So, I'm watching over the house and stumble upon a letter from British Gas. Now, thinking that this might be some sort of bill or something, I opened it. It informed me that my parents' electricity changeover had been processed and would be happening within the next 4 weeks. It went on to say that if they changed their minds about changing providers they have 7 days (not working days, mind) to inform British Gas. The letter was dated 18 October. It's 9 November.
My parents are pretty thorough about things, especially when it comes to their house and telling me what I need to do to take care of it. Instructions regarding pretty much everything are given and expected to be followed. I can understand that. Plants die if not watered etc. etc. So I figure that this letter, if everything were going according to plan, would have been preceded by a lengthy chat with the folks about the electricity changeover, going over the minute details such as phoning the previous supplier and confirming with the new supplier that we were indeed changing over. None of that happened. Suspicious, nes pas?
I phoned the 'rents.
I won't directly quote my mother, but what she said rhymed with "What the duck?!"
Dad's response at least gave some clue, saying that someone had tried to peddle it to him and he'd replied that he'd need some information on it before he agreed to anything, and had never said he wanted to switch.
I let my rage build inside before making the call to British Gas. I'm petrified of phoning strangers. Honest. So I start going through my routine, hoping to evoke in some way a merging of Jack Nicholson's "You Can't Handle The Truth" speech from A Few Good Men with Anthony Hopkins speech before the Supreme Court in Amistad. Rage tempered with wisdom and logic - that's the ticket. Phone them up and start off stern and if met with any but-contract-is-valid-unless-cancelled-before-7-days bullshit, then comes the increased volume, consumer rights issues, their-mistake-hence-their-responsibility, I'm gonna phone fuckin' Watchdog and have Ann Robinson crawl up your arse with a microscope and a camera crew. And if they dared to mentioned that Ann Robinson doesn't do Watchdog anymore, then watch the fuck out, because she's coming back just to drag British Gas's candy arse telesales crew through the mud and kick them in the teeth with her evil spiky ginger hair and weird S&M fashion choices. In my head I have the fire and brimstone going on, and so I dial.
And am put on hold. For an hour. At about halfway through I go and use the toilet, secretly hoping they'll answer while I'm flushing. I zen out, realising that screaming blue murder about Ann Robinson fuckin' dogs or some such nonsense will do no good.
Someone finally answers, and to my chagrin is polite. And helpful. I'm sure I felt myself deflate. I explained the situation, how my father simply wanted some information before he made his decision. This made sense. My dad, at 68, is old fashioned in wanting to find out about something before he signs anything. It turns out, however, that in this modern world of telesales, asking for the info signs you up. Can you believe that shit? And the guy on the phone did not tell my dad that. And I wish I could say how ballistic I went at the guy on the other end, how his headset melted to his skull with the force of my indignation, but he beat me to it, and said how awful it was, the way the system works. He said it would be all fixed without ever a bill from the wrong supplier arriving, and apologised. He sounded sincere.
I'm still not happy; not only did I not get to rant (hence this), but the policy itself is so unbelievably fucked and wrong that I despair for the world. How dare they take a simple enquiry and turn it into a purchase! Does that mean if I ask a Porsche dealer for specs on a Carrera S if I don't get back to him in 7 days I've bought the fucking thing? I don't think so. And I weep for the world if that is the path Western consumer capitalism is going. Any sort of belief in karma and reincarnation suggests that as this generation of telemarketers and telesales people die out (horribly) there will be a surge in the dung beetle and sewer rat population. And any of you care to target me, be warned: my dad was a sailor and my grandad a marine - I possess an arsenal of profanity and disgruntlement and will unleash it upon you with maniacal glee! Bring it on.
You may wonder why I censored my mother's comment and not my own bad language. Well, it's like this: you know I swear, but it's not my place to attribute the same ill manners to my mother.