Shock horror: Beware electric companies pulling the plug

18 Dec

Isn’t choice a wonderful thing? And never is it more welcome than when some company or other crosses you and you tell them to stick it up their you-know-what.

I’m still quietly congratulating myself at the fact I have deprived a couple of airlines of thousands of pounds over the past few years. Voting with my purse was the only way I could protest meaningfully after being ripped off by their devious practices. So I refused to fly with them again.

One airline went too far when they charged me a £40 ‘administration fee’ in addition to their standard £30 charge to change the name of my travelling companion on a Manchester-Alicante flight. Since the original ticket had cost exactly £70, it amounted to paying for the ticket again just to alter the name of the person travelling.

And I kicked the other company into space when they refused to pay me for an article I had been commissioned to write for their in-flight magazine. Why wasn’t I paid? Because they sacked the editor who commissioned it before she could publish my feature (which was of course a brilliant piece of literary genius).

Between them, those two episodes cost me less than £200 – a tiny fraction of what those two airlines subsequently lost in fares and goodwill from Granny Grump and her family. Having said that, I’ve now wiped the slate clean, partly because the flight options from Alicante and Murcia to the UK are becoming fewer and fewer every year.

Maybe I took things too far with my boycott but isn’t having the option of going elsewhere just great when there’s a viable alternative?

The big problem arises when you have only one choice – namely take it or leave it. Which is precisely where I found myself when HC Energia, the only electricity supplier then operating on my urbanisation, cut off my supply without any warning.

It’s not the sort of thing that happens in the UK. At least not without plenty of notification and some serious defaulting with one’s payments.

My ‘crime’ was that there wasn’t quite enough in my account to fund one of HC Energia’s direct debit demands. As I had no overdraft facility, my Spanish bank rejected it. Nobody told me, of course – or I would have coughed up the few euros involved at the drop of a switch.

Instead, the electricity company cut off my supply, Tommy Cooper style. Just like that.

I was in England at the time so I wasn’t left in the dark. At least, not literally. The first I knew of the problem was when my keyholder phoned to say there was a notice glued to my front door in big red letters saying the electricity had been cut off.

Several days, several large banknotes and several mini heart attacks later, I managed to have the supply reconnected. I was also, as you can imagine, furious and immediately decided I wanted no more to do with a company that clearly had no concern for the welfare of its customers.

The problem was that HC Energia was the only company supplying our urbanisation. So it was a case of ‘don’t waste your Energia trying to switch cos there ain’t no-one else’.

I had no alternative to bite my tongue and stick with the devil I knew. And thankfully this particular demon has never given me any more hell.

That’s presumably because since I was cut off, I have always made sure there are funds in my account to meet every direct debit.

The fact that since last year I have had the option of switching to another supplier like Iberdrola may also be playing its part. But I doubt it….because I gather the devil I don’t know is also a dab hand at cutting people off at the slightest excuse.

Talk about a power struggle!

Published in Female Focus magazine, June 2010


2 Responses to “Shock horror: Beware electric companies pulling the plug”

  1. Christopher Gamble December 28, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    It seems to me the large conglomerate corporations such as Telefonica, Endessa and others lead the way in a ‘non-customer’ orientated dictatorial, stubborn old fashioned, idiotic, navel gazing, bullying way of doing business aginst all best practice ideals in the rest of Europe, USA, Chine, the civilised world.
    Telefonica charge by the minute through their mobile services even though a European directive says they must now only charge by the secind. They charge for connection fees when you are not connected and now choose to disconnect a phone that is in full use if you don’t soend YOUR money in terms of YOUR credit within a month or so. Endessa are probably at the centre of hell in terms of awful customer sewrvices. They refuse to acknowledge any change of address even though tyhe address on the title deeds is different and the address they have simply does not exist. they send bills to dead peoplke in unknown addresses and then take the meter away from innocent people who had no idea that they owed any money because they had written and spoken to Endessa so many times it it beyond any comprehension. When are companies in Sp[ain going to ever learn. They will be left stranded in a business world that rapidly moves to customer services excellence whilst they focus on ripping off clients, ignoring mail and phone calls, shrugging their shoulder4s at customer complaints. Banks are probably consistently the worst performers. They6 take money withjout permission and then charge for it! They blatently lie and hide behind obscure red tape. I personally have been the victim of mortage fraud by Barclays Bank in Los Barrios, Cadiz. In spite of explaining t9o them and writing to them that they are taking money to pay a mortgae that is NOT MINE the branch say they have no authority to change the debits whilst the head office blame the branch. Its simply theft. So I am lewft with no choice but to close ther account but they ignore this too. Until Spaanish companies experoence paradigm shift to putting customers first then things will only get worse. And until people protest and complain, sadly things won’t change but this seems to go against the grain of consumerism here. The only good thing is there is opprtunity for firms to differentiate by actually providing reasonable services and keeping promises.
    Will it take a complete financial meltdown and forced change for anything to9 improve…? Probably not even that will have any effect…it will take a hundred years or more for Spanish business to not just learn but accept the concept of CUSTOMER SERVICES. Any firm taht charges you premium rate to conatct them to enquire or complain does not have anyone’s interest but their own at heart. Personally, in my experience, I would not trust any Spanish business of any kind to tell the truth in any respect anymore…i will go out of my way just NOT to buy or deal with any of them. I accept sadly that changing suppliers can add to the frustration as they are no better but change needs to be forced….it won’t happen in a passive world. Chanage you phone comapny from Telefonica now…try ONO or any of the others. And if anyone can recommend an alternative to Endessa please let me know.

  2. Anne December 28, 2010 at 5:55 pm #

    It’s extraordinary how efficient they can be when it came to cutting you off. I only wish the legal system in Spain was as efficient and that we could make the Banks accountable for their malpractice!
    “And until people protest and complain, sadly things won’t change but this seems to go against the grain of consumerism here “. How true.
    We have been trying to mobilise people to protest and complain about the Banks non provision of Bank Guarantees and the impact relating to disgraceful delays within the legal system for quite some time now (i.e. the Banks not adhering to existing Spanish Law) so we would be eternally grateful if those who feel strongly about the Banks and their treatment of clients would sign Keith’s petition which is trying to make the Banks accountable.
    We are also trying to mobilise good lawyers to be more pro-active towards improving consumer rights in Spain and depend upon everyone who have sound grievances within the real estate sector to come forward with evidence.

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