Or rather, he didn’t.
We get our gas from Scottish Power (an electricity company) and have done since we took the hotel over in October 2004. In order to help us manage cash flow, we set up an arrangement where the company bills us a fixed amount each month, taking it directly from our bank account by way of a direct debit. Invoices arrive quarterly, with details of gas usage and all the other charges levied by the government.
You can imagine my horror, then, when I discovered that not only had we not received an invoice for gas since before the start of our financial year in November 2006, but that Scottish Power had unilaterally stopped collecting the direct debit in January 2007.
So, I phoned Scottish Power and was told:
“Yes, we’re running a little behind with our billing.” (that would be a minimum of 6 months behind!)
“Yes, I’ll pass on the gas meter reading to our team and get a new estimate sent out to you.” (that would be the meter reading that they are supposed to come and take on a regular basis, and which I had just given them)
A week later, with no estimate, and no contact, I phoned again:
“Oh, no-one’s passed that account to me to recalculate.”
“Well, we’re having a little staff difficulty so things are running a little late this year.”
“Do you have a meter reading?” (that would be the one I gave you a week ago, that you already seem to have lost)
I’ve been promised a new bill by Wednesday of next week. I’m not holding my breath.
Meanwhile, I have contacted Energywatch for help as they are able to pull strings I cannot and should be able to convince Scottish Power that expecting us to pay for 5 months of gas usage all at once is a little unreasonable. Frankly, it’s not just unreasonable, it’s unfeasable!
If you haven’t checked your utility bills recently, please do. Companies have a nasty habit of using estimated meter readings for months (or even years) on end and then hitting you with the difference when they can finally be bothered to send someone out to check. Our situation is a little worse, but I’ve seen similar when an electricity company was taken over and ‘lost’ half of its records in the transfer procedure. I’m not sure what excuse Scottish Power has though.