Ashford Bateman (abateman) wrote in bad_service,
Ashford Bateman

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Bad Service + Confusion = Anger

Hi! This is a question and a service problem mixed into one post... This is REALLY long, I'm very sorry!

Usually I have no problems with customer service, honestly! I'm simply not the sort to get all wound up, stamp my feet, etc. I may, on occasion, behave with some amount of indignant snippyness, but only when I feel that the customer representative is being blatantly rude while I had been trying to be polite. As a rule yelling, swearing, threats and bullheadedness is all immature and useless to me.

This is the first time I've ever actually raised my voice.

I've been living in my apartment since '06, and when I moved in and found that the fireplace was gas, I asked about it. I was told by my property manager, Chad, that the gas had been shut off. Because of the way my home is arranged, the fireplace is in a room I never enter (the guest room.) The valve, they told me, was off, and that it had been turned off at the "curb" outside (??). Now, I do not have guests, nor do I use the room other than for storage. It had never occurred to me to crawl on my hands and knees and look at the fireplace, as I had been told it was off. I grew up with wood stoves and electric heat, so I'm unaware of what a pilot light looks like, how to light it, etc. I fully, fully admit that I am ignorant to this. This is why I want to know if, instead, I am just a sucky customer in the following conversations.

So, about eight months after I moved in, I received a letter telling me that gas was being used. Clearly, I was very surprised. I called Terasen and discussed this matter with a gentleman. We got along perfectly well, and I assured him that I had lived there for some time, and was told that the gas had been phoned in to be shut off so I would not be charged. Apparently that never happened, and he was surprised by this, so he said he could not legally tell me how to shut it off, but that the pilot light must have been left on. He confirmed with me that the previous tenant, Mark, had requested a shut off. I asked if I would be billed, and he said no. He asked if I would like to start an account and begin to use my fireplace, I said no. We went our ways, laughing at the silliness of the situation. (And my building manager showed me how to shut it off at the valve. Easy!)

This winter, I decided hey, now that I've cleared out that back room and have a desk there, why not turn on the fire place! It would be a great place to put a tree so that it was not in my way, as I've fashioned a reading room there. So, I call and have my gas hooked up. $55.00 setup fee, $25.00 reconnect fee, $100 deposit. I'm fine with that. I have my Excel spreadsheet up when I am talking to the service woman, and I confirm a number of times that my first bill will be in the range of $180 - $200. She confirmed this.

I receive my bill for a whopping $411.00! I think this is simply some strange mistake, and call in, jovial in mood. The first representative sounds nervous and passes me on immediately to his supervisor.

This woman has apparently had her bowl of bitchy for breakfast. I felt like I was attempting to talk to a wall. First of all, as though trying to be quite rude and rile me, she uses my full name repeatedly after I cheerfully ask she use the shortened version of it. (I'm always surprised when I hear my full name, and have never had problems with people, particularly those in the service industry, shortening it. Never has the suggestion of shortening it caused them to try to draw it out longer and drawl it as though TRYING to offend.) I find this bizarre. It feels as though she simply wants to start something, and I am the last person in the world who can handle rage, offense, and rude confrontational behaviours from others. *shrugs* It's simply not my nature, in person.

I inform her of my previous conversation with the gentleman, and she calls me a liar. I'm flabberghasted and read her the letter, which she then tells me they did not send, and informs me of what they supposedly did send, which suggested something completely different in its wording.

I'm beginning to become upset, so I ask her how it is the previous gentleman should say one thing, and she should say another. She asks me, instead, why I had not noticed the pilot light was on. I respond that I am never in that room and that the previous tenant and I had talked and he had the gas shut off. She responds, "When you move into a home, you need to know what utilities you are using." I'm... well aware of that, and I'm not even sure how to respond. My brain is going, "Are you even listening?" I simply explained what I had all ready said.

Woman: "Did you even look to see if it was on?"
Myself: "I had been told Mark had it shut off at the curb or however that works... I never thought to look."
Woman: "But why didn't you notice?"
Myself: "I just never thought to check..." Her tone has me feeling rather meek, to be honest. (I suppose I make it worse that I stutter when nervous. Yay. Looking back, I must have had a large blaring horn in said stutter which declared, 'CAN BE WALKED ON.' Curses.)
Woman: "What?! Are you stupid?"
Myself: I'm stunned and do not say anything.
Woman: "I know what's going on in my house! Do you even own it?!"
Myself: Becoming annoyed, "Yes, I kind of own the unit."
Woman: "Then you should pay for it."
(Please note that at the start and end of each sentence she says my full name loudly and slowly, as though I am stupid. This is irritating me.)
Myself: "I'd liked to have known I were paying for it, that's my concern."
Woman: "You just said you owned the building, and you don't even know what bills you're paying for?!"
Myself: "I said I owned the unit, and it's more or less through a management company, so I guess that's wrong, and that I rent..." I'm confusing myself at this point, because I'm starting to feel afraid to talk without her raising her voice at me.
Woman: "Are your parents there?"
Myself: I'm offended. "I'm twenty, I pay for this apartment and I live alone."
Woman: "Then you pay for it."
Myself: "But why was I not billed previously, if it had been waived before?"
Woman: "_supervisor_ would never waive that!"
Myself: "But he did..."
Woman: "He asked if you wanted to set up an account, and you said no."
Myself: "He only asked if I wanted to start using gas, and I had told him I would rather not."
Woman: "You have to have an account or else you're not living there. What about your water, heat?"
Myself: "It's all electric."
Woman: "If you have a phone, then you pay for long distance. This is the same."
Myself: "I understand that, but with a phone you are at least aware that you have it. I was never made aware of this."
Woman: "It's your responsibility."
Myself: I am getting very frustrated. "I was told when I moved in that Mark had this disconnected."
Woman: "We never disconnect anything."
Myself: stunned silence, then, "But my bill even says it has a disconnect date of-"
Woman: "That means you shut off the pilot light."
Myself: "I wasn't even living here then!"
Woman: "You admitted you were!"
Myself: "But I was in another part of Kelowna, then!"
Woman: "You have to pay for it."
Myself: "When I talked to the service representative when I signed up, she told me exactly what my bill would be, give or take a little. Two hundred dollars more isn't just a little. Why did she not tell me that I would be charged for-"
Woman: "That's not her job. I don't know."
Myself: In my mind, 'That's not her job, or you don't know? Which is it?!' "I just don't feel this is at all fair. You're throwing hidden charges and not letting customers know even if they ask!" (Admittedly, I was fed up and raised my voice. I feel terribly guilty for that.)
Woman: "Well what do you want to do? I can't change it."
Myself: "Isn't there someone I could talk to about this?" (OTHER THAN YOU!)
Woman: "No."
Myself: "But your company lied to me about my bill this month by a gross-"
Woman: "Are you saying you won't pay it?"
Myself: "I don't think I should have to pay it, but-"
Woman: "Then it's going to collections!"
Myself: "If I may speak, please?!"
Woman: dead silence
Myself: "I don't think I should have to pay it, but I understand your company says I have to."
Woman: "We could run a credit check to take the deposit off."
Myself: (At least we're back onto something that stops her from snarling and yelling, joy!) "I'm afraid that because my students loans are still being repaid, I don't have any real credit."
Woman: "If you don't pay it, I'm going to make your credit a lot worse."
Myself: dead silence, not sure what to say. It's been fourty-five minutes, and I'm emotionally exhausted from the yelling on her end and attempting to calm myself. "Isn't there something else I can do?" I feel not like the customer, but like I am a vendor begging for their business.
Woman: "We can put you on a payment plan."
Myself: starting to lose control; I don't get emotional often at all as I did when I was a teenager "O-okay. Then let's do that."
Woman: "It'll be $205 for the first bill and $211 for the second one."
Myself: "Thank you." feeling guilty for yelling once at her, I follow this with, "I'm terribly sorry." and she hangs up.

Now the question: while her attitude was absolutely terrible, and I'm appalled at her behaviour, was the facts of what she said true? Mark called to shut off the gas, but does this then mean that because Terasen did not shut off the gas, that it is then my duty to pay costs incurred by their uncompleted job?

I'd really like to know, as it seems bizarre!

Yes, I do speak that formally in real-life, as well as type in that manner when I feel I should be polite. I often get in trouble at work because I sound too formal and bewilder customers when I tend to avoid contractions. Seniors raised me, you see, so it's not dorky, it's just normal in that life. :)

Oh, regarding a previous post: I have all those medical problems fixed up now! I spoke to my doctor on the coast, and he was quite angry and decided to speak to the other doctors involved. I feel that's sufficient, as he's quite a quiet man but is bloody scary when anger does pass his way.

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