Friday, 14 August 2009

Lifes a Gas (but not without hot water....)

So, if you read my blogs (especially if you've followed them since the My Space blog days ), you'll know that its never long before another mini catastrophe hits me, my home or one of my extended friends or family.

We have been enjoying our lovely new house (except the broken toe/daughters chin incidents),and have finally unpacked.

Like most rented houses, we have a Pay as you Go electric and gas meters, and like alot of these have these days, the person before us had run up considerable debts on both. So every time we've topped up, ten pounds has lasted a day if we're lucky.

Then, on Wednesday evening I put ten pounds on the gas card, cooked dinner and then that was it. But by Thursday morning the meter was empty. We had sent a copy of our rental agreement to the company, but we had to wait for it to be processed.

I rang the company at 8am as soon as they opened, and explained that I wasn't willing to waste more money on either meter, and could they send someone to rejig them to remove the debts. I was told that was no problem and promised that they'd send someone in the next 3 hours.

Which they did. A man came and within 5 minutes sorted the electric, but it was apparently "more than his jobsworth" to touch the gas meter.

It would appear that since the monopoly on gas and electric was lifted meaning that Gas companies can also supply electric and vice versa, the powers that be didn't also allow the company to sort out both meters they supply to. Which is, frankly, daft, as you then have to rely on a separate company you have no link to when something goes wrong. And your provider can only "ask them nicely" to do the job.
About an hour later, a man from the separate company, Accuread, came to do the same to the gas meter as had been done in 5 minutes to the electric.
I should have know something was wrong when I walked past the meter cupboard and saw him sitting there with a blank expression over half an hour later. Ed had to ask what was happening in the end.

It turned out he'd made the situation worse-no debt had been wiped, and now we couldn't use any card to top it up, and he couldn't put any money on to tide us over. He advised us to ring Southern Electric (which is a 0845 number) and ask them to ring his company again. I asked why he couldn't do this himself, but he shrugged.

So I phoned Southern Electric for the second time that day, at 11.30am. And again I was promised that they would ring Accuread, and that the meter would be sorted within 4 hours.

Now, at this point I need to point out a few things.

1) Chrissy had found a pen. And had drawn all over herself from head to toe and back again. The pen however would not come off with wipes.

2) Our cooker is gas. All of it. So I couldn't boil pots on the stove for hot water. Nor could I cook. I don't generally cook microwave meals, so I didn't have a supply to hand.

3)It was that rare thing in the UK yesterday-a brilliantly sunny day. And we were stuck indoors.

By 3.30pm, still no meter man. So again I rang the 0845 number, and this time I demanded to know what was going on, and explained that not only did I want a refund on the debt we had repaid for someone else, but that Southern Electric, Accuread or the stupid Gas meter "repair" man (or dis-repair) would be sent a bill for takeaway.

To give him his due, the poor guy on the phone (Duncan he was called), was very apologetic, and promised a good will payment. He also said he'd phone Accuread and tell them to send someone ASAP.

At 5.30, we got a phone call from another Accuread staff member. He had gone to our old house, and now he would have to speak to his boss to get clearance to come back down the hill (5 minutes by car) to our new house.

At 7pm, I was livid. We had no hot water, no cooker, I had been stuck indoors all day, and was at the end of my tether. Again, I phoned Southern Electric, and was put through to someone who wanted all the same meter info as they'd had at 8am, who said we would have to phone back at 8am today as Accuread staff don't work after 6pm, and basically didn't give a toss.

So I demanded to speak to her manager.

And she was lovely. Rhianna what a legend!

I explained everything, and she said she understood why I was so annoyed, as it wasn't like I'd phoned at 6pm to sort something out. She said she had no idea why the Accuread engineer had gone to our old house, as Southern Electric hadn't given them that address, and that she didn't understand why the engineer who'd broken the meter hadn't just phoned a colleague to come sort it out straight away.

After saying she would investigate and get back to me, I had a brain wave.

1471 is a wonderful invention, and thank you BT for inventing it.

I simply rang 1471, and what do you know, the engineer who had gone to the address was the last number. So Mr D rang him up.

He was so not happy! He demanded to know how we'd got his number, refused to give his name, and when Ed demanded to know why he hadn't come out to the new address he said he'd been told not to.

So when Rhianna rang back, I gave her his number. She rang him, and he was even more rude to her, so now, as well as telling Accuread to pay us compensation for the upset caused, she has reported the guy (as lets face it, not going to be hard to find out who the number belongs to). She also promised she'd ring Accuread personally in the morning to get someone to us.

Which she did, and this time they sent someone who knew what they were doing, and-wonder of wonders-could find the right address.

He had to replace the whole meter, such was the bodge job the first guy did, but we are no longer paying for someone else's debt and I had a gorgeous hot bath this afternoon, and I cooked dinner on the stove!

What a palaver!

And why does it always seem that for every helpful, courteous person you talk to, there's always 3 who exhibit a bored, couldn't care less attitude to cancel it out?

I shall let you know what their version of "Goodwill" is.


Yes, bit of a plug!

Yours truly is in this weeks issue of Real People magazine, page 54, I'm giving advice to a Mum-to-be who already has a toddler. I had my two within 16 months so know it can be a nightmare (for example, Chrissy tried more than a few times to pull Edward off my lap, and there was also the trampette incident whereby she put the edge of her trampette on the top of Edwards bouncy chair-then proceeded to bounce).

Check it out, its 70p an issue (I've bought 3!)


Chrissy song lyric-update!

Yes, we have successfully turned her attention from the naughty song lyrics as sung by Lilly Allen. She now loves Pixie Lotts "Mama Do", or more specifically the Ot Oh bits. Bless. She also now knows the words to the teletubbies theme tune too. Which is annoying, but better than what she sang before.


I love EBay-I am an addict!

But like me, your under 5 may be a massive fan of In The Night Garden (or Shite Garden as Ed christened it).

Chrissy is obsessed-she learnt to count to ten due to the Pontipines).

But most of the tat that is sold to accompany the programme costs upwards of 20 pounds. Which is ridiculous when there's everything from cuddly toys, talking toys, curtains, bedding and even sofa beds (yes, sofa beds) in the collection.

So, now that she has grown out of Winnie the Pooh, and we have passed that onto Edward for his room, we knew that the thing she would most want for a room scheme is In The Night Garden.

This is where EBay is wonderful.

As kids grow out of stuff so quick, there is literally an abundance of hardly used stuff on offer.

In one day I got-

A duvet cover set (never used),
A rug (2 months old)
A Haa Hoo bean bag and DVD (New)
A pair of curtains (hung once and match the duvet)

Price-25 pounds!

I saved 50 pounds in total. Great!

Also, the sticker-rounds are 15 quid a packet for 8 (not very many to do a whole bedroom).

But Chrissy got given by her cousin a set of activity books for Christmas, which have just been lying round and occasionally coloured. But in the gate leaf of one of the books, was two pages of huge brightly coloured stickers-cost of book 3.99 (available from Smiths). You may need a bit of Pritt Stick, but my daughters face when she walked in her bedroom was amazing.

So, don't be scammed when you know they'll grow out of it in a year! Check out EBay first.

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