a vast improvement on the way things have had to be done in the past - and they are genuinely friendly and welcoming to you when you need to query something about your bill, or the setting up of your service. A definite thumbs up from me!
My friend told me about a firm called Bill Cutters who had saved her money on her gas and electricity bills. So I phoned them to ask about their services. I arranged for one of their consultants to come to my house to see me the following day. They asked me to have my last gas and electricity bills ready for them. The consultant arrived the following day and explained to me that their service was free and I didnt have to agree to take their advice on cutting the cost of my bills. From my last quarterly bills of £100.07 electric and £238.00 gas I could save £15 on my electric and £37.00 on my gas, if I was signed up with Bill Cutters. A saving of £52 for that quarter. (I could be spending that in the pub!) I agreed to sign up for this company so the consultant asked if he could take my bills with him as he needed a photocopy of them and he would call back at an arranged date and time with contracts filled in ready to sign and my original bills. I arranged this meeting for the following day and how easy it was. He explained how to cancel the agreements if I changed my mind, check what I was signing, a couple of signatures and I was changed over to Bill Cutters in 28 days. By the time my second Bill Cutters bills came I was verging on becoming a member of the AA(alcoholics annonymous) because of the savings I had made(drunk) Update 23/08/01 Bill Cutters has now gone out of business,due to them not paying their own bills lol. They did not pay any of their consultants the commissions that were due to them either. Any contracts signed with this company are still valid and will still run, as they are signed with the actual suppliers not Bill Cutters. After it had gone into liquidation the company has been bought and is now trading as Bill Cutters UK. There is still no commissions being paid to their agents however and the main staffing structure is still the same. Although the savings they can make are good I don't r
ate this companys' chances of survival.
Hypocritical or What.... Just had a missive from my local energy supplier SWEB, in it they are saying "Don't believe the sales patter - you're better off with SWEB". They are warning people about the sales tactics of other companies saying you would be better off with them and not to be fooled. The advice given on sales pater is : There is no standing charge, you only pay for what you use - means we've put the unit price of your gas and electric. We're giving away a bottle of wine/vouchers when you sign up - means you'll pay for it in other ways. Who are you with? I can guarrantee you'll save if you switch to us - means I'm comparing our cheapest package with their most expensive tariff, whether it's relevant to you or not. I'm only in the area tonight - means sign up now I'm on commission. All your neighbours have signed up already - means come on, I want your commission. Sorry, we've run out of leaflets - means if I leave you to think about it, you won't sign up. It then goes on to say next time there's a knock on the door, ask : What's your combined gas and electricity price for the average customer? How much is your unit price for gas? Do I get a continuous annual discount with you? Now while I applaud the above advice, I feel it is very hypocritical as SWEB have used the same tactics they now decry. Me thinks the competition is hitting their profits, Ah... the truth.... David John Every
Having just spent the whole of last week moving into new premises I can only but (well at the moment anyway!!) write my praises for Eastern Energy. Of all the utility providers they were by far the most efficient. I called to explain that we were moving gave them dates and also explained that the property had an electric card meter which I would want removing as I prefered to pay by monthly direct debit. (by paying monthly direct debit it entitles you to a 5% discount). The operator took alll the details was very friendly and professional, and an appointment was made for the engineer to call the day I moved! Fantastic (as I had to wait a week for the phone !! but thats another dooyoo opinion there!!!). The engineer turned up on the day, changed the meter and helped me with a few queries I had with the heaters. As they were so efficient it actually made me transfer my gas service to them as well. The direct debit was set up for my gas service over the telephone and everything seems to be working fine. The main advantage with Eastern Energy is that a lot of services can be provided on the web. You can pay bills, give meter readings, set up new services etc etc. The bills are presented in a clear and easy to understand layout, which shows you all your costs and how much you have paid by your direct debit payments. The helpline is a local call rate number with the recorded message giving you the various options clear and easy to understand.
Have you noticed that when a section of roadway is re-surfaced, almost immediately another crew comes along and digs it up again. Although I know it is essential to repair or renew existing services. No consideration is given to the "POOR" motorist, who uses the road everyday. Wouldn’t it be nice, and even practical for the local authorities to confer with such bodies as the electricity, water, gas and telecommunication companies. I am sure that they could find out from these other authorities when and where any scheduled work is to be carried out, on a particular stretch of road. If they could agree to have repair and renewal work to be done just before the resurfacing .I am sure this would lead to less delays for the motorist, and provide a better road surface for a longer period of time.