Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Utility Issues Part 3

The third post in the utilities series, on restrictions on installations by the property. 

First an update on the Npower issue...I got a letter before we went on holiday (to the wrong address) asking us to contact them for more information. I emailed them as it was too late to ring by the time I opened the letter and we were going on holiday the next day. So I sent an email to say I was going away, I had told them I was going away over the phone the week before, something along the lines of please god do not ring me while I am on holiday just correct the address and send me a goddamn bill. I got a letter when we got home (again to the wrong address) saying they had tried to ring me (while I was on holiday) and needed me to ring them, well I tried last week, twice, waited on hold for nearly an hour in total, then gave up. Then the other day I get another letter (addressed to me at the right address - progress!) in response to my email 3 weeks ago, saying sorry, my complaint has been recognised and they will contact me by email from now on. no bill. nothing since then via post or email. It's just getting beyond a joke now, I give up. 

If we ever get this bill do you think they'll wait 10 months for payment? 


Sometimes there are restrictions on what you can have but it is a reasonable request from the landlord. For example our flat is in a listed building, and because it is in a basement has had a damp proof coating applied to all the walls which shouldn’t be perforated. The landlord therefore said we could get internet or whatever installed as long as there were no holes drilled in the wall, or digging up of gardens, or any changes to the front of the house. This is fair enough I think and we can work around it. However it did cause us an issue with one company.
We moved into our current flat in December, but didn’t get internet until February (we even were without TV for a few days, and had to actually talk to each other). We were with Virgin Media at our last house for TV and internet, and when we told them we were moving they offered to transfer our internet. The rep or whatever he was, Lyndon, for our area rang us numerous times before we moved asking if we had decided to take our current service with us (actually a bit pushy), I had compared prices and they were pretty comparable and we had a good service from them in the past so I agreed a date for them to come a few days after we had moved in to get the internet set up. He would come by before so we could sign the new contract (not something I’ve ever had to do before, usually we just set it all up over the phone). I had said to him that we rent, and there was not a Virgin line into the house already. I did also say that the landlord had said we could install what we wanted as long as there was no digging up gardens or drilling in walls etc. He said as long as we have a phone line they could do it through that.
Lyndon turned up with the contract a few days after we moved in, and I just happened to ask if he needed to see the lines already installed to see if they were suitable, he responded by showing me where they would run the cable down the front garden (burying it, so digging up the garden) and where they would drill it into the flat. Obviously this internet was not a possibility for us then, I reminded him that we rent and drilling holes in the wall was not allowed, and that I had told him this before. He said how else did I think they would get internet into the flat? As I’m not an engineer I didn’t have an answer for this although I did remind him what he had said about the phone line and he just kind of laughed at this like I was suggesting they bring it in via fairy dust and unicorns. Our BT internet now comes through the phone line so it is perfectly possible by the way Lyndon in case you’re reading. He then asked me to ‘just sign the contract’, which I declined and asked him to cancel the installation, he asked me to just tell them on the day to not do it. How ridiculous is that? I was meant to wait in all day for the engineers to come then tell them to go away, what a waste of my time and theirs! He asked me to sign the contract again, and when I told him I was not signing up for a service I could not have he stropped off up the steps saying ‘fine I’ll cancel it, fine!’.
Well, I didn’t believe that he would cancel everything so rang the helpline a few days later only to find he had actually rescheduled the installation for a month later. I don’t know whether he was planning to contact us again and try to convince us but I asked them to cancel this and not to contact us again. It’s a shame as we had been with them for a few years and it ended on rather a bad note. I was actually at home on my own at the time and did find his behaviour completely inappropriate and even quite threatening. I’m no stranger to shutting the door in someone’s face or telling them where to get off and I don’t respond well to pushy sales (I’m more likely to just back off if I feel like I’m being pushed into something, even if I want it really!), but if I was a little more easily scared I might have ended up being bullied into signing up to a contract that we didn’t want. Tom was disgusted when I called him afterwards quite shaken up and told him what had happened, and encouraged me to complain – I did call them and inform them of their representative’s behaviour but never heard anything back.
We then had to start the process all over again and had to get our BT phone line reactivated before they could use it for the internet, so it took a while to get that all sorted and installed. In the end it all worked out but a few things I learnt from this were:
  • Ask specifically what they will need to do to install, and lay out what your restrictions are. If they aren’t sure they should be able to send someone round to have a look and see if they can work with what you have. If you aren’t sure ask your landlord or agent if what they’re suggesting is ok. 
  • Do not sign anything that commits you to a contract before you are sure the installation is going to be possible. If possible get things in writing, I had only spoken to this one person and had no emails or anything to back up what he had said. It was therefore his word against mine on what we had discussed about the installation and he didn’t seem to have listened at all. 
  • If you find a sales rep or a member of staff is not clear on the details or are being pushy or acting inappropriately ask to speak to someone else and report their behaviour. 
  • Speak to the main helpline where possible to confirm the sales reps identity, this random guy from Virgin just rang me up to change our service over (from a local number) – he could easily have been a con man but I did receive confirmation via our existing virgin media account of his appointment and the installation date so that backed him up, and we never got to the point of sorting out any payment plans. For example, I had someone call me when we first got the cats selling petplan, he did turn out to be legit but I wasn’t going to just hand over by bank details to some bloke who had just ring me up saying he was from pet plan. I took his name (so he would get the sale if he was legit) and the policy number (it was a really good deal) he had set up and rang the main helpline number, they confirmed it all and set up the policy and my payments from there. 
  • If someone is coming round to your house then it might be good to have someone else there, or do not let them inside. 
  • Do not let anyone you have not invited or are not expecting into your home, and do not give them any of your details, until you have confirmed who they are with their company. If you are expecting someone they should have an ID on them, check it before you let them in. My sister and I had a sales rep knock on our door once saying he was from a well known satellite TV company, it was pretty late and dark. Our door was around the side of the building and pretty secluded, and it was just us 2 home. We said we weren’t allowed to get satellite TV installed so thanks but no thanks, maybe he could just leave us with a card in case they changed their mind (i.e bye, don’t call us we’ll call you). He didn’t have a business card we could take or a phone number he could give us or even a card with his name on. He kept asking to come in as it was so cold/raining so we could ‘discuss their offers’. My alarm bells that he might not be legit were going off already and I was trying to end the conversation and shut the door, but every time I said ‘ok thanks bye then’ and started closing it he started asking us questions like ‘were we friends living together?’ ‘Did anyone else live there?’ I told him my boyfriend was upstairs (he wasn’t), gave up on politely ending the conversation and we just shut the door in his face and locked it.
  • Do not hang around talking to people on the doorstep if they've just turned up and you weren't expecting them, especially if they don’t seem quite right or pressure you to let them inside, if you don’t want their product/service/to give to their charity/find Jesus or whatever than just say no thanks and shut the door.
That's the last in the series on utilities and renting. I don't have any more rental specific examples (although I could happily share my experiences about a few more companies on here and see how far I can get without one of them noticing...), but if you have any queries feel free to send me a message!

No comments:

Post a Comment