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Donna Gee - Spain's Grumpy Old Gran

SHARE THE MOANS AND GROANS OF AN IRRITABLE EXPAT BRITISH JOURNALIST

Beware the power of Spanish power companies
09 October 2015 @ 22:55

Isn’t choice a wonderful thing? And never is it more welcome than when some company or other crosses you and you tell them to stick it up their you-know-what.

I’m still quietly congratulating myself at the fact I have deprived a couple of airlines of thousands of pounds over the years. Voting with my purse was the only way I could protest meaningfully after being ripped off by their devious practices. So I refused to fly with them again until I felt I had deprived them of suficient revenue to balance  the books.

 One airline went too far when they charged me a £40 ‘administration fee’ in addition to their standard £30 charge to change the name of my travelling companion on a Manchester-Alicante flight. Since the original ticket had cost exactly £70, it amounted to paying for the ticket again just to alter the name of the person travelling.

And I kicked the other company into space when they refused to pay me for an article I had been specifically commissioned to write for their in-flight magazine. Why wasn’t I paid? Because they sacked the editor who commissioned it before she could publish my feature article, which I had spent a considerable time preparing. I never did find out if I was legally entitled to the agreed fee - but I've never used that airline from that day to this.

Between them, those two episodes cost me less than £200 – a tiny fraction of what those two companies subsequently lost in fares and goodwill from Granny Grump and her family. Having said that, I’ve now wiped the slate clean, partly because the flight options from Alicante and Murcia to the UK are becoming fewer and fewer every year.

Maybe I took things too far with my boycott but isn’t having the option of going elsewhere just great when there’s a viable alternative?

The big problem arises when you have only one choice – namely take it or leave it. Which is precisely where I found myself when HC Energia, the only electricity supplier then operating on my urbanisation, cut off my supply without any warning.

It’s not the sort of thing that happens in the UK. At least not without plenty of notification and some serious defaulting with one’s payments.

My ‘crime’ was that there wasn’t quite enough in my account to fund one of HC Energia’s direct debit demands. As I had no overdraft facility, my Spanish bank rejected it. Nobody told me, of course – or I would have coughed up the few euros involved at the drop of a switch.

Instead, the electricity company cut off my supply, Tommy Cooper style. Just like that.

I was in England at the time so I wasn’t left in the dark. At least, not literally. The first I knew of the problem was when my keyholder phoned to say there was a notice glued to my front door in big red letters saying the electricity had been cut off.

Several days, several large banknotes and several mini heart attacks later, I managed to have the supply reconnected. I was also, as you can imagine, furious and immediately decided I wanted no more to do with a company that clearly had no concern for the welfare of its customers. 

The problem was that HC Energia (since renamed EDP) was the only company supplying our urbanisation. So it was a case of ‘don’t waste your Energia trying to switch cos there ain’t no-one else’.

I had no alternative to bite my tongue and stick with the devil I knew. And thankfully this particular demon has never given me any more hell.

That’s presumably because since I was cut off, I have always made sure there are funds in my account to meet every direct debit.

The fact that since last year I have had the option of switching to another supplier like Iberdrola may also be playing its part. But I doubt it….because I gather the devil I don’t know is also a dab hand at cutting people off at the slightest excuse.

Talk about a power struggle!



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