Energy Companies – Lessons learned and GRRR!

I have mentioned this before, but I am having a dispute with First Utility at the moment. I have come to the end of a fixed two year deal with them, so I could leave. The only reason I have hung on is that I know they have input a meter reading in incorrectly, leading to them telling me I owed them a lot of money that I know I don’t. I thought it might be easier to get it resolved as an existing customer. I have taken the case to the Energy Ombudsman and it has been accepted (although I have to say they are almost as slow as First Utility in getting some action).

GrrrMy problem now is that I cannot currently access accurate information about my usage as my account shows that I have used zero electricity since they gave me a new meter 2 months ago. The data that was on there has disappeared and nothing has been entered since (???? How is that helpful for me as a customer?). Also the gas usage is wrong due to the inaccurate reading, so when I tried to look at other suppliers on one of the comparison websites I couldn’t easily work out how much my monthly bill should be. I think I am under paying First Utility as well and will end up owing them a bit of money, just not the very large figure they were attempting to get off me!

I refuse to waste any more of my life hanging on the phone to First Utility (usually around half an hour wait to get through), only for the poorly trained unfortunate at the other end to give me no resolution, just to promise to escalate after which nothing ever happens.

So I have been stuck in limbo, but I am reaching the end of my patience so may just move anyway.

However, the lessons I have learned that I will bear in mind:

1. Sometimes cheapest isn’t best. In terms of customer service, you get what you pay for with First Utility.  Diabolical and incompetent.

2. Once I decide on a likely supplier I will read the reviews on moneysavingexpert.com and elsewhere to make sure their customer service doesn’t completely stink. If I had, I wouldn’t have touched First Utility with the proverbial barge pole.

3. I will submit my readings monthly on-line and keep my own record. I will then check my account to make sure the correct figure has been recorded. (If I choose to change supplier again, I will then know exactly what I use)

4. I will check my account regularly to make sure my usage is not costing me more than the agreed direct debit amount. I stupidly assumed that if it did, First Utility would let me know. They didn’t, they never emailed my bills across and I assumed their silence meant all was well.

5. Heating and lighting the house is an expensive business these days. I have done all I can think of to reduce my energy consumption – the loft and wall cavities have been filled, I have double glazing, I have turned the thermostat down, I force the family to wear lots of layers and thick socks, we only use the lights in the rooms we are in and don’t leave things on standby…Mr S wants to get a woodburner and I think that may help. Other people I know who have them say they keep one room toastie and reduce the heating in the rest of the house to the bare minimum. I will have to see what I owe FU and then see if we can stretch to one. We think we have a working chimney but it will need to be swept and possibly lined.

In the meantime I will channel my pent up fury into the decorating!

Before I can do that today, I am off to see the bank to negotiate a new fixed term mortgage deal. Wish me luck!!