The gas man cometh

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.

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4 Comments

Filed under Our Hotel

4 responses to “The gas man cometh

  1. dez

    How dreadful for you! But I can sympathize. The major regional utility company in the South-central United States is “Entergy.” For many months after Hurricane Katrina hit, they continue to bill numerous New Orleans and Gulf Coast residents who were on scheduled billing” like you.

    Even though the houses were gone.

    Althoug my mother’s house was outside the major flood zone, she took wind and tree damage. The tree which damaged the back part of her house destroyed the electrical meter box; actually tearing it away from the house and popping all the wires, making it impossible for electricuty to go into the house. They billed her anyway! For eight months — even though the house was uninhabitable and she was living with us in Baton Rouge. We had to have the house completely rewired; the electrician had to install a new meter, everything. It was a pain in the behind, to say the least, to straighten that mess out.

  2. dez

    Oh dear … sorry for all the typos in yesterday’s message. I was home sick, and taking a pain medication, which apparently makes me unable to spell!

  3. Just to cheer you up: this could be even worse than you think, because of the huge hike in energy prices last winter. Our April payment to — yes! — Scottish Gas was beyond belief.

  4. When we moved into our house I called the gas company to have the service put in our name. They swore to me there was no gas service at our address. It was late October and we were sitting before a roaring fire and taking hot showers. I kept insisting because I knew they would eventually discover their mistake and hit me with six months usage “payment due upon receipt”. Like you, I prefer to have my pain doled out in mangable monthly increments.

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