Just how bad can deregulation make things.

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Anyone had recourse to deal with the electric suppliers recently?
Yesterday: Washing machine not working in a flat. OK it's the 13A fuse (32A MCB ring circuit no RCD) replace fuse all is well but .. fuses don't blow by themselves so I thought I'll check to see if the current consumption during heat/pump/spin are plausible. (E.g. there might be 20A being drawn by a broken heater - say). So I gently eased my tong-tester (clip on ammeter) around the meter tail.... flash and darkness ... as my eyes adjusted to the dark I saw the meter tail had _fallen_ out of the meter (meter replaced an Sub-sub-sub...contractor of Siemens Metering only a month or two ago).
Decided that whilst I _could_ pull the fuse, break the seals etc. and fix fault in minutes I would do the 'right' thing...
1) Phone EDF Emergency Eastern Service. (Formerly 24-7 Formerly Eastern Elec. Formerly the EEB). Menus & music one level (MM1). Nice guy. Asked me precisely which wire had falled out. Told me outgoing meter tails are handled by the supplier. Don't come back to us _they_ must fix it.
2) Got tenant to find recent bill. (Nobody except a verified cusotmer can speak to a supplier) Phone NPower. MM1. Another nice guy. Explain situation carefully. Put on hold. 2 minutes later... "This is the number you need...."
3) Phone "needed" number. MM2 (2 levels of menus & 'soothing' music). Actually was "Eastern Contracting" or some such. No person at all but the number your need is ... the one for EDF Emergency Eastern Service like I got from the phone book before at stage (1).
4) Try previous number again but take different route through MM2 to hold for an advisor. Engaged tone 3 minutes before giving up.
5) Try Npower again. MM1. Another nice guy. Explain situation carefully. Unfortunately this guy has short term memory problems.
NP:"You'll need a qualified electrician to fix it." ES:"Really! I thought this was seriously off limits." (Knowning full well it is). NP:"No, all you need is a qualified electrician." ES:"Just to check, we are talking about the connection on the meter itself." NP:"I'll just check with my supervisor."
... more music ...
NP:"Oops sorry, You can't fix it." ES:"Right-oh. When are _you_ going to fix it?" NP:"I'll give you a number." ES:"Been there, done that, I'll be back here. EDF won't fix meter outlet problems. _When_ are you going to fix it?" NP:"It does need fixing." ES:"Yep. It does indeed." NP:"I'll ring you back."
5 minutes later. NP:"It's OK for you to get a qualified electrician to fix it." ES:"We are talking about the wire which has falled out of the METER." NP:"I'll check and ring you back".
10 minutes later. NP:"Someone will be there in the next 9 hours." ES:"OK what's the job reference." (So I can progress chase if needed). ....
Experienced guy turns up one hour later, fixes it in 5 minutes. (Also checks all the other terminals at his own suggestion which saved me the bother of requesting he did so). He holds unprintable views about 'contractors'.
Tenant: It has taken a lot of work, I think things are simpler in Japan.
This is the 3rd time in about 6 years that I have directly experienced a serious fault on an electrical installation associated with a meter replacement. Twice it was loose tails, Once it was polarity reversal.
If I were a campaigning sort of bloke. I'd be saying this has got to stop: Negligent contractors. Squabbling and buck passing between the Electric companies. Door step energy sales.
We need: One emergency number like the gas. One emergency provider like the gas. The criminal offence of selling energy door to door.
With appologies to JRRT.
Three ring tones for the Powers of Hell. Seven for the Gen Co.s and yet some more. Nine for the Supply Co.s doomed to sell. One for a saleman at every door. In the Land of London where the shadows lie. No number to rule them all, nor one to find them, No number to ring them all for service by them, In the land of London where the shadows lie. 8-)
--
Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter.
The FAQ for uk.diy is at www.diyfaq.org.uk
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Ed Sirett wrote:

[snip oh so familar tale of dealing with the utilities]
The other side of the coin with this situation can work to your advantage. OK, in your case safety was an issue which made it serious, but I had a similar fiasco with gas.
Got an estimated bill that seemed high, went to read the meter (one of those with an LCD display and a transponder so the Gas Board van can drive down the road at 70mph and read 32 meters per second), display blank, rang supplier (Scottish Power) to report it, "Transco deal with meters etc., we'll pass it over to them". Of course, I forget about it until the next estimated bill arrives, go to read the meter, etc., etc. Usual excuses, "we've no record...", "we passed it to Transco, it's their fault....". <yawn>
After the fourth time I write to SP detailing everything and giving them 14 days to sort it or I'd pass it over to the Gas Consumer Council to sort out and asked them to state how they would deal with the bill if, when the meter was eventually fixed, it had reset to zero or, if it did show a non-zero reading how could they prove that it was accurate.
Eventually a Transco Engineer arrives, puts a new battery in the meter - blank display. Engineer tells me that these meters are crap; once the display dies they never work again (and the gas suppliers never used the van-based readers anyway). Fits a good old dial meter. I ring SP and ask them what they are going to do. They refunded all the money paid (except standing charges) since the last actual meter reading - ~18 months and 400 :-)
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Yes - I work for one :-p (I do the paperwork for the shift sparks)
In your case, you did exactly the right thing - you rang the local REC as it would be classed as an emergency call / off supply.
The local ex-incumbant electricity company should have responded.
If it had been a general metering problem, ie. meter change reqd because of a tariff change, then the correct course of action would be to contact the supplier (where you were directed the second time).
As it happens, the "9 hour response time" they quoted would be in breach of the guaranteed standards for someone attending - loss of supply should be a maximum of 3 hours, which also includes card meters not accepting cards (unless you knew they were still on supply). Note that that isn`t to fix the fault, but to have someone attend in the first instance.
I`d suggest sending the message you posted direct to energywatch :
www.energywatch.org.uk ...they got us into this mess...
I read an article this week about one of the 24-7 offices - most of the senior engineers had quit / left, which was starting to cause them major problems...
--
Please add "[newsgroup]" in the subject of any personal replies via email
* old email address "btiruseless" abandoned due to worm-generated spam *
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On Thu, 29 Jan 2004 01:53:13 -0000, Colin Wilson wrote:
<snip>

Err, no, actually they didn't. For all of those with short memories, it was actually the Tories and the idiot Parkinson, pursuing their insane political ideology of privatise everything.

That started in 1989, when all of the RECs decided they could dispense with the cumulative knowledge of their (in their view) overpaid and over qualified engineers and instead start to get untrained and unqualified people doing that work at a fraction of the cost. Now the customer is paying the price, and I for one don't have too much sympathy for the public, who were motivated by the prospect of a fast buck at the time of privatisation.
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wrote:

Privatisation of some things was probably for the general good of society, but I totally agree about privatising everything being a bad move.
The railway industry comes to mind. However I think that the reasoning behind that move may have been that the Tories knew the game was up in 97, so they rushed the rail privatisation thru to ensure it caused problems for the new administration.
Take us back to the days of steam trains I say! Caused lots of employment, and the burning of coal was as nature intended - because when a forest catches fire nature knows how to deal with the smoke. Not so with burning of diesel etc.
(That should get a few opinions motivated ;)).
PoP
Sending email to my published email address isn't guaranteed to reach me.
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On Thu, 29 Jan 2004 10:36:07 +0000, PoP wrote:

Hmm, I suspect that the *real* reason for privatising som many of our utilities was an attempt to cut back on public expenditure for asset replacement. Events, unfortunately have shown just how flawed that particular strategy was, particularly with the railways, considering just how much public money is now being pumped into the railways.
Thought for the day. The Electricity Supply Industry as a whole has an extensive rural overhead network. That network expanded massively with rural electrification schemes in the late 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. There are literally millions of wood poles out there, each with a notional life expectancy of 30 to 40 years. The RECs change a few hundred each year, but nothing like a pro rata proportion of the total. That means in the next few years there will be many tens probably hundreds of thousands of poles that will need to be changed. Now I wonder who will have to fund that asset replacement?
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Oh, yes. BL are no longer haemmoraging money producing shite that noone wants, people actually want to fly with BA, you no longer have to wait 3 months for a telephone, if you could get one at all, and the taxpayer is no longer shoring up crap like British Steel and the coal industry.
And the railways were shit when they were a nationalised industry, too.
Please try and keep your bigotry under control.
--
"The road to Paradise is through Intercourse."
[email me at huge [at] huge [dot] org [dot] uk]
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But now buy products made abroad. I wonder what the outcome would have been if BMW had been given a subsidy to run Rover properly until it had a viable set of products?

Not anymore, it would seem.

But the technology which allowed this was developed by the state owned company

Thought British Steel made good product?

Which couldn't compete with the reserves of oil and gas found in the North Sea. Or imported coal from countries with lower 'running costs'. Same now really as any other manufactured goods.
But just how long can a country survive on importing just about everything consumer, while exporting only services? And those services are themselves slowly being exported to other low cost countries as they develop.
It will end in tears, but not in my lifetime, so like the politicians, I couldn't give a damn.
--
*It ain't the size, it's... er... no, it IS ..the size.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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Privatisation was about making big bucks for the City. Of course it's possible that a massive private near monopoly might be better for the consumer than a state one in practice. But this says more about the politicians who employ the state monopoly bosses and constantly interfere with the running of them.
--
*Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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It's not clear that those members of The Public whose votes were responsible for making the particular flavour of privitasation happen are the ones suffering most from its adverse consequences...
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On 29 Jan 2004 13:01:13 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@hp.com wrote:

True, but conversely, I didn't hear too many members of the public speaking out against it.
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On Thu, 29 Jan 2004 15:56:23 +0000, a particular chimpanzee named

Then you may not have lived in places like Liverpool, South Yorkshire or Scotland, where the public were 'the enemy within'.
--
Hugo Nebula
"The fact that no-one on the internet wants a piece of this
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On Thu, 29 Jan 2004 13:01:13 +0000, stefek.zab wrote:

I was not in favour of the total free for all that we now have. I too was and am fairly pissed off with large company cultures (whether nationalized or not) that thought there activities were solely for the benefit of their employees rather for their customers/clients/subscribers/public.
What we have now though is all the effects of the old ways plus they are now dangerous and inefficient. I can see the need for a couple of suppliers to keep each other honest on their prices. I guess I'm pro competition within a framework of substantial enforced regulation [1] E.g. Electric cable is competitively priced but is made to a consistent high standard.
--
Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter.
The FAQ for uk.diy is at www.diyfaq.org.uk
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On Thu, 29 Jan 2004 20:57:31 +0000, Ed Sirett wrote:

Your pov, and you obviously base it on your experiences. I am firmly of the belief that standards of customer service were better before privatisation than after - but then I guess you'd say I would say that anyway.
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snipped-for-privacy@hp.com wrote:

I've always held a thought that it's going to be a cyclic thing. Big company gets broken into lots of small ones, small ones decide that to compete they must merge/takeover the opposition resulting in medium size companies. Medium size companies do the whole merge/takeover thing again with the end result nearly becoming a full circle.
--
James...
www.jameshart.co.uk
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make fees at *all* points in the cycle. Nice work if you can get it. Oh, and as far as I know, none of them take 'performance-related' fees - y'know, "we reckon this merger will increase returns to shareholders from the recent-historic rate of 11% in dividends and capital appreciation to at least 20%; we are so confident that we are pricing the fixed element of our fee at 25% of our usual rates, and instead will charge 0.5% of the increase in shareholder value over 11% over the next three years". Yeah, right... don the Kevlar anti-trotter helmets!
Stefek
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On 29 Jan 2004 23:14:20 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@hp.com wrote:

..... and true to style, squeal when the bright light is shone upon them.
In all my years in business, I can't recall meeting anybody in any of the management consultancies who impressed me in terms of their ability other than to turn a perfectly simple exercise into a major meal.
It's in the same genre as the market research companies who manage to obtain their data by asking vendors and then sell it back to them.....
.andy
To email, substitute .nospam with .gl
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On Thu, 29 Jan 2004 23:59:54 +0000, Andy Hall wrote:

In the mid 1980s Southern Electric had a Management consultancy team in - Proudfoot - to look at ways to restrcture and reorganise prior to privatisation. Their primary tool was long sheets of brown wrapping paper stuck to the walls. Draw your own conclusions as to the efficacy of their recommendations.
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Bumped into many management consultants over the years. Mostly they seem to be ex-managers who almost certainly lost their management posts through their own incompitence, but failed to realise this and still think they might be able to manage something. Only once did I come across a management consultant who was any good. He was working for a company I had some dealings with, and he wanted to talk with me as a customer of that company. That company were all very impressed with him after he'd worked with the for a month, and he was due to return for a followup session a few months later. Apparently he was booked up years in advance for new work, and turned down a good deal more than he took on.
--
Andrew Gabriel

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On Thu, 29 Jan 2004 00:00:46 +0000, Ed Sirett wrote:

<snipped all too familiar tale of woe>
As someone who worked in the industry for 35 years, I'm prompted to say that all those who were clamouring for privatisation are now reaping their rewards. The emphasis shifted in 1989 from customer service - which I wouldn't claim was perfect, but was far better then than now - to the bottom line of the balance sheet.
Please discuss: Any industry that publishes standards of customer service is acknowledging that it can't actually meet those standards.
Oh, and FWIW, I too have a dispute with NPower - TXU Energi as was - that has been dragging on for more than a year, reported to Energywatch, who did 4/5ths of Sweet F.A. for months, and which is still not resolved. Might soon be going to the media with this one, so watch this space.
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