Friday, 20 May 2011

Utilities not being utilitarian.

To give you an idea of what I do with my spare time. I enjoy concocting letters to lairy utility companies.

Dear Steve (Hayfield).

I have on a number of occasions tried to get in touch via your 'Contact Us' page by email to ascertain the bank account details where I can deposit my final bill payment with EDF, to date I've received no response other than a letter inviting me to phone your call centre. Unfortunately I suffer from a largely unreported allergy called Acute Call Centre Dyspathy, symptoms are brought on by call centre-based telephone conversations and numerical decision making and appear in the form of uncontrollable verbal outbursts, anger management problems and erotic hallucinations. (If I'm being honest, I don't mind the latter but I need to have the candles set out in advance.)

I've also had a number of phone calls from a computer which claims to be working for EDF, two things here, firstly, I asked it to confirm who it was for security purposes but it didn't answer, secondly it then went on to refer to itself as 'I' several times which to me is very creepy and puts me in mind of HAL from 2001 A Space Odyssey and a previously repressed memory of a childhood incident with a Speak & Spell machine.

I have your letter in front of me advising I can pay at a 'paypoint' machine, I think I've seen these in shops around town but have avoided them due to the long lines of unwashed people waiting to buy powercards, at the risk of coming over as a snob, I don't really identify with that social demographic so don't see why I should stand near them in a shop, also, I have a good internet connection in the parlour so can pay via that method if...

...You could supply me with bank account details into which it can be paid, I know you have bank accounts because yours is a big company, I also know even although EDF is French owned, France has banks and bank accounts too, indeed, a prominent French banker is currently in the news, it seems he is having similar problems to me in-so-far as he was also having trouble making a deposit.

Finally, please do not instruct your Collection Management Team to contact me as the allergic reactions I described above will surely kick in, I'm currently working in a very public place so could be in trouble with my employers on the very rare off-chance I could answer the phone during the day. Of course, if someone from that team were to send bank details via email, I could pick that up and make payment as soon as this evening leaving any potential call centre phone calls purely for personal entertainment purposes.

In any case, I look forward to your email response and at this time; reaffirm my intention to pay this bill as soon as you can provide those bank details.

Votre sincèrement

Update 24/05/11

I did get a letter from another person at EDF (not the Collection Management Team.) I replied asking if any of the signatories to these letters were real people or just constructs manufactured to make us believe the staff at EDF didn't just count money and listen to people curse while listening to The Girl from Ipanema for the eighth time while waiting for a non- existent operative to deal with their call.

Dear Mr Brown

Thank you for your email please be assured that Steve and I do exist and are both concerned when we receive emails like yours.

The details you are asking for can be found on the back of our bills but I also detail them below;

EDF Energy account No. 40951056 Sort code 40-05-30 please ensure you quote your energy account No. to ensure the correct posting of your money. In the meantime I will make sure that no further action is taken until your payment is received.

Please accept my apologies for the obvious frustration that you have experienced.

Richard Browning

There you go, I'm somewhat mollified but still think utility companies exist mostly to frustrate us all.

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Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?