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Too busy to care about a few explosions

I think it’s important to note that i’m UK based and thus the laws/regulations may be different than in whatever country you’re reading this from.

TL;DR at the bottom of post

I’ve spent 10 years working for EnergyCo in about a dozen different role mainly call centre based, so i have a number of stories but this one always stood out as a great example of Karma.

*On the day this story happened the main news headline was regarding a gas explosion that destroyed half a street and left 2 children dead after a gas leak ignited. I would have handled the situation the exact same way irregardless but this made the situation worse*

Customer (C) rang up to complain that we sent him a bill for an empty property and none of his details were on the bill. He had bought the property 6 months ago to flip and then sell on. He at no point informed us he bought the property or gave us any details, so he was upset that we were not psychic and didn’t know these facts. So he’s already an idiot but no worse than the kind i dealt with every day.

I convince C to give me some details so we could set a temporary account up in his name. You know name, date he bought the property, forwarding address, the kind of intrusive questions that we only ask to annoy people and are in no way relevant. Throughout the call, he makes it more and more clear that i’m wasting his time and he has far more important stuff to be doing.

One of the last things i ask him is for the meter read when he took over the property.

C- “I don’t have one do i? I thought that was your job to get readings.”

Me – “Well unfortunately Sir, as you didn’t contact us at the time we had no way of even knowing the property had changed hands let alone get a reading, have you been able to read the meter all all since you’ve had the property?”

(It’s worth noting that in the UK, if the meter is inside the property and there is no response when the meter reader goes out, we just estimate the reading and leave a note to provide us with a reading)

C- “No i haven’t taken readings. i only went into the house this week to clear the junk mail. It’s being sold next week”

Me – “In order to make sure you have a correct bill we do need an actual meter reading, because if the property has been empty as you say and thus used nothing, then any estimation based on average & past usage may be far too high, and i don’t want you paying more than you need to”

C- “I can’t take a reading anyway, the meter’s not even attached properly”

Me – “Ok, Sir what do you mean by that? Has the meter been disconnected?”

C- “Are you stupid, i didn’t say it had been disconnected. One of my decorators hit it with a ladder and it’s now hanging off the wall and so …….”

Me- “sorry did you say hanging off the wall?”

C – “SO IT’S NOT WORKING SO I CAN’T GET A READING!”

Me – “I understand what you’re saying sir, but i just want to clarify a couple things for safety. Did you report the meter being damaged?”

C- “Why should i? I’m not going to be living there it’s being sold in a few days and then the new owner can deal with that. I’m not doing that for them!”

Me – “It’s not about doing that for them, it’s about doing it for you. When the meter was damaged was there any smell of gas or anything?”

C- “Probably, i don’t care, this call has already gone on far too long, just set it and that’s that.”

Me – “No. That’s not that. From what you’ve told me there is a good chance of a gas leak in your property, so for your safety i need to know is there any smell of gas?”

C- “I’m not there, there was when i left but obviously i don’t know now”

Me- “Were you able to turn the gas off before leaving?”

C- “I’m not fucking around with the gas am I?”

Me- “So for safety i’m going to get a Gas Emergency Engineer out to the property they can be there within the next 2 hours…

C- “NO!”

Me- “What do you mean No?

C- “No I’m in (city) the house is in (city 1 hours drive away) i’ve got nothing to do with it, i’m not travelling back to let your guys into the property. So that’s it. done.”

Me -“I’m going to make this very clear, this is not done. This needs to be dealt with now. for the safety of everyone, you must have seen in the news about a house in Manchester that had a gas explosion last night.”

C-“I don’t give a shit about Manchester, just send a letter to the property the new owner will deal with it!” *HANGS UP*

Obviously that isn’t the end of the situation. A gas leak or suspected gas leak needs to be handled. I report on average 1 a month and have never had someone refuse to have an engineer round, so whilst i was sure there were procedures in place i didn’t know what they were. I rang the Gas Emergency line to get it dealt with.

I am so happy with what i find out.

In a normal case a engineer goes round, checks the meter and either fixes it or turns the gas off in the property whilst the meter gets fixed then when the meter is fixed the gas gets turned back on all totally free and within a matter of hours.

In cases like this, an engineer goes to the property, disconnects the gas supply from the main pipe in the street Then updates the national grid that the property can not be reconnected for safety. A bill for this would be presented to the house owner. The property can now no longer be legally sold. The house owner then needs to contact us “at their convenience” to book a non-emergency job to fix the meter which would take a few days. THEN another job has to be booked to reconnect the property to the main gas pipes which is a job that has a wait list of a couple months and has a huge bill. Until all of this is done, the property cannot be sold.

I came away cackling at the instant Karma.

TL;DR Customer didn’t care about gas leak & possible explosion, so i stopped him from being able to sell his house

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Gas station owner thinks it’s crazy how our prices go up.

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