Sledge-hammer. Telephone

I have an overwhelming urge to take a sledge-hammer to my telephone. This is what utility companies and their automated telephone systems reduces an ordinary woman to. I have chosen option 1. Using my telephone key pad I have entered the last 13 digits of my customer number. I have chosen option 3. I have then pressed 4. None of this takes me any closer to speaking to ANOTHER HUMAN BEING.

“Confirm your date of birth using your telephone key pad”. Why another layer of security added to the security questions I’m going to answer anyway? “Press the key that includes the third letter of your password.  The fifth letter”. What?! I fumble with a telephone which is a keypad and handset combined. Can I say the password? That, it turns out, would be some kind of security breach that would allow the person access to my details……. the details they have.

Confirm the first line of your address and postcode. *sigh*.

Moving home has brought me into phone contact with a range of utility companies. Old ones, new ones.
Some utility companies seem to hide the information on ‘moving home’ and make it as difficult as possible. Meaning once I do speak to ‘another human being’ it’s not the right human being. I explain myself again until eventually I am connected to the nonplussed individual, who seems uninterested in my customer feedback on the failings of the system.

The call centres which have a design fault that allows me to hear not only the person I have waited so long to talk to but also to several of his or her colleagues repeating the same questions in the back ground. A warped audio version of a hall of mirrors. “I’ll just bring up your details” echos on and on.

I reserve my biggest loathing for those utility companies to which I am in credit. They owe me. If they applied the same organisational levels to refunding as they did to collecting debit then I wouldn’t be poised over my phone with a sledge-hammer. I try to be patient, to avoid ringing again, the waiting, being told I am in queue, listening to messages about websites, services, recording of calls, high call volumes.

Dear utility companies, listening to Cold Play via the medium of a telephone receiver is not calming.

Several weeks since closing my account and I am completely out of patience. I now start with an apology before launching into a rant and hope the poor soul on the other end doesn’t take it personally. I am left with no alternative but to rant. I have pursued ‘reasonable’ with no effect. Ranting, at least, makes me feel better. Of course, this makes: No. Difference. They promise. I express a lack of faith in the promises. They promise again. I’ve been told this morning that the department making refunds has technical problems and can’t make refunds. Really? Maybe the people from ‘billings’ should help out because they never seem to have technical problems. I’m ranting again. I shall step away from the phone and take myself off to sit in a darken room until I am calm.

Thank you for your patience. Your reading call  is important to me us.


  1. bavariansojourn

    I feel your pain… I am currently trying to get through to vodafone Deutschland, they have the most hideous music and what’s the betting I won’t actually be able to understand ALL of what they are saying when I do actually get through… Here, have a G&T for after the tea! 🙂 x

  2. Wendy

    Everytime I’m stuck on one of those automated phone things I always wonder how older people are expected to cope, with bad hearing and not knowing what a ‘hash’ key is, must be awful!

  3. clairepepps

    Love it! I mean, I love the Blog … but hate this situation you/we all find ourselves in. Agree with Wendy; it’s not fair on those poor older people, who incidentally will be all of us one day. Really hope the situation improves before then. PS: I’m in the wine camp.

  4. michelloui | the american resident

    Last year I had this with EDF, it was endless pain of being on hold, reaching people who couldn’t help, etc etc, combined with them taking out too much from my account TWICE, and yes, we went into an unexpected overdraft as a result (I now pay online monthly rather than trust them to my Direct Debit). I have since seen some people getting a bit better service by complaining about them on Twitter (using a hashtag or @ for the company). Try that? Good luck with it.

  5. Mayfair Mum

    Definitely agree you should name and shame as previously suggested! We changed bank accounts last October and I’m SO over believing that’s as straightforward as they all say it is…! Feel your pain sweetie but hang in there and don’t give up 🙂

  6. An Exeter Mum

    Another of the hideous parts of moving. I had a nightmare with British Gas who refunded me overpayments (as we paid monthly on oth gas and elec) and then, THEN got stung three months later with them saying we owed them over a hundred pounds because whilst one of the accounts was in credit it turned out the other one wasn’t!!! I lost my rag SO badly with them. Still irks me know even thinking about it 8 months later. *passes the wine *

    1. helloitsgemma

      Thanks. Was very close to naming and shaming. I put in a formal complaint yesterday only to be told my issue is resolved as a cheque is on it’s way, so it’s no longer a complaint. It’s going to take 14 days to arrive. The person didn’t seem to grasp that I still wanted to complain about the length of time and false promises – I’m getting irked now too. Lets both drink wine!

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