Another rant about E-On

A few weeks ago we got a letter from E-On saying that they needed to carry out a safety inspection on our gas meter and that as they had tried to contact us and we hadn’t got back to them they had made an appointment and if we didn’t change or keep it they would be forced to take legal action against us which could result in costs of over £200. Sarah rang them back and made an appointment for this morning as we were going to be away on holiday on the day they originally suggested. The appointment was for between 8am and 10am this morning. The problem we have is that the gas and electric meters are in the cupboard under the stairs and although it only needs to have a few things moved to reach the electric meter getting to the gas meter means emptying the whole cupboard. I keep telling E-On that’s it’s not my fault that when the gas meter was installed back in 1957 it was installed at the back of the cupboard, anyway I digress.

So this morning I had to empty the cupboard which was the last thing I needed on not only a Monday morning but the first day back after my holiday. I started to take out all of the things that were in there  and was quite surprised to find that there was an old CRT computer monitor in there – I thought we’d got rid of them all – so I put it in the shed and stuck it on Freecycle to try and get rid of it. I pondered whether or not to move the wine rack as it was possible to get to the meter without moving it but, I reasoned to myself, what if they needed to get the test equipment in there, so I moved it. Having done all this I set off to work but only got as far as the car when the E-On man turned up. I let him in and showed him the cupboard and he preceded to read the electric meter. I asked him about the safety test but he said all that he had been asked to do was read the electric meter.

I explained the situation and Sarah came down and found the letter. I left for work and she phone E-On to find out what was going on. It turned out that he was meant to do a safety check and also read the gas meter but apparently the way the system works he was sent two work orders from E-On one for the gas and one for the electric but at first glance only one of these showed up on his system. He told Sarah that this often happens and sure enough when he looked it was there (obviously he didn’t actually try to look when originally asked but managed to find it only after we’d called E-On). So he set about carrying out the safety inspection. This apparently consisted of him looking at the meter and saying yeah that looks fine! A visual inspection was all the safety check consisted of!

So we now know the following

1. Our meter is very old – but we knew that already after all it has got the date on it!

2. It has lead pipes going in and out of it.

3. It is likely that E-On will want to change it.

4. It is also likely that when the people come to change it they will refuse to do so because of the lead pipes.

5. It looks as if it’s ok!

So another thing to add to my list of moans about E-On – but while we’re on the subject I also found out something else about this annoying utility company. A few months ago it was suggested that we change tariff which we did but what they didn’t tell us was that the tariff we went onto didn’t qualify for Tesco Clubcard points – this was nowhere to be seen when we looked at the differences between the two – I only found out when my Tesco Clubcard statement came in the other day and there were no points from E-On. I went online thinking that maybe I had to re-register after changing Tariff but when I tried I found that the tariff I’m on doesn’t qualify for points. Another example of how this company treats it’s customers.

I’m beginning to think that this and the recent example of the Water company putting up our prices way above the rate of inflation in order to fund the installation of water meters in our area (presumably so they can charge us more in the long run) is another reason why we should be seriously considering the re-nationalisation of the utilities in this country – utilities are important for the day to day wellbeing of everyone and not for some finance people to cream off the profits. The idea of privatisation and competition may have been a good one but when making a few people money has become more important that investing in what is needed then maybe it’s time to say enough is enough.

Hair Raising Experience

The DJ on the radio this morning was asking people to ring in with experiences that happened while they were at school that have passed into legend. Unfortunately I heard it 5 minutes from the end of the show or I would have called in with this story:

When I was at school, many years ago, in Sunderland we had a physics teacher who had the classic Bobby Charlton comb over hair style obviously in a vain attempt to hide his baldness. One day while we were learning about electricity he decided to demonstrate the Van der Graaff generator. In case you don’t know the idea of the machine is that a constantly rotating belt builds up a static electric charge on the hollow metal sphere that surrounds one end of it. This will then discharge when a second metal sphere is brought into close proximity to it – the discharge is seen as a spark between the two spheres.

Anyway that’s how the experiment is supposed to work but there are other more fun ways of discharging the static charge. One such way is that if somebody stands on some insulated material like a block of polystyrene then touches the large dome the static will travel through them and be discharged to the first point it can find to earth itself – rather like getting a static shock when you touch a metal doorknob. So the teacher stands on the block and places one hand on the VDGG and then points to a Bunsen burner which has been turned on. The static charge leaps from the end of his finger and lights the Bunsen flame ta-da!!

Now as we all know there is another trick with static electricity – this is best demonstrated by rubbing a balloon against a jumper and holding it near to someone’s hair. The Van der Graaff had the same effect and his Bobby Charlton comb over started to stand on end. The whole class was in absolute hysterics as he fought to try and keep it down! However the demonstration needed both his hands to work so it was even more hysterical as he tried to continue! Happy Days!

I suspect that this couldn’t happen any more as the thought of someone putting himself up as a human lightning conductor would probably give the School’s Health & Safety person a even bigger shock than if he was to get on the end of the teachers electrically charged finger!