Saturday, 3 November 2012

Scottish Power - and lack of glory

The British energy sector is in a mess. The tariffs are over complicated and the cost of gas and electricity is becoming prohibitive.
With my current two-year fixed term from NPower about to expire, like millions of folk, I have been shopping around to get the best deal, .
Taking my cue from the Consumers' Association magazine Which?, I shopped around online to get the best offer.
I carefully entered my usage for both fuels in the MoneySupermarket.Com website and chose the best offer, from Scottish Power. The quote, £24.35 per month, was a substantial saving on my current provider. Thus I started the transfer process.
Today, I received a welcome letter from the company, quoting (in very small print) a direct debit of £68, something like 70% more than I currently pay.
I telephoned the number in the letter, pushed various buttons 'to get to the right department' and waited. And waited.
For over half an hour I listened to some pretty naff musak and the same message, 3 times a minute, telling me my call would be answered 'as soon as possible'.
Thirty three minutes later, and without a word of apology, the call was answered. Not by the department selected, but by a lady who knew about bills but very little else.
All I want to do is to stop the transfer process, but no, the department is closed and I need to call back on Monday. Not surprisingly, I told the woman I was not prepared to do that and requested a call back.
As far as lodging a complaint about both the sales techniques and the delay in answering the call, my verbal message (which I confirmed was being recorded)  is, apparently, not sufficient.  I have to fill up a form which will be sent to me.

I am sure there will be many of my readers who have had similar experiences with companies in the energy sector. What is scandalous is that many folk, especially the elderly,  will not realise that their 'better tariff' is in fact a substantial increase. Or, if they do, will find out too late and be tied into a long-term, expensive, agreement.
The UK energy sector is in a  mess and if their sales people are clearly able to misquote in the cavalier way that the disgraced banking sector did, then we are heading for  a crisis of similar proportions.
Scottish Power, OFGEM will be receiving an official complaint.
Not that, I am sure, you will care a jot. There are many other folk who won't have spotted your cheating, con-artist sales techniques.
As for whether they will call me back, don't hold your breath.


I do hope you haven't been holding your breath, because I have not had a call back from my original discussion with Scottish Power. So I telehoned them. The lines were busy, so I requested a return call. They did call me back nearly 40 minutes later, but, of course, it was the wrong department and during the transfer, they dropped my call.

Shambolic or what?

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Santander screws up yet again!

Just why is Santander, the former Abbey National, so completely incompetent?

Over the past few days, I have transferred various sums from my Santander accounts to pay my builder. All within the bank's limits and all confirmed by their much publicised OTP fraud protection scheme. This entails sending a special code to your mobile to make sure that the person carrying out the transaction is authorised to do so. I did that, all was well and the transfers were sorted out to happen.

Today, my builder queried why one of the transactions had gone into his account but had been recalled by my bank. I go online to find that my entire Santander account has been suspended.

I ring Santander and, after entering all my card number and my date of birth, was connected with a call centre in Bangalore. The woman there was useless, ploughed on through her script, unable to deviate in any sense or form from what she had been programmed to do. However, she did reveal that the bank had tried to contact me - on old numbers.

I gave up on the call and rang again. What a difference. An Irish voice this time, helpful, sympathetic and responsive. I get back online quickly. As I do, he explained that the bank's fraud protection department had tried to call me to query the large amounts going out of my account.

It transpires that, although my contact numbers are all up to date, the fraud department, supposedly at the forefront of protecting my interests, only has my old details. But, I asked, why did they cancel a transaction which had been authorised by their OTP system?

My man at the bank could only hold up his hands and apologise.

Why does the fraud department not have the current details?

Again, he could only express sympathy and understanding.

But, I can now do the transfers, he guarantees that they will go through.

All very well, but Santander's uselessly antiquated systems means that I have to enter each transfer individually and spread out the payments over three days.

Very bad show.

Thus, I am to be contacted tomorrow by 'someone senior'.

Let's hope that Santander's systems allow him access to my current contact numbers.

Because as soon as I have spent the last penny in all of my Santander accounts, they are being closed.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

has a Navy friend visiting for the weekend. Only been here for four hours and I have already drunk too much and she has gone to bed!

Friday, 30 April 2010

has just been told the gas supply at my new house has been re-connected. It has only taken British Gas four months. Impressive or what?

Monday, 26 April 2010

has just sent Easyjet a bill for €1018.61 for my expenses following the eruption. It's clear no airline can sustain the claims. EU bail out?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Trains, Boats and no planes

Here's the link to my photo blog of my journey by train from Berlin to Malaga after being marooned in Berlin for four days by the volcano. I'll add to it when I next get internet access.

Monday, 22 March 2010

On bags and bungling

When you travel as much as I do, it’s not surprising that, occasionally, a piece of luggage fails to arrive when it is supposed to.

In thirty years of travel writing, my checked in bag has failed to appear on the carousel on no more than three or four occasions. With one exception, they reappeared within a day or two and were promptly delivered to me at a convenient location and time. Apart from filling in the form, no further action was required on my part.

But when United Airlines managed to lose my suitcase between Chicago and Lansing, a distance of just over two hundred miles, you would have expected the matter to be resolved quickly and efficiently.

After all, after the carousel emptied after the 29 minute flight to Lansing, they KNEW that the bag was still in Chicago. The lady on the United ticket desk said it had just been sent to the wrong pier and would be arriving on the next flight, three hours later. Not a problem, especially as they had a courier service scheduled to depart at 10pm. I filled up the appropriate form, and departed with the promise that ‘someone would call’ with the delivery details. Reassuringly, my copy of the delayed baggage report told me that United was ‘doing everything possible to quickly reunite me with my property’.

Just after 11pm, I thought it wise to check the status of my baggage online. But not only was the wrong type of bag listed, they were apologising for the fact that the bag had still not been located.

The number to call for assistance required much button pressing and voice recognition before I got through to a human being. The guy had a lot of trouble understanding me and I him. I put it down to the lateness of the hour and the fact my brain was locked into a time zone five hours ahead. But eventually, I was reassured that my bag was in fact in Lansing and would be delivered ‘first thing in the morning’. The wrong entries on the online web tracking service would, he assured me, be corrected.

When, by 8am the following morning, the bag had still not arrived and there was no message on either the house phone or my mobile, I checked online again. My silver hard shell suitcase was still being listed as a grey zippered bag. Worryingly, it still reported that they had not located it. I was not reassured by their statement that ‘most bags turned up within 24 hours.

So I initiated another phone call. The voice recognition they use is pretty clever. It finds out your name, your bag tag details and, having ascertained all of that, tells you it will pass that information on to their baggage agent. Well it doesn’t. You have to go through the whole rigmarole again.

The bag is at Lansing airport waiting for me to collect I was cheeringly told. I took a deep breath, asked why such a simple job as delivering my suitcase was being so incompetently handled and was reassured, after much apologising (but not a great deal of sincerity) for the inconvenience, that it would be delivered to my address as a priority.

Two hours later, I emailed another department at United, guest response, who’d been very helpful and efficient prior to my trip. The lady called me within a few minutes, apologised profusely and promised to sort it out. Apparently the driver who was supposed to be delivering to me had been sent north and would not be back for some time. But she had the agent at Lansing airport on the other line and the bag would ‘certainly be delivered by lunchtime’. As I was heading out to lunch, we agreed that I’d leave a little note on the door telling the delivery service where to put it and my cell phone number so they could confirm that they’d found the house and the case was there.

Returning home at 3pm, there’d still been no call and no sign of the bag, so I emailed guest response again who responded by return, saying they’d been told the bag was on its way and that the delivery company had been told to ring me by return.

At five, having heard nothing, I went online, nothing updated there, so I rang the baggage number again. This time I discovered that all the button pressing and voice recognition was a complete waste of time. Apparently the systems don’t pass on all the information you have so painstakingly entered.

After a lot of waiting, repeating information, spelling out details in the International Phonetic Alphabet which is clearly not taught to the baggage agents, I asked where my call was being handled. ‘New Delhi’, I was told.

After about twenty minutes, the man handling my call decided that the incident was above his pay grade, so I was passed to Vipul, his supervisor.

As I had been waiting for so long, I asked if he would call me back.

It’s now 24 hours since I arrived in Lansing, Michigan. There’s been no call from the courier company. No call from Vipul. No call from United Airlines at Lansing airport.

And there’s still no sign of my bag.

Very occasionally things go wrong.

But what credence do you give United’s claim that ‘they are doing everything possible to reunite me with my baggage’?

I rest my case.

Well I would, if I had it.


At 7.15pm, 24 hours after I had arrived minus bag, I rang Vipul in New Delhi. After an interminable wait, he came on the line. ‘Why did you not ring me back?’, I demanded. ‘I couldn’t get hold of the courier company he said. His fortune well and truly read, he range me back 15 minutes later. ‘Your bag will be picked up at eight and delivered by midnight.’
At ten past eight, a jolly man in a woolly hat arrived at the front door. ‘Sign here’, he said.

I enquired when he first new about my bag. ‘Ten mminutes ago’, he replied. ‘They didn’t answer their door at midday. It happens a lot’

I asked him how much he was paid for delivering this ‘priority’ service’. ‘Four dollars’, he replied.

You might think that’s not very generous for an eight mile ride and certainly not the rate for a ‘priority’ service.

I’ve been looking at United Airlines’ impressively worded 12 point ‘customer commitment’. Here are extracts from points 3 and 12.

‘Once your belongings are located, they will be returned as quickly as possible’.

‘Our Customer Relations representatives have one goal: to acknowledge customer questions and complaints and provide prompt resolution’.

Now I DO rest my case.