IF THERE was one thing (the only thing, technologically speaking), that I was an early adopter of, it was mobile phones. What a great invention! Of course, along with it came that other new phenomenon: Bill shock.
As I remember, back then my quarterly phone bill was about $80. Today, we pay nearly that much a week - it's a lot of hooch when you think about it, just to talk to people.
To muddy the waters, the bean counters who work for the telcos came up with billing systems that you need a PhD in mathematics to understand.
Every two years, I get a new phone - just because I can. My telco allows me - hell, they nearly force it down my throat - to get a new phone a couple of months before my contract expires.
And every two years they stuff up my bill, charging me for my old phone, as well as my new one. This has been happening to me since the late 80s. I am so used to it, I don't even dream they might get it right just once.
Now, the gas and electricity companies have read the telco book on confusion and are actively pursuing the same system.
A few months back, I got a phone call from my existing gas/electricity provider asking if I would like to renew my contract with them, in return for which I would get a price freeze for two years. It sounded good to me, given the spiralling price of utilities.
What they didn't tell me was that the price freeze was on a new rate. When the letter of agreement arrived, my electricity had gone from $0.17 per kilowatt hour to $0.28.
I rang them back, told them that they could shove it and that I didn't want a contract (so I could look around for a better deal, without paying exit fees). They then sent me another letter informing me that my new rate would be $0.33 kilowatt hour.
So I jumped on the web, found a better deal (although not by a whole lot) and signed up for that.
Some weeks later I got a final electricity bill of $480. Two days later I got another electricity bill, this time for $670.
When I rang them, I discovered (eventually) that they had somehow transferred my mother's gas and electricity into my name.
Now, we have two houses on the same property, one of which my mother lives in, but we have separate meters.
To compound the problem, it would appear they are about to relinquish mum's electricity and my gas to the new provider.
I couldn't get mum's utilities transferred back into her name without her talking to them (she has had a stroke and wasn't up to it).
It took an hour and 23 minutes just to get them to change the billing addresses to 'electricity - main house', 'electricity - cottage' etc.
Confused so far? Mate, you're not the only one! I reckon, with luck, I might have it sorted by Christmas.
How can companies so (supposedly) technologically advanced not have a simple system for billing and making changes?
If anyone out there has that PhD I was talking about earlier, please give me a call. I need HELP!
Take care of you...
Kermie, 0418 139 415