Gas Central Heating

Gas central heating and boilers seem to be the most singular things that confuse a lot of people. Not everyone – there are those who know exactly what a boiler is, and all the details. It’s very refreshing when these people call in.

Every single day we get a least one person who calls in and the boiler or central heating is completely foreign to them. I always find it surprising that people don’t know whether their boiler is gas, electric or oil. Surely people know what bills they pay? Or do they have so much money that they can pay bills without even looking at them or being bothered what they are for? It must be great to be to be in that state of affairs, where money is no object.

If I had a £1 for the amount of times that I’ve had to ask someone if they have a gas metre on their property I’d be a millionaire now. And the amount of times a customer has said they don’t know – I’d have amassed thousands. How can you not know whether you have a gas metre or not? How can you not know whether or not you pay for oil delivery?

Surely if you own a property you would have some kind of knowledge of how it runs and works? Surely you would know what keeps it warm? Surely you would know what heats the water? Or am I being naïve?

This week at work was no different, except that I had a couple of other memorable calls around the boiler subject.

One person wanted us to go and do the annual service on the boiler. This is not unusual – we do many annual services. It would have been a straight forward request except that she wanted the engineer to turn the boiler on for her, as she didn’t know how to do it. She thought that getting the service done would ensure that the engineer would have to turn the boiler on to check it was working! Why she didn’t just read the booklet that comes with the boiler I really couldn’t answer.

Then there was the guy who wanted to take out a policy for his central heating. I asked if there was anything wrong with the boiler. The answer was a firm no. The boiler was working fine and there was no problem whatsoever. A bit further into the call I began to get suspicious so I asked again.

‘No, there’s nothing wrong with the boiler. I just can’t turn it on.’

I’ve not yet been asked for an electrician to show someone how to switch on a light – change the light bulb, yes – but not switch on the light. Time yet.

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Questions

When a customer calls in to us they hear an IVR recording before they get through to an agent. It tells them the company name and gives a bit of information about the company. After this they get through to an agent who proceeds to answer any queries they may have. Answering questions is an everyday part of the job. There are multitudes of customers calling each and every day with all sorts of questions, from the most technical to the utterly sublime.

Here are a few of the questions we are faced with on a regular basis:

‘Do you know if it’s covered under my home insurance?’
‘I don’t know anything about your home insurance so I can’t possibly answer that question.’

‘£12 for the year? What does that mean?’
‘It means it’s £12 for the year.’ Was my reply.

‘I love the way it says from £2.50 a month. Ha ha..’
‘If you press the button where it says ‘find out more’ you’ll see it’s £2.50 month with an excess or £5 month without an excess. It’s all very clear.’

‘I’m calling about the plumbing cover. Is this building insurance?’
‘No. It’s plumbing cover. Building insurance covers your building. That’s why it’s called building insurance.’

‘I’m looking at the cover that’s £6 a month. Can you tell me the price?’
‘£6 a month just like it says.’

‘Is that the chiropodist?’

‘I’d like to order the next batch of bird seed for my budgie. Has is it come in yet?’

‘I take it you have my details in front of you?’
‘No. You haven’t even told me your name yet, never mind your address.’

‘There’s nothing wrong at the moment. I know it won’t cover pre-existing problems. I have a dripping tap – can you send someone out now?’

‘What do you mean ‘natural gas’?’
‘Is there a gas metre in your home?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know. How am I going to know that?’

‘Can you tell me who my water board is?’

‘Can you put me through to an overseas number?’

‘I’m trying to get through to…but they’ve got an 0845 number. Yours is a Freephone number, so can you put me through?’

And I work for an insurance company.

Do You Know Your Own Home?

Customer called up today asking for boiler cover. Nothing unusual about that. It’s one of our main policies.

‘Is it natural gas from the metre?’ I asked.

‘I don’t know.’

I changed the format of the question. ‘Do you get the gas piped in from the mains? Or is the boiler LPG or oil?’

‘Oh. I don’t know.’

I tried again. ‘Do you have a gas metre on the property?’

‘I don’t know. A man comes to read a metre.’

‘Is it a gas metre?’

‘I really don’t know.’

At this point I lost my patience. ‘Surely you know if you have a gas metre in your own home?’

‘I didn’t realise this was going to be so difficult,’ she said. ‘Just leave it. I’ll phone back another time.’

How can people not know what metres they have in their own home, or what type of boiler they have? Surely this is simple information that a homeowner would find out before moving into a property? Surely people know what type of bills they are paying and what they are for?

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that there are a few people, often women, who allow their partner to deal with everything in the home, utility wise, to such an extent that they have no idea of what’s going on. They are completely ignorant of paying the bills, what kind of insurance they have, where they get the energy from, etc. This is an outlook from the Middle Ages that sometimes raises it’s ugly head in the 21st century.

It’s an extremely outdated view of how a partnership or marriage should work. What happens if the partner is unable to sort things out for whatever reason? The other person is then left struggling without a clue. When will this type of pathetic, bigoted attitude cease? Surely it would be better for everyone to take responsibility in the home, not just one person?

Alternatively, wouldn’t it be so nice to have so much money that you could just pay bills and not care about what they are or how many they are?