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My Experience of British Gas

My letter to the CEO of British Gas. While I hope he can accomplish something, I rather doubt it.

Sir,

 

I am writing to complain about a serious issue with your IT and customer services.

We are the tenants of the building at xxx

We are a tiny community service company helping vulnerable people with legal matters. We have no public sources of funding and depend entirely on the generosity of those we help. Our revenues amount to no more than £30,000 per annum, a tiny fraction of your salary. From this we must fund pro-bono cases, staff wages, rent, maintenance and utilities.

Our staff are local community members and we all suffer from various mental and physical ailments. We are not competent to engage in verbal sparring or negotiating on the phone.

We “acquired” your services in December 2013 by moving into the building above. Our leasing agent supplied British Gas with an initial reading. On three occasions your meter reading agents G4S read our meter, the last being November 2014.

We had been paying our bills on time as per the invoices which came to us. As we are very focused on the community, we have little time to peruse through fine details of bills. We assumed that the meter readings were correct and the billing amounts were correct as the meter reader has just been around.

We were very shocked with our November 2014 bill which was over £xxx. For a tiny business like ours this would cause severe hardship.

We immediately enquired with your customer service staff, who were for the most part, very unhelpful. Initially your staff denied that meter readings for two other dates did exist. It took three letters for your staff to admit that meter readings were taken and that they exist with G4S. After a further two letter we were finally able to acquire these readings. Why is it so hard to ask British Gas for those readings?

Had we been aware of the correct billing amounts and gas consumption we would have had knowledge to adjust our boiler settings appropriately. Since British Gas decided to withhold the valid meter readings we had no incentive to do this so our consumption was higher than it should have been.

However, we believe that your IT systems were at fault. That the non-application of the readings to our account should have been detected and corrected and our bills updated accordingly. It seems that when it came to our building your systems seemed to have entered a black hole. Your staff continually simply blame us openly and feel no sympathy in reality. And I would add that your customer support staff, particularly Bxxx and Cxxx Wxxx are unable to grasp the nature of our complaint.

Cxxx Wxxx appears to see our letters as an opportunity to practise her, apparently, excellent skills in the art of the fob off.

Additionally while we are in dispute British Gas have now sent Debt collectors to our address which distressed our staff. We had asked Mrs. Wxxx to ask your Ability To Pay team to contact us as mentioned above we are not confident in verbal sparring or discussion on the phone. She ignored this point. It also appears that she either does not understand our complaint, or understands it but she is hiding information.

Bxxx and Mrs. Wxxx also supplied a internet link address to a website which does not exist. Specifically:  www.britishgas.co.uk/energytrust

In any case the British Gas Energy Trust does not help businesses, so why are you staff supplying both a non-existent link and to an entity which would not assist us anyway?

As it appears that repeated communication with your customer support staff will lead nowhere. We have written to you to ask to look into some points.

  1. Why was no initial reading applied to our account
  2. Why were the two meter reading by G4S not applied to our account
  3. Why are your systems not able to detect that two meter readings were failed to be applied to our account.
  4. Why were these readings not applied in retrospect and updated bills sent
  5. Why are your staff not sending us a deadlock letter
  6. What are you hiding
  7. Why are you sending debt collectors for a bill which is still in dispute

We are expecting that for the withholding of readings and the IT systems failure that British Gas would refund £xxx as a goodwill gesture.

We anticipate that you would be able to supply us a response within 7 days. Should you need further time we expect that it would only be ethical to cease the debt collection on our account.

We await your response in the matter

I don’t expect anyone in British Gas to help out here. Its more likely to end up back at Customer Service and back on the merry-go-round.

The desire to strive on

I’m currently in a funny place. I have no real job. I should get a real job. But then my lifestyle is affected. Mind you the distinct lack of money is probably affecting my lifestyle more.

This is the funny thing about the western world. living on subsistance is seen as failure. You’ve not got the big house with a swimming pool and with twin Range Rovers on the drive. Now that is truely failure.

What has happened to the world I grew up in where having fun was the key to life. We all have lost that. We all think that working 45 hours a week and buying an XBox is fun. Well okay an XBox is fun, but it’s not the only fun thing that can happen.

I struggle to live in this world where a stay-at-home dad with a minimal salary is considered a life failure.

Contrast that with a close friend who has worked on his business for over 20 years and has nothing to show for it. And now, when he is at his lowest, he can’t even get a job. He is an engineer and me a computer scientist. Neither of us can get jobs. So we must just carry on as we are on subsistence wages until the end.

Why did we not recognise the end was nigh? Why were we unable to see the trend in technology where anyone over 35 is unable to obtain employment.

We were seeing things through rose coloured glasses. Imagine being older than the company CEO who looks on with distain at a 55y/o employee who has to go home at 5pm to be with family. Oh the horror! I can imagine the thoughts “he is not dedicated. lets not train him up and replace him with a younger, cheaper model who already has been taught XYZ”. Let’s not fool ourselves, these thoughts do occur. And they are illegal.

I am a victim of ageism.

Join my fight. Let’s strive on together.

John Kambanis November 21, 1946 – December 28, 2014

It is with great sadness that my mentor and very close friend John Kambanis passed away.

John was a kind an generous man. We had many lovely and fun days together. I will always treasure the times we had. Weather it was at our favourite restaurant the Meekong in Ottawa’s china town, or chowing down on a greek takeway from Greek on Wheels. It was totally a great experience to be his friend and to work with him. He was with me when I was going through the process of getting married and made the extra effort to come my reception in Toronto.

John was born in Greece but spent much of his youth in Ethiopia where his father ran a barber shop. John was there when the king was deposed. Later the family returned to Greece and John moved to South Africa to attend and later teach at a university there.

Though he studied Physics, John became very interested in the micro computers in the early days when they were becoming popular. He learned how to program and started his own company selling a small database system.

John was offered a sabbatical in Toronto and quickly took it up. He loved Canada so much that he began to look for work and found a job at Cognos in Ottawa. I met John there on my first day on 1 Feb 1993. We didn’t hit it off immediately, arguing about how evil Microsoft was and such! But John was so kind and gentle that his gentleness rubbed off on me. He saw in me the talent that I had.

I later worked for John in our lovely office on Metcalfe street in the heart of Ottawa city centre. It was a single room but we made it like a second home. It even had a couch and a coffee table. Even after I had got laid off I still went down there to visit and chat. We even managed a trip to San Francisco for one week, driving around in a convertible. He was lovely.

In 2003 I got married and moved to the UK. John visited me twice in the UK and on both occasions we had a lovely time. I think John did enjoy things very much.

John suffered a mild heart attack in 2008 and he required a heart bypass. Afterwards he was on blood thinners which he complained often gave him dizzy spells. It was in 2009 that he had a particularily bad fall and suffered a subdural hematoma.  I was still able to speak to John on a regular basis – but in 2010 he lost his ability to communicate and I began to worry very much about him. I was still hopeful that with physiotherapy he would recover. Sadly his condition got worse and on December 28 2014 my good friend passed away. I never did visit him whilst he was ill and for that I am very regretful.

I will truely miss him.

Space for hire

Space for hire

I have a commercial building. Presently I only need two rooms and I have three for rent as offices/shops.

Owning a commercial building has turned out to be a massive error. So I am desperate to get these rooms hired out to pay the bills.

I have two offices which can be had for £40/week until August 2015.

There is a shop front also available for £50/week. Would go great as a Christmas popup shop. I happy to rent this space out for six weeks. Though I do hope you would hang around longer.

Both have access to common toilets and kitchen. There is also a little storage available.

Rent includes business rates at present. Share of Utilities & Internet is extra.

Have a look at my gumtree ad