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British Gas Homecare Timeline

March 24, 2006

I subscribe to the Homecare service offered by British Gas - you pay them a monthly fee and they send round someone to fix your boiler/plumbing/electrics etc any time something goes wrong, free of charge. It's generally a pretty good service and every time I've used it in the past for the plumbing they've been great - they've come round quickly and sorted the problem. My subscription to the cover service has easily paid for itself already and I would reccomend it.

Except. Well, this week they've not lived up to their usual standards of service. In fact, I would go so far as to say it's the worst example of customer service I've ever received, and I'm an NTL customer so that takes some doing! I want to get this off my chest so here's a timeline:

Monday 20/3/2006 7:00am:
We wake up to find fusebox has tripped and none of the plug sockets in the house work. Upon investigation I find that the pipes under the kitchen sink have developed a drip and water has dripped onto the plug socket into which my washing machine and dishwasher are plugged. I curse the bloke who fitted kitchen and put plug sockets directly underneath water pipes. I ring the Homecare number and arrange for a plumber to come round the following day. Homecare persuade me to up my level of cover to include electrics.

Tuesday 21/3/2006:
Cres takes the day off to wait in for plumber. Plumber comes but after he goes the drip starts again. I ring to arrange for a plumber to some round to fix the drip and for an electrician to come round to fix the broken plug sockets. I am given a 12 midday to 18:00 timeslot. I use up all of my remaining flexi-time and then some to take wednesday afternoon off.

Wednesday 22/3/2006 14:00:
Homecare plumber arrives and fixes drip. While working, he expresses surprise that the electrician hasn't been yet.

16:00:
I wonder where the electrician is. I ring to confirm that one is booked and Homecare assure me that they can see it on the system "Electrician between 12 and 6pm".

18:00:
Still no electrician. I ring to find out why and am told that because I made a plumber appointment the same day, their system did not send the electrician appointment to the planning department who assign and dispatch electricians. I tell them that I can take no further time off work. Homebase tell me that they will send out an electrician that evening between now and 10pm.

18:30:
I receive a phone call from the aforementioned planning department that they cannot send an electrician out this evening since the 6pm-10pm slots are reserved for emergencies only. Fair enough, I think, I don't want genuine emergencies to go unattended just because I have a busted plug socket and can't run my washing machine.

I explain that taking another morning or afternoon off is not an option. The planning department manager tells me that she can give me an 8am-10am timeslot for an electrician. I take it because if the electrician comes round first thing then I can be in work for 10am which doesn't count as time off if you work late.

Thursday 23/6/2006 9:00am:
Still no electrician. I ring my boss to explain that I might be in after 10am. Luckily, boss is very decent about it. I ring Homecare to confirm that an electrician is coming. I am told "Yes, I can see it on the system, and electrician between 8 and 10".

10:15:
No electrician. I call a taxi to go into work.

11:30:
I ring Homecare to find out what happened. I am told "We don't do 2-hour timeslots for electricians". THEN WHY DID YOUR PLANNING DEPARTMENT GIVE ME AN 8-10 TIMESLOT? You'd think that their electrician appointment planning department would be aware of Homecare's policy on how they plan their electrician appointments. I ask to speak to a supervisor. Supervisor tells me that he will escalate it to his manager who will call me back. I ask him to ring me after 1pm 'cos I am off to lunch.

14:30:
No phonecall from manager. I ring Homecare to find out what is going on. I am told "The electrician is on his way to you now sir". I explain that I am now at work (as I told them at 11:30), so there is no point sending an electrician out. I ask to speak to someone from the planning department to see if I can get them to give me a weekend appointment since I can take no further time off work. I am told that she will get a member of the department to call me back. I leave my work number and tell them I will be going home at 6pm. I ask if they can guarantee that someone from planning will ring me by 6pm. I am told "Yes, without fail."

17:00:
I get tired of waiting for planning to ring and call Homecare again. I am told by the nice lady in the call centre that she will chase them up.

18:10:
I go home.

Today, Friday 24/3/2006:
I ring to find out why planning haven't called me. Nice lady in call centre says that she will put me through to someone. Nice bloke from customer relations comes onto the line and makes conciliatory and apologetic noises. This is the turning point. Within an hour I am put through to someone who explains that they can't do weekend appointments at all, full stop, not even for the Pope, but that he will bypass the (obvioulsy defective) electrician appointment planning system, speak to an electrician directly and tell him to make me his first call of the day at 8am the following Tuesday.

So that's where we are. I'm going to have to run an extension cord across my kitchen floor to run the washing machine if I want clean clothes between now and Tuesday, and they'd better turn up.

UPDATE: They did. Finally. I only had to wait a week!

Posted by Jonah at March 24, 2006 11:35 AM