Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dealing with British Power Companies Really Is Enough to Depress Anyone; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dealing with British Power Companies Really Is Enough to Depress Anyone; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Keith Hann

IAPOLOGISE for my absence last week. I was a trifle depressed.

Or, to be more accurate, a horse burger depressed.

Though at least I had something to be depressed about, namely a substantial dose of work-related stress. Which is less disturbing, as any depressive can tell you, than the tsunami of gloom that occasionally engulfs the sufferer quite unexpectedly, for no obvious reason at all. I dragged myself back to work after a couple of days and promptly burst into tears when someone said something nice to me, never good for my image as a hardened cynic.

Cynical, yes, though I hope not unsympathetic, because a certain amount of empathy seems critical to the whole public relations process. A lesson clearly not grasped by the power company that recently upset one acquaintance through its heavy-handed approach to transferring an electricity account into her name after the sadly premature death of her partner.

She felt moved to make a formal complaint, which swiftly elicited a computer-generated letter of apology.

Which might have helped had it not been brilliantly addressed to the deceased account holder. So she complained again. Predictably, the dead man then received another, even more grovelling, letter.

This could easily run as long as The Mousetrap. Much like the apparently never-ending pursuit of my dear wife by the same power company and two successive debt collectors over a small bill left unpaid by a former tenant of the house she occupied before we got married.

For some reason these goons failed to acknowledge her notification that she had changed her surname on marriage, then unilaterally accorded her a sex change from Miss to Mr on their files. So whenever they rang her up (which latterly was several times per day) they then refused to speak to her because she was clearly not the man they were looking for. Attempts to correspond by email fell at the self-same hurdle.

Imagine their delight when they somehow got hold of my personal ex-directory number, because I am unmistakably a man and might therefore be just the lead they were after - if not the bill dodger himself operating under an unlikely pseudonym. …

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