I’ve learned to become reasonably patient with the customer service departments of assorted multinational corporations I invariably have to deal with from time to time. Having done similar jobs when I was a student, I know that a) the job is usually crap; and b) customers getting angry and giving grief doesn’t usually solve anything quickly. Usually it doesn’t take more than a couple of calls to sort the problem out and mobile phone providers, banks and even NTL got there eventually (only just with the last one, but they were always polite and reasonably helpful).
I am, however, rapidly running out of patience with British Gas. Their customer service ranks up their with the very worst.
The situation is thus. In my house we have a boiler. Said boiler has thrown a hissy fit whereby it will no longer provide hot water unless the whole heating system is on in the house – radiators, the lot. In hot weather this means the house becomes a sauna if you want to do something like, ooh, the washing up, or have a shower.
I have been living in a sauna for the past week.
This problem hadn’t passed us by and about a month ago I called out British Gas to do a combined safety check and fix the boiler. Unfortunately the man they sent out hadn’t been informed he was meant to fix the boiler and, after having a quick poke about, concluded there was something reasonably major wrong and would need the right tools and more time. He was very pleasant about it all though, and fitted a carbon monoxide detector, so we didn’t die. Which was nice.
From here my housemate took up the reigns and tried to arrange somebody to come back and fix the boiler. They didn’t turn up.
Housemate then rearranges an appointment. This time they turn up but at the wrong time, when nobody is in.
The boiler’s still not fixed by this stage, but we’re slowly getting a working sauna.
Housemate rings up for a third time. At this stage, he’s told they do evening visits. Which would have been nice to know beforehand so he didn’t have to take a couple of days off work to wait for Godot the gasman. But anyway, a third visit was duly arranged for last night.
No gasman. Not even a hint of a gasman.
At this point, housemate becomes frustrated and passes on the organisation to Housemate 2, least he utter unpleasant four letter words at the customer service bod at the other end of the phone.
Housemate 2 rings British Gas to arrange another evening or weekend appointment only to be told British Gas don’t do evening or weekend appointments.
Housemate 2 rings landlady to find a convenient time for her to ‘house sit’ the gasman.
Housemate 2 re-rings British Gas and is offered an evening or weekend appointment but with a day already agreed with the landlady, and with levels of Schrodinger-like doubt as to the existence of these evening or weekend appointments, duly passes on this offer.
So, we have the landlady popping over to our house on Friday waiting for a British Gas boiler fixer who may or may not turn up, or even exist, such is the existential nature of their service. I hope she’s impressed I strimmed the lawn last weekend
Fortunately our landlady has a service plan with British Gas, so we’ve not had to pay anything. But if I was her, I’d be somewhat miffed that I’m paying this money for somebody not to turn up. If I wanted to spend money on somebody doing that, I’d pay it direct to Kate Bush or some other reclusive celebrity.
It’s not the first time I’ve had problems with British Gas. When I tried to swop suppliers in a different house a few years ago, British Gas seemed to have a problem letting go of me and continued to bill me, despite another utility company also sending me bills. When this was pointed out to British Gas, their response was to send us letters with lots of red on it, warning us of dire consequences if we didn’t pay our bill.
So, I await Friday with baited breath, and whether or not my breath gets sufficiently baited on Friday, I’m going to suggest to the landlady to switch accounts to a company that actually knows what its doing and has employees that actually exist.