Gather round, children. Let me tell you a magical tale. A tale of power, of immense incompetence and stupidity. A tale from a completely made-up place, so befuddling it couldn’t possibly be real…
The Tragic, Twisted Tale of The Energy Contract in the Land of Incompetonia
Long, long ago, in a mystical, faraway, totally not real land called Incompetonia there lived a woman. She was a loving woman, a family woman. All she wanted to do was provide for her family and keep electricity running to their plethora of devices.
It was a simple enough task, or so she thought. Her current contract was coming to an end, and so, with a simple phone call, she figured she could re-new the contract at her current rates of discount. After all, she had done so last year. Without too much fuss she had secured a good deal.
Let The Games Begin
However, little did she know that she was about to be played like a fiddle. You see, this mystical, absurd place had two major players in the electricity and gas market. But instead of being upfront and customer oriented, they were devious, nasty corporations. They sought to squeeze every last drop of blood from their customers that they could, and they schemed to ensure that direct comparisons between products were so mind-numbingly tedious that few would dare try. On top of that, they spent vast sums of money on ensuring that their customer service was so excruciatingly painful that most people in the land of Incompetonia would rather perform their own vasectomy with a rusty spoon, than try to negotiate a deal.
This truly wonderful woman, let’s call her Amme, called her current energy provider, 1st Best Energy. She expected a quick, five minute phone call. However, the villainous representative of the despicable company came back with a most unexpected reply.
“Sorry, we won’t give you that discount” he snivelled.
“Why not?” enquired the majestic Amme. “You gave it to me last year”.
“We won’t offer you a discount unless you leave and sign with another provider” came the response. Amme thought she could hear stifled laughter.
Amme persisted. “Okay, I’m going to leave your company, so now will you give me the deal?”
“Nup,” came the response. “You actually have to sign with the other company. Otherwise people tell us they’re going to leave, but they’re not really.”
Had Amme heard that correctly? Had customer service really deteriorated so far in the land of Incompetonia that companies were actually insisting that their customers leave and go to a competitor. Was that really how awful things had become?
Amme hung up and felt dejected. She told her magnificent husband, Semaj about it when he returned home from a long, hard day of antelope herding.
Semaj Tries to Talk Sense
Semaj decided to call the company the next day. He figured he could ask to speak to a manager and have the whole mess cleaned up in an instant. Unfortunately for him, the next day was a Saturday.
Now, you might think that in a logical society, service-based companies would have the appropriate staff available to speak with on a Saturday. After all, spending hours on the phone to a service provider between 9 and 5 Monday-Friday is not a practical reality for most people in Incompetonia (this is because most families rely on a dual-income to pay the outrageously large Incompetonia mortgages, but that’s a story for another day). But it was not to be. In the whole entire call centre of 1st Best Energy, there was (supposedly) only one manager working.
“I don’t need a herd of them, one manager will do!” Semaj fired down the phone at the operator, who’s entire training for her job appeared to involve watching Clerks on repeat.
“I’ll get him to call you back today,” she lied, blatantly.
Of course, Semaj didn’t hear back from a manager that day. Nor did he hear from them the following Monday, or even that week. 1st Best Energy appeared determined to make their customer leave, for reasons that Amme and Semaj couldn’t quite comprehend.
Turns Out The Other Lot Are Just As Bad
After an eternity of waiting, Amme decided it was time to contact the competitor – Incompetonia Energy. As she was a new customer, looking to join the company, they were very pleasant to her. Amme explained how terrible 1st Best Energy had been, and the sales person was only too happy to offer a reasonable deal. Amme had the details emailed to her, so that she could discuss them with Semaj before signing.
When she called back to agree to the deal, however, things turned a little sour.
“Sorry, we can only offer you that discount if you agree to direct debit” said the woman.
“What?” Exclaimed Amme. “That’s not what the last person said.”
After several heated exchanges, the Incompetonia Energy representative finally relented and clicked whatever button had obviously been available to her since the very start of the conversation, to make the deal go through.
Finally, everything was finished. Amme had agreed to terms with a new provider, and had only wasted about three hours of her life in doing so.
It’s Never That Simple
But of course, Life isn’t that simple in the land of Incompetonia. The evil energy companies had only just begun to play their games. They still had a few tricks up their sleeves. Not long after Amme signed with Incompetonia Energy, she received a call from 1st Best Energy.
“We’d like to offer you a better deal” said the man.
Now, at this point Semaj would have told the man where he could shove his deal, in an angry, expletive-filled rage. But Amme was smarter than Semaj. She listened to what the man had to offer, then she told him that she would have to think about it. She told him that the Incompetonia Energy deal was still a better one. The man provided Amme with his direct contact details, something that would prove to be invaluable later in the ordeal.
Over a week went by after agreeing to terms with Incompetonia Energy. But no welcome package was received in the mail. Amme called the company and was told that there was a problem with the account. Apparently her birthday had been entered incorrectly and they had been unable to proceed with the switch-over because of it.
To add further fuel to the furnace of frustration, Amme was told that she needed to provide three forms of identification to regain access to the account, as they couldn’t verify her identity due to the incorrect birth date.
Amme (far too politely for Semaj’s liking) told Incompetonia Energy what she thought of that. She hung up and called back her new best friend at 1st Best Energy.
Amme explained that she had considered the offer and that she would like to stay with 1st Best Energy. The man set it up in his system, then he did the most bamboozling thing – he transferred Amme back to the competition. That’s right, he actually sent Amme back to Incompetonia Energy once again, to cancel the contract with them.
Much to Amme’s great surprise, she was transferred to an operator with a shred of competence. The operator told Amme that she could fix the birth date issue with a click of a button, then offered her a better deal, as well as some cash back to sign with Incompetonia! Amme agreed and was relieved to hear that Incompetonia Energy could sort out the whole thing from their end, without needing to be transferred back to 1st Best Energy.
Well, there you have it. A convoluted tale, no doubt. Incompetonia sure must be a frustrating place to live. Thank goodness we live in the real world, with customer service standards and general levels of respect for each-other’s time. Something like this couldn’t possibly happen here… could it?
Any likeness to real-world energy companies is entirely coincidental. This is totally, absolutely a fictional story. Completely. If any energy companies take offence to this story, perhaps they need to have a long, hard look at themselves and how they conduct their business. Seriously.