Utility Companies Causing Stress & Anxiety?

you-desperately-need-to-speak-to-a-real-person-at1What is with this new, or maybe not so new, scare tactic big companies are using to deter their customers from making enquiries or complaints? I have had two problems this week with the gas and phone company and before my call even got through to them I was warned not once or twice but three times, to rethink my call as I could possibly be charged an extra call out fee! These fees are not small fees either, they are $100 dollars or more. It’s not like everyone has a spare couple of hundred dollars in their pocket.

How about you do your job in the first place and then I wouldn’t have to make a call or lodge a complaint to have something fixed or taken care of. The problem I feel this presents is fear, anxiety and stress, firstly the fear of paying extra for a service when the company should be bending over backwards for your business and two the anxiety and stress one will go through to actually continue with the phone call.

I am not sure if these big companies even realise the stress and anxiety they are putting their customers through. Why cant they just make it simple and answer their phone when it rings and deal with their customers in a pleasing way. Not threaten their customers with the possibility of more money charged just because they are calling them for help, especially when we (the customers) are already paying such high prices to use the utilities in the first place.

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For an example: With my gas company, I had ordered gas on the Wednesday as the tank was at 30%, this is what they tell me to do so it gives them enough time to get a delivery to me. I received a message on the Thursday letting me know a delivery would be here on Friday, next day. No delivery came, yet another message was sent to me at the end of the day to let me know a delivery would be made on the Saturday. At this point my husband rang to lodge a complaint.

It seems even a complaint wouldn’t get them moving as we still did not receive a delivery of gas. On top of this we live out in the country on a farm, and supposedly they expect us to keep our dog tied up all this time until the delivery has been made. I understand the safety aspect but when the promised delivery doesn’t arrive after two days when expected, my dog will not be kept locked up.

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I then had to call them on Sunday as we had less than 10% of gas in the tank, when apparently no one is in the office. I must have tried to call them a few times, hanging up each time due to the warning of a call out fee. I had to convince myself that I had a right to call them to tell them I was virtually out of gas and why haven’t I received my delivery yet?. I was warned 3 times before getting through to the after hours call centre: ‘that I would be charged for an out of hours urgent call out, for a gas delivery’. And to continue with the call I had to be completely out of gas and that I would still be charged.

I finally decided to continue with the call since I had already ordered the gas but never received it and already we were having trouble with the gas cooking due to the almost out of gas reading. The gentleman on the other end of the line seemed quite understanding and placed an order for urgent gas and mentioned the extra fee but said due to the non delivery situation he would waive the fee. Well I was thankful for that and let him know it.

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My thanks was short lived as by Monday I had still not received that delivery of gas! Now I was forced to ring up again and find out where my gas delivery was. If only these companies would just do their jobs and life would not seem so stressful. So I made the call and would you believe it the woman sitting behind her desk staring at her computer tells me that we have received the delivery of gas.

Really?!!

So I went and double checked the gas bottle gauge, just by chance I may have missed the delivery in the last hour since it had last been checked, but NO it was on 0%. Received delivery my A#%@! I wasn’t feeling well, I am still getting over an operation I had just over a week ago and here I was trudging outside to check a gas bottle I knew was empty. Just deliver the gas already!!!

Finally the gas was delivered first thing Tuesday morning but not before we filed a complaint and threatened that we would call the ombudsmen. That is almost a week after we first ordered it and after 3 promised deliveries. Eight kids to feed and no gas is asking for a disaster, World War three even.

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So I am still left wondering why these companies are charging for call outs?

Even the phone company! My landline plays up at least 3 times a year, often after heavy rain. When making or receiving calls it will make horrible loud crackling noises and no one can be heard on the line. I find myself apologising to the person on the other end of the line. It is horrible and annoying, leaving me to make expensive phone calls on my mobile when it could just be the cost of a local call on the home phone.

To lodge a work order to have the problem fixed the phone company also has a warning about call out fees etc. etc. etc. Often leaving one to feel like the fault could be their own even when they know that the phone was working fine the day before. Leaving the customer wondering ‘am I going to be charged for this’, ‘is it worth the hassle’, it may even cause one to rethink their request and put up with a broken phone connection.

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These companies need to rethink their strategies, they may think it is fair warning but I think it is scare tactics and another way of creating anxiety which can lead to depression in our society. People need to feel like they can call their utility companies for help without feeling like they are the ones at fault. So they won’t be left feeling like they will be charged to pay for a job that should be a part of the services they already pay for.

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