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Gasmen still make a stink!

Wonderful news for everyone who has suffered at the hands of The British Gasman.

A letter from British Gas Services, signed by Jeff Cartwright, Customer Enquiries Manager, offers the following promise: "We have overcome delays in phone response times and now answer 90 per cent of all contract-customer calls within 30 seconds."

British Gas Services are in the midst of sending three million contract customers a special phone number to call when they need help. I've tested the number and got through in times varying from 10 to 22 seconds.

Meanwhile, Man Of The People readers continue to report frustrations with British Gas - all, of course, before Mr Cartwright made his latest promise.

Here's just one grievous example, suffered by Pauline and Gary Polley of Oxford...

SATURDAY Oct 5: Boiler broke down just after 5pm. Gas Services said an engineer would call Sunday.

SUNDAY Oct 6: Engineer said new parts were needed and he'd call on October 8.

TUESDAY Oct 8: Gasman didn't arrive and didn't phone to cancel.

WEDNESDAY Oct 9: British Gas reported: "We haven't got the parts yet." The blame was laid on a new computer system and the parts, Mr Polley was told, would arrive Thursday.

THURSDAY Oct 11: Gasman arrived but boiler still wouldn't work. Engineer said he'd order another new part and return Friday.

FRIDAY Oct 12: No gasman. Mr Polley was told the new part hadn't arrived, due to computer failure. It would arrive Monday.

MONDAY Oct 14: Day Nine without hot water and heating. British Gas said the engineer was poised to call. An hour later they called to say: "Sorry, parts haven't arrived. We'll let you know when they do."

TUESDAY Oct 15: The gasman arrived. But the parts the family had patiently awaited weren't needed after all. The gasman (a different engineer) shopped around and found the spare he needed at a suppliers just three miles down the road!

Mr and Mrs Polley have now been offered pounds 70 compensation for the inconvenience they suffered. But Gary is also seeking compensation for the five days he took off work to wait in for the gasman.

The Polley family win the pounds 10 prize I offered for the family most messed about by British Gas Services.

Catch us if you can...

Other disgruntled gas clients include William Redwood, of Canterbury, Kent, who had a broken date with the gasman on August 29.

He wrote several letters and made numerous unanswered phone calls in an effort to arrange a new date.

In early October, still unable to get a response, he drove to the nearest British Gas office in Ramsgate - but it had been vacated and no one knew where the staff had gone.

Mrs Margarita Love of Port Seton, East Lothian, wrote to British Gas Operations Manager Ian Withers about her "dreadful weekend".

FRIDAY October 11: Heating broke down and a gasman was promised on Saturday.

SATURDAY October 12: Waited in for eight hours. Mrs Love called the Priority Service and was told an engineer would call at 9am on Sunday.

SUNDAY October 13: By noon, nothing had happened. Mrs Love called again and said she wasn't going to waste another day...An engineer turned up one hour later.

Mrs Love said in her angry letter to Mr Withers: "I am sure that if British Gas had competition you would have gone bust a long time ago."

Hot air from Gina G

Aussie singer Gina G (no, her surname isn't Gas), who warbled her way to the top with the notable Oo Aah, Just A Little Bit, says she doesn't regret her losing role in this year's Eurovision Song Contest and reveals that she wouldn't mind entering again.

But, she says, she would have to compromise her music principles because the countries that win use "soppy ballads".

Oo Aah, just as well you told us Miss G!

Pity the poor lap-top poodles!

Following my revelations about furious British Gas customers, I've had the following letter from a British Gas Service centre in Yorkshire:

"Please spare a thought for gas employees at the sharp end. Management no longer put emphasis on customer commitmen. At every meeting we're told: `Increase productivity.'

"The business is now run by accountants and we're all answerable to the shareholders.

"Morale among service engineers has never been lower. Now we are expected to run an office from our vans and our only contact is through a lap-top computer.

"Morning-promised jobs aren't issued to engineers until afternoon, so what can we do?

"The programme in the lap-top is too rigid and doesn't suit our job.

"We are forever having to alter and keep up with safety requirements.

"Health and Safety have now come up with yet another set of ventilation rules. These all antagonise customers. In the past two years I have had eight managers, each with their own little ideas.

"There's no consistency and we don't know if we are coming or going.

"I speak for all engineers in my patch. What we used to enjoy coming to work for is now just a drudge and we can't wait to get home."

ARE you a British Gas Service engineer and can you explain why the service is judged to be so poor?

Write to Man Of The People at the address below. Confidentiality guaranteed.

ONE RED-HOT RESPONSE

It's not all bad news for British Gas Service staff. Mrs Judith Topping, of Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, reported a problem with her back boiler on Thursday, October 10, at 4.50pm. An engineer turned up at 6.03pm and her boiler was fixed in an hour.

You win some, you lose some. But, having read the mountains of letters you've sent me, I suspect British Gas still lose a damned sight more than they win. Please keep me in touch.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Petrie, Tom
Publication:The People (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 27, 1996
Words:970
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