‘You can’t do that it’s against the law!’ Did you read the t&c’s?

Hi guys, sorry if this is a complete ramble/rant, obligatory note that this is posted on mobile so apologies in advance.

I’ve been working for a certain energy company that is part of the big six in the UK, this means you can get all manner of people calling through. Some understandably frustrated but others, not so much.

I had this beauty today. For reference M is myself and C is for customer.

M: Hi you’re through to COMPANY/DEPARTMENT, my names M, how can I help you today?

I can’t remember the exact wording so I’ll type it as best as I recall it and cut it down as much as I can too (it was an hour long and very frustrating)

(Quickly square off Data Protection and ask what the problem is)

C: You’ve increased my direct debit! I’m on a fixed tariff and it’s against the law to increase it!

M: I’ll have a look into what’s happening and see if I can drop it down for you, however it’s the unit rate and daily standing charge that are fixed, we do increase the direct debit based on usage so if your previous one isn’t covering your usage, we do need to increase it to account for that, it does state this in the t&c’s that you were sent at the beginning of your tariff.

C: That’s ridiculous, why would you do it like that?! Nobody else does! Your company is just trying to steal from us pensioners!

(Quick note, I get that there’s points where people can’t afford to pay as much as we can set it to, we do what we can to help out and offer as much information as we can to help out, but kicking off with agents who are trying to help isn’t going to make anyone happy)

M: I am sorry that it’s been increased so if I can get readings to bill you up to date I’ll see if I can drop it down for you.

Readings given, account billed, etc.

M: so unfortunately it looks like your usage is higher than your original payments are covering, so we’ve had to increase your direct debit to cover both the higher usage and the debit on the account.

C: I will not be paying anymore than what it was! Change it!

M: I’m sorry but I’m not allowed to do that, it would mean I would be knowingly putting you into debt which is against Ofgem regulations (we’d get absolutely fucked if we did that)


M: I’m afraid that based on your usage, including the ones you just gave me, the original dd is not covering your usage and I’m not allowed to lower it. I can offer you the number for Energy Efficiency and they might be able to help you find out why the usage is so high and help you cut down the future bills?

C: I know why my usage is so high! But I’m not paying that even with a debt! You need to put my payments back down!

M: I’m sorry but im not able to do that, I would be putting you in to debt, however I can offer you the number to National Debt Line and they can offer advice and possibly assistance with your payments if you’re unable to afford the dd.

Naturally, this was taken as a personal insult (side note, seriously if you can’t afford to pay for something that you need, tell someone, needing help is hard to admit but you won’t be judged by the person on the other end, everyone gets in a bad spot at some point in their life)

C: Well I want to speak to complaints now!

M: can I pop you on hold?

Goes on hold, knowing that complaints would say the same but to double check, I ask FS the best course of action, which asks what I’ve said so far, and confirms that it wouldn’t be an actionable complaint as there’s nothing complaints could change.

M: hi, I’ve just spoken to FS and unfortunately as complaints wouldn’t be able to do anything but offer the same advice I’ve given you, I can’t pass you through to complaints.

C: that’s ridiculous, I want to speak to them now!

M: unfortunately I can’t pass you through to them.

C: I’m going to the CAB and telling them that what you’ve done and that it’s illegal to increase my dd! They’ll side with me because I’m right and you know it!

For fucks sake (mentioning CAB, Ombudsman or Ofgem basically means instant complaint, even if it’s not actionable/unreasonable just to cover yourselves in case they do take up the complaint, because both the company and agent get a hefty fine if they take up the complaint and see we’ve not attempted to action it at all)

M: since you’ve mentioned CAB, I’ll write up a complaint for you, can I put you on hold while I do that?

C: yes.

M: thank you.

On hold, I get authorisation from FS to open a complaint because CAB was mentioned, write up the complaint and go back to arrange a callback. (Standard wait is two working days for a complaints callback)

M: hi, so that’s written up for you now, so it’ll be two days for the callback, what time is best for you?

C: I’m not waiting two days, I want to speak to them now!

M: I’m just going to put you on hold and see what I can do

I ask if it can put them straight upstairs as the customer is demanding I do so, get told no, it’s two days.

M:hi, i-

C, cutting me off: it says here on this pack you sent me that my prices are fixed until END OF TARIFF MONTH/YEAR, I told you this but you weren’t listening and you sent me this! Change it back!

Not going to lie, at this point the call had been going on shy of an hour, the customer was completely receptive to any offers of support and took it as a personal insult when I mentioned National Debt Line/Hardship fund, so I wanted her gone, so her saying this piqued my interest.

M: can I just ask which letter you’re reading? Is it from the welcome pack?

C: it says keep this safe on the front! I kept it safe and thankfully I did because you’re stealing my money now!

I’ll be completely honest, I muted the microphone and silently cheered because, despite claiming we never said anything about changing the dd, C had right in her hands one of the several letters we send which states the exact opposite of what she’s claiming.

I’m not allowed to go out of my way to point out where it states this usually, but this person literally spoon-fed me the opportunity to shut her entire argument down.

M: okay, so just really quick, have you got the page which says your tariff details explained at the top?

C: Obviously! That’s where it says it! Are you not listening?

M: so right at the top of the page, underneath the header?


M: just above that?

C: what about it?

M: it states at the very top of SPECIFIC SECTION that the direct debit and/or bill is subject to change based on usage of energy.

Naturally, with Cs argument systematically wrecked, and having said she was going to the CAB/what we’re doing is illegal/she’s not accepting any support offered, this meant she had no ground to stand on anymore because I could see exactly what she was looking at.

C: you have no right to change my dd! I want to talk to complaints now!

Now, since she’s been doing nothing but giving me shit, borderline calling me a thief and whatever else, I’m completely done, and at this point, since I know with 100% certainty she’s only doing this to try and get a goodwill payment (she mentioned the fact that her daughter complained once and got her debt paid off by complaints, even though the situation was completely different), I don’t have to open any complaint anymore because its unactionable and the customer has undoubtedly seen that we’re completely within our rights to increase the dd, I’m well within my rights to not open the complaint anymore.

M: unfortunately, based on the information that we’ve both viewed just then, I can’t open a complaint based on this current issue, all I can do is offer you NDL

C: I demand to speak to complaints, this is disgusting! I want a manager now because you’ve been absolutely no help at all!

M: I’ve offered you-

C, interrupting: Nothing, you’ve offered me no help at all!

M: I’ve offered you all the information and assistance I can give you, including the NDL and Energy Efficiency, I’ve done everything I can and unfortunately, based on the information we’ve both just read, I cannot send this as a complaint.

C: I want a manager!

This happens for another couple of minutes before a manager reluctantly takes over the call because otherwise the customer wont go away. (No, the managers don’t usually take escalations unless it’s a difficult customer who refuses to end the call)

Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened after the call was transferred, I didn’t ask because I simply just wanted nothing to do with this customer anymore, but I imagine they were either given the complaint (to get her to go) which would get her nothing, or told to go to CAB, which again, they’d get nothing.

So yeah, moral of the story is, if you’re speaking to a call centre agent, be nice, but if not, don’t be an idiot and try use the paperwork against us, we have it right in front of us and we will use it against you if you try.

Sorry for the rant. My bad.

TL;DR: C kicks off because DD increased, tries claiming it’s against the law, expects us to actually break the law for her, threatens to call CAB, shoots herself in the foot, gets (probably) nowhere.

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Stabbed in the face

No, its pronounced "SKANK"