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Donna Gee - Spain's Grumpy Old Gran


Utility futility of Spain's power dimwits
29 May 2015 @ 02:07

Spanish logic takes some understanding, particularly where utility companies are concerned.
I'll tell you some other time why Telefonica is No.1 on the list of bunglers I refuse to do business with. Today's shocking tale concerns EDP, the company that supplies electricity to most of the urbanisation in which I live.
When my modest villa was built in 2005, HC Energia as it was known had a monopoly in the local power game. There were two options for new residents - sign with them or do without electricity altogether. Since I wasn't keen on sending emails by pigeon post or watching gas TV, I took the direct debit route.
All went well until I flitted back to the UK for a few weeks, leaving the key to my villa with a neighbour. A couple of days later, she and I both saw red, albeit in different shades. Marooned in England, I turned purple with rage when my panicky keyholder called to say, “Donna, there's a notice in big crimson letters attached to your front door saying your electricity has been cut off.''
I had just learned the hard way that in Spain, you ensure there is always enough money in your bank account to cover your utility bills. You won't get a phone call or written reminder if the factura isn't cleared by the bank straight away. It's no good pleading that great-grandma will die without her home life-support machine or that your cat's kidney condition requires dialysis. If the leccy bill bounces, it's lights out. Instantly.
Since HC Energia were at that time sole suppliers to the urbanisation, I couldn't pay them back by switching to a different supplier. Not that it would have made any difference, anyway. All of Spain's electricity companies seem to operate the same shock treatment if they don't get their money muy pronto.
They say that power corrupts but in EDP's case it just seems to have blown the brains of their administrators. Last week the dimwits sent a couple of representatives on a door-to-door mission to negotiate new five-year contracts with their British expat customers in return for a discount on future bills.
Nothing particularly loopy about the business plan, but since Spanish-speaking Brits are as rare as homophobic gays in Ireland, you'd assume these particular missionaries would speak English.
Not a word of it. Well, perhaps 20 between the two of them. Which is roughly equal to the number of parabolas espanol the six other households in my street can muster in total.
With residents permanently primed to be on our guard for
conmen and other crooks, the ingredients were there for a cocktail of confrontation. And within half an hour of Antonio the Antagoniser ringing my doorbell, it exploded.
Fortunately our administrator, a Spanish lawyer, was passing at the time and assured me the reps were bona fide. I managed to follow most of their patter and then found myself called into action as a makeshift interpreter for my neighbours, who hail from Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.
Both couples spend most of their time in the UK and saw no reason why their current electricity agreement should change.
Antonio, frustrated at not getting his message over, merely exacerbated the situation with his aggressive manner and finger-pointing.
“I don't understand what you are saying and if I don't understand I don't sign anything!'' barked the voice of the valleys as the tension mounted.
I'd never seen the gentle folk from Ulster in a paddy, but when Antonio demanded their passports in order to confirm they were who they were, the simmer temperature continued to soar.
The EDF power game was over. In my street at least, their business plan had been cut off. And all because they marked the wrong lingo card.

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