Sunday, 18 September 2011

Ever Deficient Fools

Yes, yes, I know that EDF stands for Energy de France, but I am thinking they might need to rebrand and I am up for the task if they pay me enough. Actually, I'll do it for free...

Yesterday, I thought I'd pay the gas and electricity bill 'on-line'. You know, be 21st century trendy, go with the super-highway flow, deal with the task in the click of a button, hey presto, voila, all done, no standing in queues in the Post Office for me aha! After all, the whole 'manage you account on-line' malarkey has been developed for my consumer convenience. Hasn't it?

HA!! And double HA! HA!!!!!

Got an estimated bill a week ago. They always send estimated bills nowadays, despite their proclamation that they read a meter at least twice a year. So, because I REFUSE to let them have a penny more payment than we've used in fuel, I go on line to enter a proper set of readings for an accurate bill. This has always been easy. Not so now. I had to 'activate My Account - the new, improved service that will help me manage my doings with EDF easily, quickly and effectively.' So I did that. It involved giving them details I really didn't want to give because I know it will now generate a flood of unwanted marketing devices persuading me to do something else I don't want to do (generally sign up for Direct Debits/ Fixed Tariffs/ paying the national debt of France) because all I really want is for gas and electricity to turn up at the house and for me to pay for what we've used when we've used it.

So, having activated 'My Account' last week, and entered accurate readings, an accurate bill arrives and I go back on line to pay it.

I have to add more details. Then a pop-up from my bank wants me to create another secure password thingy so I can use my debit card. The debit card I've been using to pay bills on-line with for several years, but now they've decided they want to add more security and I can't continue to pay my bill until I've done so which entails giving more information which means more junk advertising mail coming my way.

So I do all that. The payment 'unfortunately' fails. 'Unfortunately???' Fortune has nothing to do with this, pal. It's incompetence, that's what it is. First they want my money, then they don't. And some how, it's all my fault for trying to do things their way.

I try ringing customer services. Apparently, they are experiencing a high call volume (Really? Never heard THAT one before), but a customer service advisor will be with me very soon. I pause now to sa 'HA!' again.

I give up with customer services when the feeling starts to go in my legs. In my mind, 'customer services' consists of some poor sixth form student holding the fort at the weekend, earning £3.25 an hour and longing for Monday morning when she can go back to college and study Double Applied Maths because it would be a darn sight easier than trying to answer 6,000 irate phone calls by herself.

I try the automated payment line. You know, the one where you have to shout account numbers at the phone and the automated lady-voice mishears them and you have to shout 'NO!' to stop her taking the entire contents of your bank account and she says, 'I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that - was it a second-class rail ticket to Wolverhampton you wanted, or two tickets to see 'Jane Eyre' at the Odeon, Leicester Square on the 52nd Fecktober?'

The automated payment line asks me to enter my account number. It then transfers me back to customer services where they are still experiencing a high call volume but it's okay, someone will be with me shortly.

I shout - 'DON'T CALL ME SHORTLY!' at the phone and hang up. Well, bang the receiver down. Andy prises the bill from my rigid fist; blood drips from my palms. A vein is throbbing in my forehead and someone far away is calling, 'It's okay - be calm - it's only a bill.'

Andy pays the bill through his debit card. His debit card, it seems, is acceptable to EDF, even though he is referred to on the bill as Mrs Andrew Hunt, which is something else I can't quite bring myself to waste a day of my life trying to get them to change.

This morning I check my e-mail. I have one from my bank. Thanking me for making a payment to EDF using their secure system, the password for which I have already forgotten because of the effects of the red mist, and it doesn't matter anyway because I'm never using it again because it's pants.

So I go to the EDF web-site to see if they have taken a payment from Andy AND a payment from me. But their web-site is currently closed for 'essential maintenance work' and won't open again until 8 a.m tomorrow, please try again then, thank you for your valuable custom.


Of course, you know what they're trying to do, don't you? They are trying to make my life so difficult that I will say, 'Sod it. I'll sign up for Direct Debit,' and then they'll gradually sneak up the payments each month so I end up paying for some new National Grid system in the back end of Bordeaux.

But I'm onto their plan. I'm not going to be caught out by their wily ways.

It's back to the Post Office for me. And Mrs Pumphrey is already working on a way to channel the wind from Mrs Slocombe as an eco-friendly gas supply, and the bees are building wax treadmills to run on during the Winter which will a) keep them warm, and b) power the generator for electricity.

I'm not giving in. I'm not.

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