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Old 03-03-2020, 06:49 AM   #1
hazel
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I'm exhausted! You have to fight for every little thing nowadays.


I remember a time, not too long ago, when the only thing you had to beware of with energy companies was not to let them put you automatically onto the Standard Variable Tariff when your annual contract ran out. Because in those days, SVT was much higher. Then the UK government brought in a cap on SVT, so now the contract prices are higher to compensate. There are too many different contracts for anyone to make sense of, so you go on a switching site.

I switched to my present company in May last year. They agreed on a monthly payment of 38, which seemed reasonable to me. Over the summer I actually built up a large surplus with them, as I don't use much gas then and get most of my electricity off the solar panels on my roof. Of course I expected this surplus to be consumed by my winter gas bill and was not greatly surprised when I noticed a 25 deficit in February. I was surprised when I got an email proposing to put up my payments to 55, an increase of 44%. This despite that fact that I was back in surplus by the beginning of this month.

Today (after hanging on the telephone for over 30 minutes listening to recorded music) I had a long discussion with a nice young Irish woman about the utter unreasonableness of this behaviour. At first she tried to put me off, but I took her step by step through the bills and payments over the last six months and she finally agreed that it was indeed unreasonable to put up the payments by so much just at the beginning of spring when, judging by last year's figures, my energy consumption is about to go down dramatically. We agreed on a small rise and I have just received a confirmatory email.

But it tired me out and frazzled my nerves. I just wonder what happens to other old ladies who are perhaps a little bit confused and can't fight their corner. It isn't right what these companies do.
 
Old 03-03-2020, 07:06 AM   #2
rtmistler
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Sorry and I hope you got it cleared up.

One thing which has been shown to be somewhat valid in the states, or everywhere, is that the senior citizens typically have more free time and if they choose to follow-up on injustices with any business or government, they will do this and also be very persistent. There was some annual, municipal fee that my mother had to pay, well a lot of them, which many of us take for granted. She told me a lengthy story about who she had to call, how many times she had to call them, and get it all resolved, only to also hope that "next year", she'd not receive a bill, or if she did, she could clear that next year up with more ease.

So I started to ask her the provenance of exactly who to call, etc. She immediately identified two obvious, large problems by saying, "What's the difference? You're 40 years younger than me, so by the time you're my age, they'll be 15 more fees or whatever, and also, you don't live in my town, who knows what you do in your town." Yep, she was absolutely correct. Her hard fought battle would only be worthwhile to people who owned property and lived in it, in her town, who also were of the correct age group.

So I get you that there's this continued strife with just conducting "life" in your area.

And we have something similarly ... complicated(?), or not, in our energy companies, in the US. Since I have generation equipment, I really don't pay attention, but I constantly receive notifications that I either can select a certain energy supplier, or I'll be given one, but I can always override that, etc, etc, etc. And it is clearly related to your rates. I'm actually sure it affects the rates I receive for generating electricity, but since I'm always negative, I avoid spending the time to learn it all.
 
Old 03-03-2020, 07:14 AM   #3
fatmac
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There should be just one price for each commodity, full stop!

It's all a big con job.
 
Old 03-03-2020, 07:54 AM   #4
rtmistler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatmac View Post
There should be just one price for each commodity, full stop!

It's all a big con job.
I fully concur for this on numerous products, services, etc.

<stories omitted>

And:

I thought you wrote: It's all a big CRON job. (Yep, it's Linux' fault! )
 
Old 03-03-2020, 08:15 AM   #5
hazel
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Yeah, a cron job would be nice. Set it to run every three months when the bill comes in.
 
Old 03-03-2020, 09:51 AM   #6
rokytnji
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Well. When it comes to getting screwed over.

Like Mom always told me. Practice makes perfect. So when the aggressor service plan is offered to ya.
They got it covered.


Only reason it seems harder. You are older and there are more of them on the planet than when you were younger. The mean part. That has always been around. Got Tx multiple energy plans offered here from wind to solar .

It is a free for all here < expensive of course >
 
Old 03-03-2020, 02:32 PM   #7
ondoho
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Life... the biggest cron job of 'em all.
 
Old 03-03-2020, 07:55 PM   #8
frankbell
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A lot of this stems from the teachings of the "Chicago School" of economic thought. They're the folks who came up with the idea that the first responsibility of a business is to maximize the return to stockholders.

Despite that many repeat this as revealed truth today, it's a relatively new idea that would have Adam Smith, who had a concept of the public good, spinning in his grave. Until they came along, the first responsibility of a business was the health of the business, not the wealth of the businesspersons.

Far too many businesses--well, business executives--have used that notion as a justification for doing anything, however amoral or immoral it might be, as long as it increases revenue.
 
Old 03-03-2020, 08:47 PM   #9
ChuangTzu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankbell View Post
A lot of this stems from the teachings of the "Chicago School" of economic thought. They're the folks who came up with the idea that the first responsibility of a business is to maximize the return to stockholders.

Despite that many repeat this as revealed truth today, it's a relatively new idea that would have Adam Smith, who had a concept of the public good, spinning in his grave. Until they came along, the first responsibility of a business was the health of the business, not the wealth of the businesspersons.

Far too many businesses--well, business executives--have used that notion as a justification for doing anything, however amoral or immoral it might be, as long as it increases revenue.
well said frank!
 
Old 03-03-2020, 08:49 PM   #10
noordinaryspider
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I'm a little old lady too, Hazel; I might as well out myself now. I tried calling Customer Service today when I was in a good mood and talking to the poorly paid kid with the strong accent as if we were two human beings stuck at a boring party or something.

There were some very puzzled silences when I said things like, "No worries, David! Your English can't possibly be as bad as my Cantonese!" and I did get caught saying, "So you hung up on me, (expletive deleted)?!" and then being horribly embarassed and apologizing profusely when I heard a sweet little heavily accented voice say, "I still here, ma'am."

Probably won't do a darned bit of good, but it's better than cussing out a kid who can't find a decent job and giving myself a heart attack from the stress.

I couldn't live as frustration-free in the US if I were even the slightest bit younger or presented as even a tad wealthier than I do. I don't carry a smart phone or use a "backup" Windows install or iPad. If it can't be done on Linux (or if I'm not in the mood to do things like enabling random javascript, using a Live CD every time someone wants to Skype me or Whatsapp me or whatever it is this week, or wasting my precious time learning how to run .exe files under WINE when I would genuinely much rather be doing dopey little kid things like making a steam locomotive run across my terminal every single time I mistype "ls") then it ain't getting done. I'm a little old lady and I don't understand punkuters.

I'm supposed to be prepared at all times to have my power shut off for four or more days at a time. That means losing all the food in my freezer: I grew some myself and I have connections with farmers that can't be replaced with a coupon for some fries or a box of USDA government cheese.

I have a month-to-month lease on the house I raised my children in and could be asked to leave at any moment even if I didn't do anything wrong. I don't have enough savings to cover my pet vet bills, much less first, last, deposit, truck, and big strong men to put boxes into it and take them out again. My "boyfriend" lives in his van and is brilliant but fragile: one unexpected virus or bacterium could put his life into free fall and it's probably only a matter of time when you have to make single-use medical devices last for a whole year. I'll never know. The news won't report a random homeless man found dead in a white delivery van.

In my country, we have this thingy-thing called Corporate Personhood https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpor..._United_States that I'm not in the mood to debate, but when you combine that with the "Chicago School" of economic thought and think about it too much, it isn't a good thing.

I figure I'm screwed. I hope I put some good back into the world to justify my unusual luck. Linux is an operating system's kernel, not a natural force for good in the universe, and I'm not better than everybody else just because I bumbled across this https://www.ttcs.tt/2003/05/14/gnuwin-ii-cd/ seventeen years ago and actually paid attention to what I found. Maybe I'm screwed a little bit faster because of my income tax bracket and social support system and maybe I'm screwed a little bit slower because of my operating system and incidental organic knowledge of "post graduate school education" interests and hobbies but nobody is going to get out of this little old lady thing alive.

ugh; sorry for the text wall.

ETA: and the bad grammar and all the typos I didn't see in time to fix

Last edited by noordinaryspider; 03-03-2020 at 08:55 PM.
 
Old 03-03-2020, 08:57 PM   #11
jefro
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Kind of surprised you don't have online real time or near real time access to your energy usage.

In Texas you can usually select some type of special billing/rate for certain groups. My mother is on a flat rate that gets audited every 6 months so it usually goes up. Fortunately if Bernie sues the energy companies the bill will go from $50 to $400.

The City of Austin Texas runs their own power company, (I don't know why) and they charge like crazy. Seems they admit it is a tax and then spend the money on one-way sidewalks and left handed drinking fountains.

Well, I have to say my electric coop is pretty good. I set my smart things and electric car to charge at night at 3.8 cents/kw so I think I save money. However I use to little it doesn't matter much. My house is usually on the cutting edge of efficiency. I pay more for the poles and infrastructure than I do for electricity. I'd make out like a bandit if I wasted more.

Unfortunately news report told about the auto insurance industry where they raise rates even if you are the best customer. They seem to feel that you should always shop around for best price and if you don't, they stick it to you. Texas is one of the few states that will let you self insure if you are brave enough. If I lived in west Texas I would self insure my cars.

Is it fair?? Well, I can't say. If you believe in free markets then yes it is fair. If you believe in big government then you have to pay what they say. Just because things get controlled doesn't mean it ends up being cheaper. I've seen too many price controls that fail.

You have me confused on the Irish girl part. Are you saying they outsource customer service to Ireland?

Last edited by jefro; 03-03-2020 at 08:59 PM.
 
Old 03-03-2020, 09:04 PM   #12
cwizardone
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I go through this every year with my ISP (internet service provider). This year they out did themselves and raised my bill 40% for a simple internet hook up (no tv, phone, etc.)
I call them, they agree to lower the bill, but I still end up paying about five dollars more than I paid the year before.
This year I told them that raising the monthly "rent" on the modem, a fixed cost asset, was nothing more than pure greed. I was surprised to see on the new "invoice" there was no charge for the equipment. I really won't believe it until I see next month's bill.
It really is getting to be too much.
As I've said before, unprecedented, unconscionable, unbelievably short sighted corporate greed is, IMHO, the biggest economic problem we have. This somewhat echos what frankbell said about the chicago school of economic thought.

Last edited by cwizardone; 03-03-2020 at 09:09 PM.
 
Old 03-03-2020, 09:25 PM   #13
frankbell
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Quote:
I go through this every year with my ISP (internet service provider).
Oh, man, I've got some gripes about my ISP (mostly nitpicking policy stuff--the employees are a joy to deal with), but suddenly they are looking much better in my eyes.

Quote:
well said frank!
(Blush) Thank you.

Last edited by frankbell; 03-03-2020 at 09:53 PM.
 
Old 03-03-2020, 11:03 PM   #14
VeraP
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Both the government and the private sector should have a clear and farsighted vision to handle this kind of variable issues..
 
Old 03-04-2020, 04:08 AM   #15
hazel
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I feel for you, spider. I have a much more comfortable life than you do. I don't have a lot of money but I do own my own house and I don't have a boyfriend to worry about. But nor do I have the energy to have to continually fight my corner against big business.

I did try very hard not to take out my frustration on the Irish lady, who is not responsible for what her employers do, but I had to cut her off twice when she started reciting what was clearly a standard response and return her attention patiently to the figures on the screen and what they showed about my seasonal pattern of consumption. Eventually she realised that I was right and that the company was being unreasonable. I did then agree to pay a couple of pounds extra per month so that I would not run into deficit again next February. I did not want her supervisors to be able to say that she had not met her work target.

By the way, one thing that always triggers a warning in me is a notice that "abuse of our staff will not be tolerated". That means that management policy is to treat customers in such a way that they will be sorely tempted to abuse the staff dealing with them. Otherwise, why would anyone want to be abusive?

@frankbell. Wasn't it Adam Smith who said that you can't have two men of the same trade in a room without them hatching some kind of conspiracy against the public?

@jefro. No, I don't have a smart meter. I think they're a con.See https://www.linuxquestions.org/quest...am-4175643267/

Pricing policies are strongly affected by the spread of price comparison sites. To look good on these sites, companies have to provide low rates to new users. To pay for these, they then have to charge high rates to existing users. There's no other way to make the arithmetic balance out. The result is everybody has to switch every year, endless "churn" that wastes everybody's money and energy.

btw this company has an English name but is actually Italian. Hence they deal with UK customers via Ireland.

Last edited by hazel; 03-04-2020 at 04:32 AM.
 
  


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