Saturday, 12 November 2011

Alternating current account

Like many people, I pay for my electricity by monthly direct debit, spreading the cost evenly across the year.  As you know, the idea is that a surplus at the end of the summer covers the extra consumption during the winter. 

So when I got my six-monthly bill the other day I was pleased to see that they owed me about £150.  Good, I thought, that’ll see me through the next few months when it’s colder, darker and more boring.  The system’s working.  Then I read on.  “…which we will refund to your bank account on or soon after 6 November 2011.”  Hang on, though: that means that, come the spring, I’ll owe them money; and I bet they’ll put my monthly payments up in response, which means next autumn they’ll owe me more money, which they’ll refund, which means … you get the picture.  A positive feedback loop.

I remember a variant of this a few years back, when instead of issuing a refund, they proposed to reduce my payments over the winter, which would mean … oh, I can’t go on.  On that occasion I phoned them up and explained.  “Oh yes, the computer does that,” the call centre told me.  “We have to go in and override it.  We get this all the time.”

I don’t think I can be bothered to phone this time, but if I do I want a word with that computer.


  1. "you're the 15th person I've had to tell this morning - there's no demand"

  2. For several years we had estimated bills, even when the meter had been read. Then, the meter was changed. Fortunately, we took a note of the reading then and details of the new meter, because the next reading was based on the old meter.

  3. I have a deep detestation of energy companies. They are manned by morons and nincompoops.

  4. I think I pay my electricity bill with a standing order. And every year they write suggesting that I might like to increase the payment and nearly every year we have a nice little chat on the phone and agree that I don't actually need to.
    (I have to say, I leave the nice girl on the phone to talk to the computer. My own already gives me more than enough mouth)