The EDF Saga

As I wrote in my last post, EDF has been particularly problematic.  Communication channels exist but don’t work properly: chat failed when I lost the connection, and email seems to reach people who can’t or won’t read it.  Neither does their payment appear to work, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

My previous experience as an EDF customer (2005-2013) was problem-free: I paid by direct debit, and the (informational) quarterly bills were admirably well-presented.  I don’t recollect ever having to contact them: I guess I must have done when I moved in and out, but it must have been too simple to be memorable.

This time I moved in without knowing the incumbent supplier of my house.  I looked it up on the Western Power Distribution website and found it’s EDF.  So I went to their website and looked for how to contact them.  I found an online chat facility.  My chat request was answered reasonably quickly.  In a fairly long session I confirmed that EDF was my supplier, and gave my name, the date of my move, and my initial readings.  I lost the session when my internet connection dropped, so I just had to hope they’d act on the information I’d given.

They didn’t.  Next contact with them was a bill, addressed not to me but to the owner or occupier, with (tiny) errors in the moving in date and wholly unrealistic “estimated” meter readings.  The bill is also hopelessly confusing: a period of less than two months is split into no fewer than five different periods, for no reason I can discern.

Evidently my chat had failed to communicate.  I looked at their website for other means to communicate, but found none except chat or phone – which is of course altogether worse.  So I tried chat again, but instead of going through all the details and risking a repeat of last time, I asked for an email address.  My chat assistant told me there isn’t a general one, but gave me his own @edf address.  So I wrote to him with my details, which I assumed should be sufficient to get me “on the system”.  That included up-to-date meter readings as well as the initial ones.

Next I heard, another bill, again addressed to “owner or occupier”.  Email hadn’t worked either.  I looked once again for methods of communication, and failing again to find anything like an email address or contact form, I turned to Complaints.  Aha, there’s an email address.  I email them complaining of the difficulty of contacting them, and append my previous email with my details and meter readings.

This one they half-read.  A reply apologised, and said they’d get me on the system:

I am sorry for the inconvenience caused. We have updated the records and created an account on your name with effect from 23 August . Also registered your detail online so you will soon receive an email with “Add password” option. You can access the online account following the instruction on the email in detail. We will also send you a welcome pack soon.

The promised email never arrived.  But another bill followed, this time with my name and moving in date.  And another, for the period from my vendor’s last reading to my moving in date: I guess the date I should have given was the date I bought the house (which fell between the two), but let’s not complicate things further until I’m on the bloomin’ system!

With a bill in my own name, I guess I could now have set up an account online.  But I was still waiting for their promised email about it, and I was p***ed off that they had ignored my meter readings and sent ludicrous “estimates” again.  So I fired off another email asking after the followup and readings.

Thank you for your reply.

I have yet to receive the promised email with the “Add password” option.   When can I expect it?

I now have a bill in my name, but it is still “estimated”.  Given that you can accept my name from the email I sent, why are you ignoring the readings (included once more in the quoted correspondence below)?

The reply to this one is surreal:

I would have been happy to help you with the query. But I would request you to please provide us the query so that we can help you with the information.

My followup repeated the questions as numbered points – and again included all previous correspondence, but got no reply whatsoever.  A few days later I got automated email and a letter both telling me payment was overdue.  I again fired off email, getting yet more exasperated:

> On 28 Nov 2019, at 10:01, EDF Energy wrote:
>
> Your bill is now overdue, please pay today.

I know I have a bill.

I have tried to contact you multiple times over the past three months.   I have sent you readings, which you have ignored several times.

In your email reply dated November 7th, you promised a followup email  which would get me set up online. I have yet to receive that followup.

When I chased that followup on November 19th and again on the 20th, I got no reply beyond the automated “We aim to respond to your email  within the next 24 hours.”

To be fair, that one did get a meaningful reply.  But I’ve had enough: I need to switch supplier.  In retrospect I should have accepted SSE’s offer to supply my new address when I terminated supply at my old address.

But I suspect I won’t be able to switch while I have an outstanding bill, even if I’m still battling to get a correct bill (which of course I’d be happy to pay).  I go to try and sign up online, and find they can identify me from my email address alone.  Evidently something has got through from all that correspondence, but most readers of this blog won’t need me to point out the security whopper!  I read the meters again and entered updated readings, but there’s no facility to enter or correct any historic detail.  Nor can I request they issue a corrected bill: I’ll just have to wait and see what happens there.

After another day mulling it over, I decide just to pay their “estimate”.  I log in again, select “make a payment” from the menu, and accept the amount of their bill.  I then enter my card details, only to find the next problem: it takes me to a “verified by visa” screen which spins for a moment, then tells me it’s timed out.  So that’s Schrödinger’s payment: I’ve no idea whether it’s succeeded until I see it (or not) on my card statement.  Or until EDF thank or chase me, but I’m not holding my breath for any sense from them!

Grrr.

Today I visited uswitch and fed a bunch of their numbers into a spreadsheet.  Looks as if Eon offer the best deal at my address, due to a much lower standing charge than anyone else.  Let’s hope I can switch and they prove less of a nightmare!

Posted on December 11, 2019, in rants. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Today an email disbelieving my meter reading!

    Not the gas, which is a long way below their “estimate” (surely nonsense – especially for a period that ended while the outside temperature was still comfortable). The problem is the electricity: my reading is too high to be credible!

    Erm, right, time for a reality check. EDF supplies UK households. I can google the UK household average, and my unrealistically high reading turns out to be under half of it. Their “estimate” is less than one thirtieth of it: my working hypothesis has always been that it’s based on the house’s historic usage while it was standing empty and on the market.

  2. As an industry insider, I concur with your working hypothesis. That sounds exactly like a conclusion that a fully automated system would reach.

    To your intent to “wait and see what happens”, I would strongly advise against that unless you don’t actually care what happens. You are a wheel. If you want to be greased, you need to squeak.

    Similarly with the payment, I would counsel action rather than inertia. Surely either EDF or your card provider gives you some way to check whether it’s been made or not?

    Email – simply doesn’t work, as a medium for communication between customers and companies. Companies have long since found that maintaining a single published email address simply loads them with (1) lots and lots of spam, and (2) so many random unsorted and unstructured complaints, comments, compliments, requests, observations, jokes, insults, spear phishes, viruses, emails sent in error, CCs – that you have to employ a whole team of people just to sort through them and figure out which department, if any, to forward them to. Basically, no company I do business with even maintains a “general purpose” mailbox any more.

    And using it the other way – from company to customer – is only marginally better. Given the license, not one of them can resist the temptation to spam.

  3. Re: payment. Today being one week on, I intend to check the card statement (which I do more-or-less trust) to see if payment has indeed been taken.

    If it hasn’t, I may be stumped! The timeout was so quick there was still a broken (not-yet-loaded) box in the page – probably some kind of logo.

  4. Tried payment again today, since it doesn’t appear on my card statement. And it’s now an adjusted bill with my current readings. Not my moving-in readings, but the difference there is trivial and in my favour, so not one to lose too much sleep, or hair, over.

    Same thing happened. Timeout within seconds of hitting the “pay” button (with all card details).

    So I tried another card. My mastercard – as opposed to my visa card. That got further: it sent me a confirmation code by text message, but when I entered the code it once again says timeout. Looks like that one’s failed too.

    It really looks like they don’t want me to be able to pay! They’ve got a snail-mail address (and it’s freepost), but I’m not sure I’ve still got a chequebook.

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