June 17, 2010
Ranty Picks A Fight
We-ell, this is more about self-defence. It is a fight nevertheless.
Just to set the scene, (for those newer readers that may not know, I have just relocated Clan Ranty), this tale is about electricity providers, their ineptitude, and their unseemly haste in bringing in the bailiffs.
Sadly for them they picked the wrong dog to kick.
So, we've moved in, and thanks to a cock up by my telephony provider, (let's call them Bee Tee), I had no landline for two weeks. My cellphone provider, (let's call them Oh Too), have zero coverage in my new neighbourhood. I mention this because when you set up a new account with a utility company they pretty much insist on a number they can reach you on. So I delayed signing up with one until we had a usable number.
Once the phone line was in, the first call I made was to my (old) utility company asking them to provide service at Ranty Barracks. They were delighted and asked me for a meter reading, which I supplied. This was on April 14 of this year. (Two weeks after we had moved in).
Seven days later I get a letter from the last owners' utility company urging me to pay for the electricity I had used in the 14 days prior to the "switch-over" from one provider to another. They demanded £180.00. For 14 days. A little miffed, I called them and said I would be happy to pay for electricity used, but that it would be a cold day in hell before I sent them £180. They concurred, and promised to adjust the figure and send me a new demand.
The new demand arrived seven days later looking exactly like the first one. £180.00, or, (this was new and different), they would appoint a debt collection agency to recover the money I had "refused" (their words) to pay. Cue another phone call from me to them.
Same company, different operative. Same conversation, same outcome. "Leave it to us Captain, we will fix everything".
14 days later I get a new letter. This one, from a debt recovery company, says, "INTENTION OF COURT ACTION". The utility company, without a single word to me, had "instructed them to take the most appropriate action to recover the debt".
I think I was supposed to be terrified and immediately send off £180 to the debt recovery goons. I was not. And I didn't.
Instead, I (CR) called the utility company (UC) and here is an almost verbatim transcript of the conversation:
UC: Can I have your account number please?
CR: I don't have an account with you. BTW, is this being recorded?
UC: Yes it is. I will need an account number.
CR: There is an account number on the letter you sent, but I didn't ask for it, and I don't have a contract with you.
UC: Erm, what is the account number?
CR: [I give him the number]. Just to be clear, can you confirm that I do not have a contract with you?
UC: I, er, well, that is, I er, don't know. I suppose you do.
CR: No, I don't. Please make a note of that indisputable fact. I never asked you for anything. I simply moved into my new home and later learnt that you provided service for the last owner. No paperwork, and no verbal contract binds us, do you agree?
UC: Look, I really don't know about this stuff. I just work in collections. When are you going to send us the £180?
UC: Oh! Well, the debt recovery company will be around to make erm, arrangements for you to pay it.
CR: Cool! I look forward to that. I just have a couple of questions.
CR: If I don't have a contract with you, what makes you think I have a contract with the debt recovery goons?
UC: Well, I don't, that is to say I'm not really.....[I never did find out what he wasn't]
CR: Never mind. Last question: did your company sell the "debt" to the debt recovery clowns?
UC: I don't know. I heard once in the canteen that that is how it works but I can't say for sure. What difference does that make?
CR: All the difference in the world. If this does go to court I want you to imagine my statement. It will be something like this: "M'lud, a company I have no contract with, sold my "debt" to another company I don't have a contract with involving £180 for electricity that I could not possibly have used in the period claimed. One of the companies that I don't have a contract with bought the alleged debt from the other company that I don't have a contract with. In the eyes of the law this debt has been settled. I'm off, have a lovely day".
UC: Oh. Well, what can I do?
CR: For one thing, you can advise your legal team to make a copy of this recording and keep it safe. I will be demanding that the court listen to it. Bye bye now.
Yes, I know I was a little harsh with the collections person, but it reads worse than the actual conversation. I was stood up during the entire conversation (it's an old sales trick, it helps you think faster), and I deliberately put a smile on my face while talking. This comes through even on a phone call. It will be heard during playback, if we ever get that far.
There have been further developments since. I have contacted my utility company and asked them why they never sent the meter readings to the company threatening me with legal action. I was told, and offered proof, that they had called them on April 15th. Within 24 hours of me telling them the meter readings they had sent them to the old provider. I missed it out of the transcript above but I also asked what the problem was and why they were chasing so hard and they claimed that my utility company had NOT sent the readings to them. So I have that lie on tape as well.
It was the bullying, the threats, and the engagement of the debt recovery gorillas that got me riled. They were way too soon. Too eager to use the cudgel. That, and they were all the way wrong.
I like to think that I surprised the shit out of them.
The goons were supposed to visit me last Friday. I watched my drive carefully. No show.
I freely confess that there is a part of me that wants them to show up.
So that I can tell them to fuck off.