Power Company Shares

Firstly, I did warn you all that I had a lot of stories. This one could be long-ish.

Some years ago, I was working for a company that specialised in call centres for a lot of different clients. I was assigned to take calls for a power company which gave a share of its profits every year to certain households. It only covered certain areas in one city – there was one area of the city that had elected to take a lump sum in exchange for their shares some years earlier, and they were under a different company (this is relevant).

So, the company I was taking calls for had paid out the dividend a couple of weeks earlier. How it worked was that customers had to be in the property eligible for the dividend on the rollover date. If they moved out before the rollover date, tough luck. They miss out. If a customer moved into the property after the rollover date, tough luck.

As it happened, I had moved into a property either the day before or on the rollover date and I got my dividend. It was paid out by cheque.

The calls I had to take were from people who hadn’t received their dividend. This could be for several reasons.

  1. They were outside the area.
  2. They had moved (as per above).
  3. It was paid as a credit on their electricity bill (customers had to elect this option before the rollover date)
  4. The name on the electricity bill was different.

I got so many examples of complete stupidity it just had me practically banging my head against the desk. Here is one instance:

“I got my dividend cheque, but I don’t have a bank account. Can I cash the cheque?”

“Unfortunately, no. The cheque is not negotiable. (Meaning it could not be cashed) You have to deposit it in your own bank account.”

*If they didn’t have an account they would have to open one – pretty logical if you ask me*

“Um, so how do I do that?”

*Gee, let me think. You go to the bank, walk up to the teller and ask to open a bank account?*

“So I can’t cash it?”


“Can I put it in someone else’s bank account?”

“No, it’s not transferable, so if the cheque is made out to you, it has to be deposited into your bank account.”

They still didn’t get it.

Now, here’s where there could have been a few issues. If the name on the bill didn’t match exactly the name on the bank account, they would have had trouble. Banks could be picky. Some customers – and I completely sympathised with them on this – might have only had their first initial and last name as the name on their bank account but the bill would be made out to their full name. Yeah, totally stupid, I agree. That didn’t fix the problem.

Here’s another example of the calls I had to put up with:

“I’ve been paying the power at that address for 25 years, now you’re saying I can’t get the dividend cheque because I moved out before the …. of August?”

“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.”

“Well, that’s not fair!”

“It’s not a question of what’s fair, it’s how the process works.”

“Well, I don’t think it’s fair. I’m going to go to *consumer rights tv programme*.”

Yeah, what could you say to that? I mean, I sympathised, but the policy was pretty clearly written. Oh, right, I forgot. People don’t read, do they?

Then we’d get calls from people who lived in the other area (the one that had received the lump sum payout). They’d also complain that it wasn’t fair that they couldn’t get the dividend. It didn’t matter if they’d just moved to that area, the fact was, it was outside the area of eligibility.

I can’t remember how many calls I took per day, but it was pretty much the same thing, day in and day out for almost a month.

Oh, and that’s nothing compared to the men who would flirt with me over the phone telling me I sounded so nice and pleasant and had a great phone manner. Some of them were downright skeezy.

Here was the kicker for me. I’d just moved from a place I’d been sharing with someone. My ex-flatmate emailed me and asked me, did I get the dividend?

I’d got it for my new place, but under the rules, since it had been my name on the electricity bill for the old place, if I hadn’t moved out, or if I’d left just a day or two after the rollover date, I would have got the dividend for that place. She didn’t sign up to put the bill in her name until after the date. Yet she didn’t think it was fair that I got the payout for my new place and she got nothing.

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Wrong company, lady!

It’s his birthday, but this is an isp not a sex chat line.