Friday, April 09, 2010

British Gas Years (chorus)

So Ken, the bloke they sent round yesterday had real "grey hair" (experience) as they say in business, as well as real grey hair, and I felt strangely comforted by his appearance of knowing what he was doing. He sat on the countertop leaning in towards the boiler like an old-fashioned doctor sitting on a sick kid's bed, stethescope-in-ear.

"It looks like you need an inexplicable-part-A, and your inexplicable-part-B is pitted. Of course they never replace inexplicable-part-B, they'd rather just give you £600 towards a new boiler."

I asked if he carried parts. He raised an eyebrow in a just-in-time way. I asked if he could arrange for a first-thing visit tomorrow (now today) and he practically laughed in my face. I settled for an 8 till 12, silently plotting how to get someone to sit in as I have a big meeting in the afternoon.

(Sidenote: I find the logistics of running a metaphorical house (flat) strangely comforting; bizarrely enjoying the delicate balancing of grocery orders, childcare, shirt service, household maintenance, online banking, dry cleaning, green-lightbulb-sourcing, recycling and list making. It's as if I'm running a very large (and very long) project in the background to all the other projects I'm doing, and I was already working out where we could shower and who I could get to wait in. I bought my Mum a Chief Household Officer mug because she trained me well in the art of executive fridge management and listmaking, although I quite like the Messenger / Nappy bag too.)

Ken maintains his "I have a British Gas script, we can't get even the Queen a timed apppointment. A Technical Services Manager will not attend without three days notice (I'd asked for someone more knowledgable after the same guy came three times but I still had a problem). The first appointments go at three weeks notice. Rules-is-rules" stance.

He leaves, and tells me someone else will come tomorrow. I can't tell if he's got the day off or he's marked me as a difficult customer with whom he doesn't want to get involved, professionally speaking.

My conversation with NAM happened just after Ken's visit, and I felt like, hey, this'll get sorted.

About two hours later, I get a blocked call from Ken.

"Hi Mzzzz Froooz, it's Ken."

I say hi.

"You must know someone really important in British Gas. I've just had my earholes bent off by the NAM (who he implies his quite a bundle of rungs up the foodchain). I dunno who you know, but they've arranged two engineers to come at 8.30 tomorrow after they've got the parts, and they're booked out all day. They're replacing two inexplicable-part-As and also inexplicable-part-B, which is tricky to fit. They're bringing in a [boiler brand] specialist who knows your boiler inside out. My boss Tony'll come and oversee it. We've been told to fix this, and keep the customer happy. I don't know who you are, no-one gets this. Anyway, I'm off tomorrow, but hope it all goes well."

I thank him, and mention that I'd sung his praises in relation to his experience. I hope he has a good day off. I say this vaguely realising days off are as much for funerals and queing at banks as they are for nice things.

Moral of the story: (a) Top-Down customer service chasing clearly gets better results than Bottom-Up. If you can get out of the customer contact centre loop. (b) Keep everyone's mobile number, even if it's for 5 years and you can't imagine why you'd ever call them again.

Proof of the pudding: let's see if we have lift-off when I get back from my big meeting this afternoon. Otherwise, we'll be entering our second heating/hot-water free week. Least we have nice neighbours. Least it's Spring(ish).

1 comment:

aka k said...

Do you think Paul F******* could get the BG "engineer" who fitted a new central heating pump to come and put back the capstan head he "borrowed" from our shower pump valve to work the valves on the central heating pump? I've optimistically emailed BG to ask for back. No acknowledgement to date.