Friday, 19 October 2012

Electric shocker!

We had the good fortune recently to snap up a neighbouring office suite which gave us extra space that we sorely needed. It comes with all the usual necessary evils, of course, including a couple more electricity meters. 

EDF seems to be the supplier of choice in this building and we already have one contract with them for the original office space so we decided to put the new eggs in the same basket.

The first thing that irked me was that our suppliers would not send us a written agreement if we wanted to take advantage of the discounted price in preference to the standard tariff. I am a busy chap but amongst a splendid team of people here I have a very hardworking practice manager who is more than willing and able to deal with this sort of thing.

But not when a supplier insists that the only way they will deal with this is by verbals over the telephone, with the director of the company – that’s me.

Like any other litigious primadonna, I feel I have hundreds of better things to do and I am suspicious in any circumstances where somebody absolutely refuses to show me a copy of the contract before I “sign”. 

The problem is that I am busy, changing supplier is actually a big deal and I have that awful feeling that we shall just be heading for another frying pan, if not a fire.

So, I end up speaking to a thoroughly charming young man called Sam to whom I explain – calmly – my misgivings. He is, throughout our discussions, a model of discretion and loyal to his employer whilst acknowledging that I am not a lone voice on this point.

After some good-natured wrangling and reassurance, we start the spiel. Unusually for a Friday, I am wide awake by now and listening carefully.

Part of the information I am given is that as I am entering into a “Fixed Term Period Contract” (one year) the prices that I am about to agree will not change, unless of course I am in breach of my obligations by non-payment etc.

Oh, and hang on – there is something else....

…the “fixed” price may also change if, to quote:-

“Any cost imposed on us in connection with processing, distributing, transporting, selling or supplying energy is increased, or calculated in a different way, or a new cost is introduced, which affect our costs of providing your supply”.

In other words, it’s a fixed price unless, err, prices rise.

Not to worry! Sam reassures me that even if supply costs do rise, EDF will not necessarily pass that cost on. Why not? Because consumers might be unhappy!!

I never knew that utility suppliers were blessed with such profound emotional intelligence.

Naturally, I asked Sam for a copy of the wording. He confirmed that I would receive a written agreement by post but said that they do not send out copies of “the script”.

Reason? “It’s considered commercially sensitive”.

You bet it is!