Sunday, October 30, 2011
To those who managed to make it through my last blog with their brain unfried...
I appreciate your willingness to stick it out to the end. And I really hope it is the end, though until I get the paperwork, I'm not going to be convinced. :-)
The blog came out of a letter of complaint I had spent several hours working on, before the lady from Customer Relations phoned me and made sending it unnecessary. I posted it as a blog, purely because writing it had been cathartic, and hamming it up with as many Water-related LOLs as I could find seemed like a good idea at the time. :-)
To those who decided TLDR (Which I recently discovered means Too Long: Didn't Read - Thanks Cheri for your recent informative techno-speak blog), I don't blame you in the slightest! LOL Life is too short for dealing with your own utility company hassles, never mind reading about other peoples' problems with them. :-)
So, we are having a quiet weekend, which would be more relaxing if TOM hadn't kicked in, but you can't have everything. :-)
The clocks went back last night, so we could have an extra hour in bed, but I couldn't turn over and go back to sleep, so I was up early. :-)
I've done my latest weekly review on my Active Health.
I'm 4 miles from Southport. I've walked exactly 400 miles in 105 days, and I have 510 miles left to go to reach John O'Groats.
I'm sticking at 7300 steps a day as my target this week because three days this week I didn't get my minimum in.
I did Workout 12 out of 30 on EA Sports Active Personal Trainer this morning. Then I did 50 minutes of Cardio with Kendell Hogan.
That plus a little mad dancing around the sitting room got my step count in today.
And now, after posting this, I am planning to spend the evening with my slow cooker recipe books again. Still checking through to see what I can afford to cook. :-)
Mustn't forget to tune in to see whose been kicked off Strictly tonight. Please can Nancy go now? I know she's been the comic turn this series, and we all love Anton, but enough is enough. :-) Or am I wrong? LOL
Who's your favourite this year? I can't choose between about half a dozen of them. :-) I've never watched Strictly before, aside from the occasional episode, so it's been fun to follow along from the start for a change.
And I've just had a long chat with my eldest, who is a devotee of Strictly. Seems she agrees with me. :-)
So, off to do dishes, get Tara in the bath, and play a little Jiggidy, then hello slow cooker recipe books.
Have a nice rest of the weekend.
How about some mod cons?
Friday, October 28, 2011
If you can hang in till the end of this blog, I'll be very impressed! :-)
The Anglian Water Saga
Utility companies... We all have them... And most of the time they are ticking along in the background, with us only ever noticing them when the direct debit leaves our bank account, or we get our quarterly bill.
Then, occasionally, they will come and knock on your door and make you an offer you can't refuse...
And that's what happened to me one fateful day...
A man knocked on my door one day, back in the winter- must have been January or February 2011 - and said that Anglian Water were in the area asking residents if they'd like a water meter fitted and was I interested? He came and checked out my kitchen sink cupboard, and said that someone would have to cut out the back of the cupboard so that the water meter could be installed, and if the council said no, then they would install the meter outside the back door instead.
So, I wrote to the council for permission to have a water meter installed and they said that as long as there wasn't a mess made, it would be fine! So, rather than have a meter outside, I waited for my daughter and son-in-law to come up for a visit around Easter so that he could cut the back of the cupboard out. But when we looked, we came to the conclusion that he might inadvertently hit a pipe and cause damage and we didn't want to risk that.
So I rang Anglian Water and arranged for a meter installer to come and put a meter in outside the back door.
So I thought...
On 1st June 2011, a meter installer turned up to fit the meter, and I sent him round the back of the house, which he looked rather puzzled by, but round he went. It took several minutes of talking at cross purposes before we finally realised that I was expecting him to put the meter in outside, and he was expecting to put one under the kitchen sink.
That was my first clue...
I told him the back of the cupboard was in the way, but he pulled a load of cleaning products out and had a look anyway, and after much grunting and swearing under his breath (yes I did hear him) he said he'd cut a hole in the back of the cupboard himself if he must (heavy sigh) but he wasn't supposed to. I said I'd sign a permission letter if that was what it would take, rather than have to wait for another appointment, but he said that wasn't necessary, and the deal was done.
It took a while (and a lot more muttering and swearing from him). He was not the talkative type,and once he started wielding his blowtorch I figured it was better not to distract him anyway, so I pushed the connecting door to the sitting room so that it was almost closed and left him to it.
When he had finished he left a booklet and didn't actually explain how the meter worked, so when I got down on the floor with a torch and saw a completely different meter to the one illustrated in the booklet, and two sets of figures, one going haywire, I did what any person worried about their bills would do. I panicked and rang Anglian Water. And the person I spoke to couldn't explain to me how the meter worked!!!
That was my second clue...
After a few minutes of going round in circles and getting nowhere I rang off and tried their website. Still no explanation, so I rang them again.
This time, I got someone with more than two braincells to rub together and she was able to explain what I was looking at. At last! *heaves a sigh of relief*
But wait ... there's more ...
She also explained that I will get a bill every six months, and how much a cubic meter of water costs (approx) so that I could roughly calculate what my bill would be. Plus she said that when the paperwork for the new meter went through, Anglian Water would send me a bill for the outstanding amount owed up to the date the meter was fitted (1st June 2011). This bill I expected to be getting was for 1 month's worth of unmetered water - around £45. (The £45 is based on the fact that I used to pay monthly by a booklet and this was about the usual amount I paid) and I was paid up to 1st May 2011.
Time went by, and I checked the meter daily at first, then weekly, and finally stopped thinking about it.
On the 3rd September Anglian Water sent me a bill for £458.66, which apparently covered unmetered water from 1st April 2011-31st March 2012. This was a random weirdness I wasn't expecting seeing as I didn't owe them anything aside from the £45-ish, but ignored it as I assumed that they were in the process of sorting out my switchover and the missive was merely a blip.
That was my third clue ...
Still nothing of the final unmetered water bill, and things went quiet again for a few weeks ... until about three weeks ago, when I received an IMPORTANT NOTICE - OUTSTANDING PAYMENT: AMOUNT NOW DUE £229 (letter was dated 1st Oct 2011 and took a week to reach me).
Apparently I had failed to make payment by the due date and had entered their debt recovery process.
So I rang the complaints department. The very nice lady I spoke to there had me on the floor grovelling about in order to give her details about my water meter and the meter reading, so that I could prove that I did actually have a meter installed, and that it was working, and measuring my water usage.
(The grovelling on the floor was necessary in order to be able to read the details on the meter, incidentally. I hadn't reached a state of abject grovelling to Anglian Water at this stage. *grin*)
From my meter information, not only did she stop the silly bill and final demand, but she also calculated the cost of the water and sewage I'd used at that point, and using that information gave me a projected cost for the year of around £220 - less than half the normal year's bill!!
So a bit of a win there at least. :-)
She said that Anglian Water would send me two bills. One for the outstanding unmetered water - £76.42 - and one for the metered water from 1st-10th June - just over £11. Apparently, and this bit is confusing, each water bill covers 12 months - April 1st to March 21st. BUT, if you pay by booklet, you pay ten instalments, not 12, and the payments run from 1st May - 1st February, then a two month pay break before you start the cycle again. This means that although I thought I was up to date until 1st May, I was actually only up to date until 31st March!!! that explains the £76.42 instead of around £45. *sigh*
Anyway, the bills arrived in due course, but they weren't quite as described.
One said I owed £76.42 from the period 1st April-31st May. But the bill 'was for information only'
The other said I owed £87.45 from the period 1st June-10th June!!! Payment should reach us by 26th Oct 2011!!! This was barely a week away as the bill date was 11th Oct, and it took ten days to reach me!
But I wasn't worried. It wasn't like it was a final demand, and with a bit of juggling it could be paid within a couple of weeks of the due date, so by the time the reminder came, it would be sorted out.
On the due date - 26th Oct - Anglian Water's debt collection department rang me and asked me to pay the bill that day over the phone! There was no swaying the woman, and although I was polite (largely because I was still half asleep - she woke me up!) she ended the conversation by telling me that they would not accept a cheque by the date I knew I could pay, and that if I didn't ring back after juggling my finances and make a payment over the phone they would send an external debt collector to knock on my door for the money!
I came downstairs very upset, dug out all the paperwork I'd received from them since the meter went in, and rang back.
Cue more fruitless discussion where the woman I spoke to refused to accept that they had messed up. Where she conceded that I had every right to be annoyed at the way my account had been handled. Where she could quite understand that threatening me with a man on my doorstep wasn't going to make the money magically appear in my bank account! But where she refused to admit that the paperwork I had was in no way a final demand, but simply an ordinary bill - 5 months late arriving with me due to their error, not mine - but still just the first bill, and therefore they were not within their rights to be ringing me and demanding payment.
I was eventually worn down and agreed to make the trek into town on 9th November to pay the £76.42 at Barclays Bank because it would take too long for a cheque to clear to their satisfaction and I refused to pay at the post office because they charge nearly £3 to do that!
(I don't make payments over the phone because I only have a debit card and don't therefore have the insurance cover you get with a credit card if someone defrauds you. I don't buy online for the same reason)
In spite of my best efforts and a reasonably jaunty blog that day, I was still very irritated by their attitude, but at least they had finally put a hold on my account until the 9th November, and this meant I didn't have to worry about someone turning up on my doorstep.
But I reckoned without Anglian Water's ability to stuff things up even more than they already had!
No, I didn't have a bloke on the doorstep.
They sent me another bill. Arrived today - Friday 28th Oct 2011.
It must have already been on its way because it was only dated 25th Oct, and actually only took 3 days to get here for a change, instead of a week-ten days!
The bill is for £176.01. Period of bill: 11th June-24th October! Includes the money already mentioned plus about £90 for metered water. I am not supposed to be getting a bill for metered water until December because I am on a six-monthly bill cycle!!!
I haven't rung them ...
Because I can't trust myself to be polite at this time.
I am ready to explode ...
And it won't be pretty!
Instead, I am seriously considering writing them an email and sending a link to this blog, requesting that someone phone me at their earliest convenience to tell me that:
1. I am no longer being pursued by their debt collection department.
2. I have received a substantial discount for all the harassment and stress they have caused by their actions and inactions.
3. That they have cancelled all my bills except for the £76.42, which they will accept a cheque for at MY earliest convenience.
4. They will send an amended and accurate bill to me mid December for my metered water WHEN it is actually due to be sent.
Or was it...
Having finally calmed down enough to ring them around 3pm this afternoon, I've discovered that they are running a new scheme with some customers, and that I've been switched to quarterly billing without my knowledge or consent!
What do they mean by 'some customers'?
However the woman did switch me to the So Low Tariff which amends the bill to £163.31 AND put a hold on it to the 31st December. Plus she has put a note on my account that I have made a verbal complaint and someone from the complaints department is supposed to be ringing me back when they have looked into things further.
BUT she says I can't be returned to 6 monthly billing and can only either stay on quarterly or switch to weekly, fortnightly or monthly with a booklet!
I've never heard such nonsense in my life! How can a company ride roughshod over their customers like this and expect to get away with it? Because they don't have any damn competition, that's why!!!
It sucketh mightily!
And yet, behold the positive End:
This evening, about 7.15pm, the phone rang, and it was a lady from the Customer Relations department of Anglian Water. We went through my complaints, and she has wiped the unmetered bill from my account as recompense for all the stress and problems I've had with the company over the last six months!
Yes indeedy! The £76.42 from April and May I no longer owe. I no longer have to juggle money I don't have in order to pay that by 9th November!
She is sending out a revised bill, with just the metered water owed, and I have until the beginning of December to pay it! The only thing she couldn't do was switch me back to six monthly billing, but as it will be easier to find the money quarterly anyway, and I'd already thought that through before she rang, I told her I wasn't worried about that.
So, now I owe less than £90!!! Yay!!!
So, if you've stuck with my blog this far, congratulations! LOL
Today was meant to be a day of R&R. I planned to give my aching bod a break from exercising and just chill today. Well, at least the Rest part of the R&R got done. :-) No exercise today. My hip is feeling a lot happier, and the twinges elsewhere are behaving themselves too. I'm just hoping that all the stress doesn't activate another Costo attack. Since the phonecall this evening I've been yawning my head off. A reaction to finally being able to let go of the stress. :-)
I am so looking forward to my bed tonight!
Here's to us all having a pleasant weekend, full of good healthy food, good company and good fun, with maybe a little exercise thrown in for good measure. :-)
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
You know the sort... No matter what you do or how you act, things just keep going wrong, until you reach the point where you can't wait to get to bed, go to sleep and start over tomorrow! LOL
Well, here I am, short on steps because I had a run in with my right hip and pulled a little something around my right shoulderblade as well. They will both likely be fine tomorrow, but my hip in particular niggled enough that I really couldn't push through like I normally would. Truth is, I'm hobbling a bit tonight.
That'll teach me not to overdo it on Tigger! :-) Normally I just jog on him, but today I took out my PT Rebounder DVD and did a couple of sessions, and the second session was a leap and twist too far, it would seem!
Of course, it didn't help that I'd already pushed myself holding squats for silly seconds with EA Sports Active. Easy - yeah, right! How many of you can hold a squat for 20 seconds? Guess who was stubborn enough to try ... twice!
Yeah, I know, that was my fault! LOL Well, if you don't try these things...
As if that wasn't bad enough, I've had to deal with the annoyance of a utility company bugging me for payment of a bill which actually isn't due for payment yet because they messed up royally when they switched me to a water meter. I've had to agree to make a payment I can't afford just to get them off my back, and as this all happened first thing this morning, it didn't exactly help my mood. A call to the ombudsman is in order I'm thinking, if the complaints department don't sort it out for me.
Fortunately, one of my dear Sparkfriends posted one of the funniest things I've ever read online, and it dissipated my bad mood just like that! If you want to see what restored my good humour, here it is:
It was a good job that was posted, because all the remaining niggles of the day went by with only the slightest of moans under my breath, and tired of the day as I am, at least I was still smiling ... just! :-)
And that smile was then broadened by another dear Sparkfriend who unexpectedly treated me to a kindness that I really appreciate too.
Tara is much better now. Whatever the bug was it finally let go of her, and to add to her happiness, her sister queued for 2 1/2 hours to get her a signed copy of Jacqueline Wilson's latest book at the Word Up Festival! It turned out to be a blessing in disguise that we couldn't go, because we'd have missed our return trains and been travelling at 11 at night if we'd had to queue that long.
So, here I am, very tired and more than ready for my bed, if I can prise Tara away from the music channels on the TV! :-)
Goodnight y'all! :-)
And these are all directed at the water company...
I know, but humour is my way of getting through the day! LOLOL
Monday, October 24, 2011
It is day 100 of my walk from land's End to John O'Groats. I have officially passed Liverpool and the Beatles and am heading for Southport. 386.6 miles in 100 days. I'm very happy with that. I've been aiming for 4 miles a day, but 3.86 miles per day is damned close!
When you think about the times when my health is a royal pain and stops me in my tracks, or at least slows me down. Yep, I'm doing good, so I am patting myself on the back. (Or I would if I could reach. LOL)
So, why a fresh start? Well, the last couple of months it has been hard to keep up with sparking. On a lot of occassions my inbox has become overwhelmed with spark emails because I just haven't had the time, and sometimes the energy, to keep up with all I'd have liked to. On a lot of days all I've managed to do is log in, spin the wheel and update my status.
So, Day 100:
A nice round number + a new A4 notebook to record my efforts = back to filling in my fitness tracker every day. :-)
So today's tracker looks good. For the time being the Strength Training section simply says EA Sports Active Personal Trainer, and I fill in the number of exercises under 'sets' so that I can see how many exercises I did.
Below that I'll record my steps. Current target is 7300 daily.
Below that is Mileage. I'll convert each activity into miles and minutes, which then automatically get translated into the Cardio section below the mileage without further effort from me. Today's only took a few minutes to input. :-)
My exercise today was:
EA Active: 17 exercises in 21 minutes
Cardio Burn video with Kendell Hogan - 10 minutes
Everybody Steps DVD with Gin Miller: sections 4, 5 and 6. - 27 minutes
That was a bit short of 7300 steps, by around 2500, but as I was feeling the Costo/Tietzes pain today, I allowed the steps from the grocery shopping to Waitrose and back count towards my total. So I've made my step count. :-)
I'm not using the nutrition tracker though. I used it for a long time and feel confident in my quantities now. I occasionally record a week or two in order to check my figures, but as long as the scale isn't going in the wrong direction, and my clothes are falling off me, I'm happy. I know I'm keeping up with freggies and water, and I weigh all my 'eyes bigger than my stomach' ingredients - potatoes, pasta, rice etc. :-)
I am also trying to get back to some of the team challenges I've been lax about lately. I plan to try and keep up with at least one challenge from each team I'm on. More if I can manage it. :-)
So that's the plan. Now I have it in writing watch me fall at the first hurdle! LOLOL
Actually, this would be a good hurdle...
Because if I can't summon the ooomph to leap over it, I can still walk around it and get my steps in! LOL
Have a Marvellous Monday!
We watched this film at the weekend. :-)
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