What? It wasn’t the Halloween Costumes or the Fireworks being let off on Guy Fawkes night, it was Scottish Power, your Electricity and Gas supplier that gave you the biggest shock? Let me allow the story to unfold.
Tuesday 4th November
I sit at my computer and decide to check my bank account online. As I take a sip of tea, my teeth almost drop out due to my mouth almost hitting the floor. Is that a minus sign I see next to the figure telling me how much I have in my account? Oh no, have I been the victim of a scam or has somebody been able to hack into my bank account and withdrawn a large amount of money which has led me to being overdrawn? My eyes scan the statement on full view to me on my computer screen and I see the words “Scottish Power Direct Debit £5,889.32.”
I’m all of a panic now and start asking myself questions. Did I leave the heating on full blast all summer? Has somebody managed to tap into the gas supply pipe coming into my house and steal all the gas coming through? Have I been paying for the heating bills of the folks in the Southern Hemisphere, where Winter has just bid a fond farewell? I shake my head and tell myself to stay calm, make myself another cup of tea, and to gather the evidence showing this is, surely, a very big mistake.
As I take one last sniff of the smelling salts, I log on to my Scottish Power account and start my detective work. It wasn’t very long before I spot the mistake. An incorrect meter reading has been entered on my account, resulting in a huge gas bill beyond belief. But why, I ask myself, has nobody spotted the mistake at Scottish Power? The reading had been entered on 3rd October 2014, the statement was dated 21st October 2014 and the Direct Debit payment had been taken on 3rd November 2014. Surely somebody at Scottish Power would have noticed there was a huge gas bill coming my way and that, despite the fact that they had doubled the Direct Debit amount they were taking from me based on estimated readings, and that my account was always in credit, how could one small house now have used nearly six thousands pounds worth of gas in three months during Summer?
My hands are shaking when I pick up the phone and dial the number for Scottish Power and, as I wait to be put through to an agent, stress starts to set in. I finally get through to an agent, lets call her A shall we, and tell her my concern. Now it takes A quite a while to offer any kind of apology and it takes her quite a long time to find the problem. In fact A does not seem to be too concerned about the whole thing at all and, by the time I have to tell A that an incorrect meter reading has been entered by somebody at Scottish Power, she is still acting the ‘Ice Queen’ with me. She is not shocked by the error at all and tells me to contact my bank and ask them to recall the direct debit and in the meantime she will take the correct gas meter reading from me, arrange for a new bill to be made available on my account within 48 hours and asks if I want to raise a complaint?
“Now let me think about that A, do I want to raise a complaint about the fact that Scottish Power has taken almost six thousand pounds from me in error? Well go on then” I say, “let’s get a complaint raised just for fun, shall we?”
As I imagine A going back to Narnia, I ring my bank, who are as shocked as I am that my gas bill is nearly six thousand pounds, but they promise to recall the direct debit and say the money will be back in my account by 8pm that evening. I then get on with the rest of my day.
Thursday 6th November
I receive an email from Scottish Power advising me there is an important message from them waiting for me, and to log into my account to read it. ‘Hooray’, I think, they have refunded me the money, issued me with an up to date gas bill, and are giving me an apology. How wrong am I? I click on the message and my eyes are met with a message from Scottish Power to say that they are going to attempt to take again, £5,889.32 I owe them by direct debit on 17th November. Not only that, but if my bank refuses to pay them the direct debit, then it would be my responsibility to pay them £5,889.23 in full! Smelling salts are needed again and I run around the house as if it were on fire as I try to gather up as many of my possessions as possible. “It’s all a joke” I think, “it’s an April Fool’s joke” but the calendar tells me otherwise.
This time I get through to a different agent, lets call him B shall we? He asks what the problem is and I tell him about the email message I’ve just received from Scottish Power. He has to read it and is not quite sure what the problem is.
“Are there any notes on your screen about the call I made on Tuesday?” I ask.
“Hold on” he says. I wait, wondering if A is back from Narnia. “Yes, you’ve raised a complaint” says B, “computer says our customer service team is scheduled to call you on 18th November”.
“Wow, so I have to wait, like, ten working days to talk to somebody about my complaint?” I ask.
“Afraid so” replies B.
To cut a rather long story short, I then explain my whole complaint to B who, unlike A, was very shocked that I’d been sent a gas bill for nearly six thousand pounds. It transpires that A had not reversed my bill, resulting in me getting the message that Scottish Power are having another go to get £5,889.32 off me by Direct Debit. It seems all A has done, is to raise a complaint for me. She’d gone back on her promise to reverse the original bill, obviously wanting me to suffer just like any “Ice Queen” from Narnia would. B immediately reverses the bill for me then and there.
“I’m delighted to tell you your account is now £292 in credit, Mr Roberts”.
“Hold on, so Scottish Power owe me money?” I ask. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, we owe you £292 and it will be paid into your account within the next fourteen days”.
So, to end this shocking story, I just want to thank Scottish Power for the following.
- For doubling my monthly direct debit based on their estimated readings. (I’m at the end of the phone and on email, guys, why not contact me for meter readings when it’s time to review my direct debit?)
- For not reducing my monthly direct debit when I gave them the correct meter readings, showing that my original monthly payments were adequate. (OK, so you all failed Maths at school, yeah?)
- For having a wonderful system that does not highlight any kind of ‘out of the ordinary billing’ or ‘meter reading entry’. (Do you need a fifty pence piece for the meter, so the system works again?)
- For not contacting me to advise there was a bill coming my way soon for nearly six thousand pounds even though my account had always been in credit with them. (I’m at the end of the phone and on email, guys. I’d love to hear from you, honestly, I do).
- For sending me no reminders that a bill was available to view on my account. (OK, it’s up to me to guess when a bill is available is it? What a great game).
- For taking nearly six thousands pounds from my bank account, resulting in me going very overdrawn and giving me the biggest shock of my life (even the nice people at my bank were shocked, glad they had smelling salts to hand).
- For employing a wonderful agent, known as the ‘Ice Queen’ by me, who showed no concern when I spoke to her and then went back on her promise to reverse my bill (you crack me up A, you should be employee of the month!).
- For sending me a message to say they were going to try to take £5,889.32 by direct debit from me again, two days after I had alerted them that this was an error (OK guys, I get it, it was a joke wasn’t it?)
- For taking my complaint so seriously that it only takes ten working days for somebody from their Customer Service team to contact me about my complaint. (Wow, you guys must be snowed under – I mean ten working days, really? Maybe you need to advertise for staff, help get the unemployment figures down?)
- For sending me a begging letter to stay with them when I decided it was time to switch supplier for a cheaper deal (Nice try guys, but I think I’ll deal with a company who knows how to treat customer properly).
I was going to write a poem for you guys at Scottish Power, but I’m afraid it takes me one-hundred and fourteen working days to write a poem. Beat that if you can!
Have a great weekend Scottish Power and thank you so much for making it a week I’ll always remember. Love ya!
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