I was invited to the Nottingham Council LGBT Employee Support Network conference to give the keynote speech, here’s the video of the first part. Unfortunately my camera ran out of memory less than halfway through but you get the idea… I’ll update this page with some of the feedback in the week.
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Dear holders of gas supply and guardians of my warmth and cleanliness,
I write to you in a rather dirty and slightly cold, frustrated state so please excuse my unabashed sarcasm but the events of this afternoon have truly shattered my faith in commerce, capitalism and humanity itself. Little less than 24 hours ago I noticed that my warm and cosy apartment with all it’s lovely hot water and heating was getting a little bit nippy so as I turned the heating up a notch or two I decided to check how much credit I had on my meter. I noticed to my disappointment that I was running low so I dutifully rushed out into the cold night to my local approved top-up pay point. All was going as normal at this point and I expected soon to be relaxing in a nice warm bath, heating up a little bit and relaxing on my sofa for the rest of the evening. I was absolutely crestfallen when, to my utter shock I inserted my gas card into my gas meter and the display read “FAIL”. Just FAIL. No more hot bath for me that evening, no more turning the heating up any notches, just FAIL.
Not to worry, I thought to myself, I could just go without a bath that evening and I could always snuggle up underneath a duvet until I could get this situation fixed, it can’t be that hard, can it? I mean, I had been a customer of British Gas since I had moved into my current residence and had not had a problem with what I assumed was a British bastion of customer care, especially after seeing all those heartwarming cartoon adverts on the television. I had kind of hoped for one of those levitating vans to rush to my aid, a saluting man wearing his cap at a jaunty angle ready to jump out of the door, a whole team of people all working together behind the scenes to restore my hot water and heating.
Unfortunately none of this has happened, no jaunty caps, no levitating vans and only seemingly clueless people in call centres somewhere, who’s unwillingness to help is only surpassed by Maggie Thatcher’s stoic defense of the Falkland Islands more than three decades ago. I have spent more than four hours this afternoon battling with voices on the end of my telephone, every single one of them seemingly attempting to surpass the one before in their attempts to pass the buck and wash their hands of me and my problem. Not one person that I spoke to even got close to resolving my problem, instead tried to foist me onto another call centre operative.
I was informed (if your staff are to be believed, that is) that despite having signed up for British Gas’s rather reasonably priced Dual Fuel tariff months and months ago when I first moved into my seafront apartment, somehow, sometime in February and without my knowledge or consent it would seem that my gas account had been migrated to NPower. At this point my levels of frustration were rising almost as quickly as my hot water would have risen up the side of my bath, which is not that quickly if I’m honest but that’s another matter entirely. The person I spoke to at NPower listened to my list of tribulations and dutifully ignored everything I had said and checked their system, informing me that I have never been a customer of NPower. No surprise, Sherlock. A far as I knew, my energy supplier was British Gas.
So I called up British Gas once again, this time a little more insistent that I am in fact was a customer of theirs only to be hung up on. My frustration levels were now exceeding that of a thermometer plunged into boiling metal. Please forgive my heat analogies but I am rather cold right now. The third time I spoke to one of your call centre people they just insisted that I was not a gas customer and there was nothing that they could do and once again, I was transferred to NPower. Guess what? I went through exactly the same rigmarole with NPower that I was subjected to in the paragraph preceding this one. This time though, the helpful lady at the end of the phone put me onto a company who would definitively tell me who my gas supplier is, one can only imagine delight at the prospect of a final resolution to my troubles as I dialled the number into my phone with a slightly grubby fingernail. Unfortunately, these people shattered that hope of a light at the end of the tunnel like a great mound of warm horse dung being dumped on a flickering candle when they told me that, according to their records, my property doesn’t have a gas meter!
So here i sit, frustrated, dishevelled and shivering slightly, I have spent four hours this afternoon trying to get my gas meter fixed and all I have got is the run-around from numerous people and I am still left with a few questions running through my mind. Why did British Gas discontinue my gas account without my consent? Why do British Gas think that NPower are my suppliers? Why does this mythical ‘knower of gas meters’ think that I don’t even have a meter? I can assure you that I most definitely have had a gas meter since I moved in and have been paying to put credit on to it, so where has this money been going to? Why is nobody coming to fix my meter? And why am I still sitting here cold and dirty?
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