When I got an email asking me to submit online meter readings for my gas and electricity, I suddenly noticed that I had built up a Â£500 of credit.Â Â Further investigation of my account revealed that I had not actually been billed for my power for almost a year.
This is one of the downsides of paperless billing.Â It’s fabulous for the trees but, for household management, it means that you don’t keep your finger on the pulse in quite the same way as with proper quarterly bills that drop through the letterbox and require attention.
After it had been ascertained that, once the amount owed had been paid, there was still over Â£200 left in credit, I was told that it would be possible to reduce my direct debit payments from Â£50 to Â£40.
“Hold on,” says I.Â “If my bill for a year was less than Â£300 and my account is Â£200 in credit, why am I still paying such a large MONTHLY direct debit?”
The operator went away to check and announced that the credit would be refunded and she would call me back to confirm this had been authorised and discuss a revised direct debit.
Naturally, I found myself chasing this up two days later.Â The repayment would be forthcoming, but the computer insisted that the new figure for my direct debit would actually have to go UP to Â£79 per month because there was now no money left in the kitty to carry forward towards the October bill.
When I politely insisted that this was not going to happen, they suggested taking it back to Â£50 again.Â Apparently, the computer wants to ensure that I have enough in the account when the next bill arrives in October.
As I explained, a payment of Â£50 had gone out by direct debit only that morning which, by my reckoning, was close to covering two months of the three relating to the next bill.
After going back and forth, I finally got their agreement to take it down to Â£40 since that was the figure the computer originally suggested.Â Because there has been a mess up, they cannot tell what my actual average consumption is – it doesn’t work by dividing the amount used by the number of months that have elapsed since the last bill it would seem.
So, in October, if the computer does not recognise that I am ridiculously in credit, I have to call them to renegotiate a lower figure.
Anyone got any better ideas… that don’t involve four letter expletives?