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Inexplicably free of charge

A funny realization has hit me a few days ago – in a certain sense, somehow, we have been living for free for quite some time.

Ok, that statement is true only when applied to gas, electricity and broadband internet. And more likely than not, it will catch up with us sooner or later. But the fact remains: We have not paid for the aforementioned utilities in months.

There must be information mix-ups that contribute to this state. Or the practice of sending a bill once a quarter, as opposed to monthly, coupled with a misdirected mail one day may have played a part…

The first day that I moved into this house, I called to set up utility accounts in my name. The gas service had actually had to be re-connected on that day by the company named EDF Energy, so I called them and opened an account for both electricity and gas. I even received a bill from them at some point. But a bit afterwards, I received a letter from them with regrets at my leaving their gas supplier services. I called their customer service and was informed that since the gas for the house was previously supplied by British Gas, that company was reclaiming its right to serve. If I wanted to switch to EDF, I needed to expressly notify British Gas.

Mind you, I still get lost sometimes in what customer service agents on the other end tell me – they invariably have heavy accents, sometimes Indian, but often just unpolished British. So I cannot state with confidence that I understood the explanation properly. Stupefied and not comprehending, I mumbled something to the tune of OK, and figured that the matter was not worth worrying over.

I did manage to elicit a confirmation that EDF was still my electricity supplier.

Since then I received not a single bill from British Gas. And EDF, instead of sending me the electricity bill, has provided me with several “final” gas bills, culminating in furnishing me with a check for £4.20 as I had seemingly overpaid for their services…

Broadband matter is also confusing. I have already described the fun that I had been having trying to get British Telecom to acknowlegde that they provide broadband service to me. I eventually called them, refused to give my account or phone numbers, explained that I am unsure whether I get my service from them at all, and a rare clearly-speaking girl on the other end told me that, wait, she could easily check whether I was getting my broadband from them by executing some sort of ping to my router. And the guys before that did not know it was possible??? I gave her router details and, voilá, “Yes, sir, you are definitely getting your broadband service from us”. “Can you look up my new account number?”, I asked. “You need to speak to the sales department about that”…

After that conversation, I was full of hopes that a new bill would arrive any day, giving me the much needed new account number, but it has been a couple of months since then. And the internet speed, while occasionally unacceptable, is bearable most of the time, so there has not been a reason yet to call again.

So there you have it. Three different services are being received at no charge for the moment. I am contemplating calling each of EDF, BT and British Gas and beating out of them whether they own any of my services and intend to be sending me bills, but I do not want to waste time on aggravating customer service conversations.

Then again, maybe I am being reported to a credit bureau for non-payment of bills already. In the absence of Social Security Number, everything is keyed off person’s name and address, and I clearly have my name on the council tax bill, which makes all payments for the property to be my sole responsibility. I did not have any issues securing financing with BMW, but I was recently rejected for a credit card… 😉

On a completely unrelated note, Kimmy was cited in her school newsletter, which I am sure will make you as proud as it did us, despite the misspelling of her name…

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