A practical example of public v private ownership of utilities

At NO, where I tend to do the philosophical or international politics, the other lads and lass tend to get down to the nitty gritty of land registration, the NHS and the Turner and Booker Prize, with one passing on all of that and bringing us jazz.

Unfortunately, there have been recent issues and one of my own yesterday [Friday 13th], which has thrown the whole focus back onto the issue of public utilities versus privatization.

Who was it said he wouldn’t mind privatization, as long as it isn’t Crapita, G4S or ATOS? To that we can add the semi-private set-ups which pretend to be efficiently private but actually give rubbish service, e.g. BT, British Gas and so on.

Then there are phone and gas firms who are genuinely private behemoths but give the most appalling and frustratingly bad service. It’s my luck that I am with one of these and just as my bags of tools were ready to take to the boat yesterday, a letter arrived threatening me with their right to enter my home and take what they liked. Also that I’d have no credit for 6 years. Threat, threat, threat, always threat.

The interesting part is that they are the ones who told me that they needed to resolve their issue first and inform be before a new account is organized and I can be billed. Now call me naive in my wishful thinking but I thought that if they have my whole history in their file before them, that when they “bring up my file”, as they say, they actually read it.

Because if they had, then they’d have seen the whole story stretching back five years, as the manager of collections agreed with me around 5 p.m. yesterday, making it 45 minutes I was kept waiting listening to the same two minute piece of muzak over and over and over and over, being passed to three different people, until finally striking lucky with an actual manager who could resolve things.

Total time on the phone – two and a half hours.

Tenth recorded attempt at resolution. Regulars might remember posts on this some years back at NO. Yep – same issue folks, same way of “dealing with it” every single effing time. Same assurances it will not happen again.

So that focuses the mind wonderfully on the whole public versus privatization debate.

In short – they’re all as bad as each other. What it needs is someone at least passably competent within the organization, whichever it is – public or private – to deal with the public. That’s all we, the citizens, ask – for someone competent.

I’m given to understand that these people at the end of phones and in accounts departments actually sit exams, sit tests, in order that the cream only is chosen to be employed.

Sorry if anyone spilt his or her coffee or tea reading that line above just now.

8 comments for “A practical example of public v private ownership of utilities

  1. Mark
    June 14, 2014 at 07:07

    I sometimes think that instead of wasting my time on the phone I should let these incompetents take me to court, them hit them with the files and sic em with my lawyers bill and a counter claim for stress.

  2. ubermouth
    June 14, 2014 at 08:20

    When one is MISlead to believe that errors have been resolved, they should ask for confirmation in writing so that when the issue is NOT resolved one can refer them to the written document,circumventing another half-day on the phone.

  3. ivan
    June 14, 2014 at 10:32

    You did, of course, record the conversation parts of your call didn’t you? You should then transcribe it and send a copy to their accounts department so they can return you a signed copy so confirming what was, a) said and b) what they will be doing.

    If you haven’t then expect the same run around id a couple of months time.

    Also telling them that the conversation is being recorded concentrates their minds as does getting the name and direct line number for the top person you contact. That way you can call in a couple of days and confirm that what he/she said they would do has actually been done.

  4. wiggia
    June 14, 2014 at 12:03

    Vaguely related to the private v public debate is my current case that I am pursuing at the moment, this is another one, when we moved in Jan last year we needed to replace the water softener, did research purchased online and my plumber who was already changing the kitchen about fitted it.
    Worked fine after a bit of tweaking of the computer, but stopped working about three weeks ago, reset it and it went throgh the first fazes but failed to regenerate nothing, phone techie help, very obliging go through menus and start again, still not regenerating, phone again and ask for call out, we don’t do call out it is return to base, your joking I reply, no we are an internet co , where in your literature does it say any of this, it’s on our web site, look for it can’t see anything.
    On we go, I’m afraid sir it is out of warranty, now only parts and you will have to pay labour and courier costs, hang on a minute there is no warranty on the paperwork only in the manufacturers handbook and paperwork and that states two years parts and labour plus call out costs, we don’t go by that as it is imported !
    At this point I start to get excited and state you cannot circumvent the manufacturers warranty to suit yourselves, it’s on our web site, no it bloody well isn’t I’ve looked, and on and on, no joy.
    What I am reduced to is contacting trading standards whose initial response was in my favour but I await the paperwork, as anybody out there heard anything like this because I haven’t, and even if I win what are the chances of a resolution this side of next Christmas.

    • ivan
      June 14, 2014 at 13:52

      Wigga, if the company is in an EU country there is a statutory 2 year guaranty period (as per your paperwork) no matter what they say – even Apple got hit by that one when they offered a one year guaranty and tried to sell their extended guaranty to cover the second year.

    • ubermouth
      June 14, 2014 at 22:36

      I feel for you Wiggia. These companies could -and likely do- bring on a heart attack from the never-ending stress they create for their customers that is near impossible to wade through to resolve.

  5. June 14, 2014 at 12:50

    That’s valuable advice. Recording is important and letting them know it’s recorded equally so.

    • ubermouth
      June 14, 2014 at 22:42

      Usually they give an announcement at the beginning of the call, informing the customer that their end is recording each call, but direct them back to the call for verification of what they committed to at an earlier time and they feign they can’t find that tape!

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