A powerful way to put customers off

You do sometimes wonder how quite big companies manage to screw up so badly when dealing with customers. Jagdish Radia got in touch to give some unwelcome publicity to Scottish Power after he felt he had no alternative but to complain to the Energy Ombudsman.

He took over Central Avenue Service Station in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, last July in addition to his site in Birmingham. He wrote: "When an attempt was made to read the electricity meter on that date it was found not to be working correctly and no meter readings could be taken. This was reported to Scottish Power the same day and some three months later absolutely nothing has been done to rectify the problem."

He did get an email in August asking for photos of the faulty meter which he immediately sent. Another email promised installation of a new meter but no engineer showed up. The broker intervened and was told that the landlord had cancelled it. The landlord categorically denied doing this and has himself written to the ombudsman.

As Jagdish says: "He is as keen as I am to have a working meter at the premises." This rumbled on until October at which point he told the ombudsman: "To date I have still not received any contact from Scottish Power."

The investigation officer eventually reported back in late December. She said she was satisfied with Jagdish’s version of events and that Scottish Power’s records showed that he first reported the faulty meter on August 8, 2017 by email. She also said there was no evidence that the landlord had asked for the first appointment to be cancelled. She wrote: "I conclude that the two failed meter appointments during your tenancy period, and therefore Scottish Power being unable to issue a bill for you, are shortfalls in customer service by Scottish Power. The problem has been that the meter is a ’3-phase meter’, which needs a specialised engineer to attend and there seems to have been a lack of resource at the third-party contractors who carry out the engineering appointments for Scottish Power."

Jagdish has since sold this business and the officer said Scottish Power would need to contact the new tenant/landlord about arranging a meter exchange. The company will then use consumption on the new meter to work out the bill for Jagdish’s four months’ tenancy "on the best available tariff".

Interestingly she added that, for each failed meter appointment, there was a standard industry fee payable of £30. Since she upheld the complaint, she directed Scottish Power to issue an apology and to make a credit of £70 as a goodwill gesture.

And here is another thing to be learned.

She pointed out that Ombudsman Services: Energy is not a compensatory body and does not award formal com-pensation. But they do award goodwill payments which reflect the level of inconvenience and shortfalls in service.

All Jagdish has to do is decide whether to accept her resolution in full and final settlement of his complaint. Last time we spoke he was still mulling it over.

Shopping around for the right partner

Mandeep Singh’s site, Chug Fuel Stop in Huddersfield, used to have a Londis shop. It was great on the delivery front but then the rep kept demanding specific requirements like take out the ice cream and put the magazines in a different location. They fell out.

So when the site had a major refit Mandeep decided to give Bestway a go as he needed a decent fascia (Best One) and promotions. This isn’t working out well either.

He previously used Batleys (part of the group) but the deliveries were full of hiccups. "The rep says Best One has a different system and, it claims, state-of-the-art equipment, using scanners," he says.

But it hasn’t worked out that way. Only once or twice have his two weekly deliveries been right. He is contemplating not putting up the Best One fascia he has to decide this month.

He rang to ask me what I thought about other groups.

They all have their faults was all I could say. I am on a closed Facebook group called Booker Symbols. It has 167 retailer members and you should see what they post especially the Premier retailers.

Frying pan and fire immediately spring to mind.