Monday 18 April 2016

BEFORE breakfast I go out and take the electricity meter readings. This is gonna be one of these days.

I go through all our electricity bills, and note all the peak and off-peak usage, kWh rates and other info in a spreadsheet and try and work out why (a) our bill has rocketed and (b) we use so much electricity.

Actually, it looks like we’ve used a similar amount in the same period last year, but to be charged over a grand for three months seems a bit excessive.

I call SSE Hydro and leave a call back request. The guy that calls back is helpful and offers a new plan with rates quite a lot lower than we’re paying. Now, in my book, long-standing, customers should be looked after and rewarded for their loyalty…not kept on excessive rates while new customers (who are likely to switch as soon as a cheaper offer comes along) get a better deal. It’d be like me charging folks who regulalrly turn up to my shows £10 a ticket, but giving first timers half-price entry. It’s all fucking wrong.

I politely query why I’d have been kept on a high rate when there’s lower ones available (still on Economy 10 and with the same provider!). While the bills state I could potentially save £40/£50 a year by switching plans at the risk of losing some other benefits, none have indicated I could save £7/800 a year! I’m given some waffle about these rates only being introduced in the last few days. I make my point, but no point in shooting the messenger…this guy has done nothing but help.

We switch to a different version of the same plan (!?!) with the same provider.

We’ll look at what we need to do to reduce our power consumption too. I go outside and vent some of my frustrations by thumping the swingball for five minutes then realise the wind is threatening to blow our new swing up the hill. I added some washers and spring washers to the canopy  screws to try and keep the thing from tilting at the slightest breeze but it’s not really worked. We unscrew the canopy and stick it in the office ’til the hurricanes subside.

Having calmed down somewhat I embark on the next to-do list nightmare. BT.

The promise of a response/follow-up to my call about broadband speed a fortnight ago hasn’t materialised and there’s no change in the up/download speed. As mentioned, we can live with the poor 6mb/sec download speed, but the 0.3mb/sec upload speed is pitiful. And I don’t really care that there’s no guarantees about upload speed, 0.3mb/sec is useless. Unfit for purpose. I was told there was an issue with the speed – it would be reported to the network team and they’d get back to me in 48 hours.

I phone and request a call back. I get no apology for the lack of response. The pleasant, but hard to understand, girl at the other end starts the whole process again and tells me she’ll ‘clear the traffic’ from the exchange. The whole process has me on the phone for ages and…no change. I’m told to call back tomorrow if there’s no improvement. Jeez. I don’t have time for this…

There’s another BT issue. Our monthly bill has jumped from £42.50 to £73.50. I’ve only just noticed this while sorting my accounts…they’ve been taking the extra since December. I check the BT website and work out the call/broadband/line rental monthly cost and it should be….£42.50!

I contact BT via the online chat this time…but they want to call me. OK. They call and tell me I’m being transferred to someone in the UK. Seems that my contract has expired. Erm…I’ve had no notice of contracts expiring by email or post. Turns out the stuff sent from BT has been stopped by my Spamarrest account and because BT’s emails are automated, they don’t respond to the ‘click here to prove you’re a real person’ responses.

So – I guess I have to accept some of ‘the blame’, but for fuck sake you’d expect when you sign up for a service it would run until you cancel…and if there’s a change in price you have to either accept it, or lose the service. Doubtless the ‘small print’ has BT’s get out clause but I reckon that’s unreasonable.

Once again, the reward for loyalty and staying with a service provider is being charged more.

Another analogy. BT’s approach would be like taking out a magazine subscription for a year…you pay the agreed amount of money, get the magazine for a year, but when your sub runs out, they don’t tell you and start taking nearly double the cover price (without your permission). That doesn’t happen, so how come BT can get away with this?

I get no empathy from the guy on the phone. I’m basically told it’s my problem and the onus is on me to renew my BT contract each year before it runs out or pay the penalty. And the broadband speeds are still shite.

So…an entire day wasted on trying to sort out utilities and billing instead of getting any important jobs done means I dont get a start on my accounts and US tour routing ’til after dinner. That’s our night sorted….

Nevermind, tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) I’ll be doing another Facebook Live stream direct on my Facebook Page with another unplugged preview of a track from the forthcoming EP, gig announcements and live Q&A/chat.