Diary Entry 10 – You’ve got the Power!
Anxiety and Depression – Have you ever considered that it’s just NOT your fault? If you think about it, today’s world seems determined to drive us all mad! The list of modern triggers for anger, anxiety and intense emotion is endless, so I’m going to cover one today. Let me describe my latest experience of contacting our power supplier and how it left me sobbing on the floor.
I bought a property which has a pre-paid electricity meter. I hate it. I do not want to trot down to the shop in my slippers every time it runs out. For the last three years I have tried to get this pre-paid meter removed so that I can pay my bills by direct debit like a normal person. The pattern is always the same. A long phone call to the power supplier; a promise by the staff member to resolve it; and then….nothing.
My most recent attempt is still raw in my memory. When I think about the impact it had on my emotional state, I start to question why society has allowed these vessel-popping systems to remain in place.
In a nutshell, my last contact with the electricity supplier resulted in a phone call which had me on the line for one hour and fifty minutes, during which time I spoke politely and patiently to four different staff, none of whom could be bothered to help. Eventually the phone battery ran low and I had to lie on the living room floor so that I could stay on the line while it recharged at the socket.
As it happens, the floor was the best place to be; because it meant I did not need to collapse with rage when the fourth member of staff simply hung up on me without warning – after nearly two hours on hold! I was in the right position to throw a full blown hissy fit.
On hearing the line go dead, I couldn’t breathe for a minute. I remained on the floor choking with fury before coming out in a rash. My first gasp of breath was used to turn the air blue with ear bursting expletives. Hubby asked what was wrong with my face (the rash!) and he suggested that I should ‘calm down’. At this point I turned on him like a wildcat because everyone knows that the very worst thing you can say to anyone who needs to ‘calm down’ is “Calm Down”. I promised to tear him apart if he ever made such an unhelpful remark again.
There was only one healthy way to channel my emotion – and that was to phone the power supplier straight back and rejoin the long queue. But when I did call, I was given the automated response which informed me that the offices were now closed and that staff would be ‘delighted to help me’ when they re-opened the following morning.
I simmered in my bed all night and then rose early, determined to catch a call-centre person the minute the lines opened. And I got straight through – to Alex! It was incredible, but then I was passed from pillar to post; from Vikram to Akachi to David.
I was asked, for the millionth time, to give them a reading from the electricity meter. Now that is all very well when your meter is under the window, but not when it is located above the front door and is only reachable by using two people; a table; a chair and some footage from Britains Got Talent. Hubby had helped me the previous night but he was already away to work. I was on my own so I gave ‘David’ my reading from the night before. But it wasn’t good enough! He wanted a new reading.
Well I told him about the inaccessible meter and that it would take me about five minutes to get the reading. David said he would be ‘happy to wait’ on the line for me (which is fair enough given that I stayed on hold for two excruciating hours the previous evening).
I had to drag all the hall furniture to the door and make myself a stable platform on which to reach the meter. I twisted my ankle when it all collapsed but at least I had the reading – and well within the five minutes I had estimated! I hopped back to the phone feeling very pleased with myself.
But you already know the next bit don’t you? Yes indeed …. the line was dead. Clearly ‘David’ had not been ‘happy to wait’ five minutes for me to get the reading. My spirits slumped and I knew I could not face another call that day.
The next morning I rose early once again, and grabbed the first call-centre person (Colin). He seemed genuinely bothered by what I told him. He sounded ashamed of his employer and maybe even a little tearful as I poured out my woeful experience to him. He made a big deal of lodging a complaint on my behalf and assured me that I would hear back within five working days.
A month later, I hadn’t heard ANYTHING despite emailing them every Monday with a polite reminder. It was not until I added the line “your customer service is disgusting”, that I received an instant reply. They were frightfully sorry to hear of my experience and they arranged an appointment to come and remove the prepaid meter. Obviously nobody turned up and when I called some weeks later I was told that the complaint had been labelled as ‘actioned’ and the case was now closed.
So there you have it! Just one example of how our mental health can be affected by hair-tearing, recycled communications. Who wouldn’t feel anxious, stressed and depressed after being treated so shoddily; running up a large phone bill; falling out with their spouse; and twisting their ankle – and still with no resolution to their issue. Who could muster up the energy to call them back? Not me!
Not until next year anyway.
Next Week: Confessions of a Hand Sanitiser Addict