Open Letter To First Utility – Why Didn’t You Call Me? :’-(

I wanted First Utility to want me. I didn’t want to have to be the one to always call, to give my details over and over, being passed from department to department looking for the person who knew me, knew my past. I kept begging for a call back.

But all I got were automated emails pointing the finger at me, saying I wasn’t good enough to be in this relationship. That I didn’t qualify. With a ‘list’ of reasons of why I could’ve done more. But there was only one reason why it didn’t work.

They hadn’t been able to enter my details correctly in their system on five separate occasions.

first_utility_better_way

The lesson for First Utility – please add this to your automated rejection email: If you feel we have made a mistake, please contact us to find out the reason your application has not been successful as it may have been an error at our end.

They never apologised, although with each realisation they said they would do better next time. But they continued to rely on automated systems, they ignored my pleas for a person to keep an eye out, I begged for a call back if there was another error, for that person I’d spoken to follow it up, to care. In the end, it took a human to fill the empty spaces. That human was me.

The list of kerfuffles…

First: I received a bill from First Utility four months late.

I had moved out of a previous residence five months earlier and cancelled the service then, I told them then I had to move. Charge me now I said. I have the money in the shared account now. They forgot?!?! They came back, out of the blue, to charge me four months later. Well that was awkward. I no longer had access to the shared account. I’d just have to pay it from my personal account as the bill was in my name only.

Second:  On closer inspection of the bill I found that there was a charge for the gas and electricity when they had only been supplying me with the gas.

I called them to contest the charge and they looked at the MPAN and said, oh, you’re right, the elec charges are not for your property, but your neighbours. Ah. Yes. So they said I wouldn’t have to pay this bill within the one or two week window I had been given. That they would adjust the bill after getting in touch with the National Grid. In order to not have this over my head, I paid the full gas amount anyway knowing that would leave the bill at a £0 balance once they readjusted it. I never heard from them about this bill again. In one of my many calls at a later date I asked about it and they said it was closed. I asked for email confirmation that it was, they obliged.

Third: My first attempt at signing up for both gas and electricity at my new flat left me without gas.

This was where a third party helped sour this part of the relationship. My lovely new flat was one of two in the terrace and there were two gas meters, but no one, not even the National Grid, knew which one was assigned to our flat. British Gas said to uncover which one was ours, we should look at the meters, turn all our gas on, and see which one increases that fastest. We did. Where FU come in is that I had called them to establish a new account at my new address. I had specifically asked for both gas and elec. They had said yes, we will supply both. We went through my details over the phone and I was assured both supplies would be fine. They may not have had enough information to supply the gas at the time, but rather than get back to me with a question about the MPRN number, instead I received an automated welcome email that said I had applied for electricity only. I hadn’t. I had to call them to discover why no gas?

Fourth: Let’s start again.

The advice from FU at this stage was to cancel the first successful electricity application at my new address and start again. This time they would have to manually enter the gas details I had procured, ensuring they had the correct MPRN (British Gas was in the process of updating the National Grid). OK, sure. It was a little white lie that you said you would supply my gas but let’s see if we can work through this. So we commenced on a fresh start. With the right meters and reads we embarked on a new chapter. We filled in all the details (again) and left saying we’d see each other again soon.

Fifth: There were too many fields to fill out.

I received an automatic rejection email that I failed them. I rang to find out why. They said it was because although they had all my information from my previous application, they had not re-entered it all as they should. They were confused as it was a ‘manual’ form to be filled out due to the issue with the MPRN. They tried again, this time to make sure all the previous information was re-entered as it needed to be, in every field, manually. I begged, I said please please please if there is anything that hinders my application, can you please call me. I have all the details you need, I’ve been accepted as a customer twice before, can you please please please call me if there is any reason this application is not successful.

Sixth: Hmmmmm, not sure why?

I soon received another automated rejection email. I rang back again. Again giving my details, again being passed around departments. I waited patiently again for them to find me in their system (again). This time they said I didn’t have enough of a history of residence in London to be a customer. But I’ve been a customer before I said. Oh. They said, well then I’m sure you can be a customer of ours.

So I got an automated acceptance email.

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