Thursday, 15 January 2009

Changing The Gas Meter, Part 1

A few weeks ago, I received a letter from Siemens Metering Services saying that they had been tasked by British Gas to change my gas meter and that they had provisionally booked an appointment for today, between 8:00 and 20:00. I then arranged to be working from home today and called Siemens to confirm that the date was fine and that they were welcome to come and change the meter. Unfortunately, they couldn't give me a more precise time so I made sure I could spend the whole day at home, waiting for an engineer.

The Siemens engineer arrived shortly after lunch, which I was rather pleased with, and proceeded to find out which of the three meters mine was. It took him a minute or two, after which he looked at me and said:

The covering box your meter is in is broken so I'm not allowed to change it, the box needs to be changed first.

Indeed, the box in question is missing its door and has been missing that door since before I purchased the flat. Considering this is not a completely unusual occurrence as I can spot a few meters in my street that have a damaged box, my neighbour to start with, and the engineer confirmed this was common, you'd have thought that, in all their wisdom, Siemens could have mentioned in the letter they sent me that their engineers could only change the meter if the box was intact? Had I known, I would have checked and told them when I confirmed the appointment that the box needed changing, we could have organised the change immediately and it would have saved everybody a good deal of time and effort. But no, that would have been too easy! Of course, what makes it even more complicated is that it won't be the same company that changes the box. So I'll have to sort that out, work from home the day they change the box, re-organise the meter change, work from home that day again and finally I may have a new meter. The fact that I never asked the meter to be changed in the first place, and that I have no idea why British Gas feel they have to change it at all, means that I am of course extremely motivated to do all that and not at all annoyed by it.

The silver lining in all that is that the Siemens engineer was a very nice guy and said he would organise the paperwork to do the box change to be mailed to me. So Siemens may be useless in their written communication but at least the guys they send out to do the work are nice and sensible. That's half the customer service done properly. Well, we'll see if and when I have the promised paperwork.

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