I recently decided to switch energy providers – I’ve done it loads of times so surely it wouldn’t be a big deal to sort out.
My new provider asked me for meter readings. Simple enough but my current provider decided a while back that I should have a smart meter. Smart would surely mean better. The problem was the new smart meter doesn’t actually give you a meter reading and the meter itself was blank. The provider’s app was no help and wanted to direct me towards a web chat thing, which seemed like a pain so I rang them up.
Once through I had to punch in my account number, date of birth and postcode, generally a couple of times as the automated voice kept saying it hadn’t got it. I then got put through to that nice George Ezra who mumbled me a song until I got to a real person.
I told the real person that I needed them to give me the reading that the meter was beaming to them but wouldn’t share with me. He said he would need to transfer me. I got more of George and a song about being unstoppable.
The second person said that they weren’t the right person and would have to transfer me again.
George was once again imploring me to give him one good reason why he should never make me change but I was going to change provider if it killed me. The lass was warbling against how unstoppable she was but she was not going to stop me getting to my new energy nirvana.
By the time I got to person three I was volcanic. She asked again for all of the information I’d punched in thrice. She said she was sorry with all the sincerity of Theresa May. Then she saved the best till last. She told me that to get a meter reading I needed to press 9 on the meter and hey presto it lit up with the information. She told me the information about this was available on their website and could have been accessed by the help feature. In essence, she told I was an idiot. It was all so obvious. I felt weary and a bit dim.
Only if it was so obvious why couldn’t the smart meter tell me that? Why wasn’t it clear how to get the ‘oh so simple information’ on the app? And if it was so bloomin’ obvious why couldn’t call centre muggins 1 and 2 tell me before I spent half an hour mostly listening to morose George and the unstoppable lass?
All of this stuff – increasing computerisation and self-service – is not for our benefit, it’s to minimise staffing to help the firms bottom line. These sort of encounters are a sign of the times. Last week I was struck by a quote within an article about stretched mental health services – one mental health trust representative said:
“More people of all ages are becoming ill as a result of the pressures of modern life.”
So that’s it – modern life is bad for you. Our supposed advances often leave us frantic and stressed. If modern life is the problem then increased funding and better services whilst necessary and helpful won’t be enough – for better health we need life to be fundamentally different.
For me the heart of our flawed modern life is the myth and illusion that life is something for mankind to conquer and control – it’s this approach to life that leads to life as struggle as some get ahead and many fall by the wayside.
We’ve all known situations and relationships that are fractious and drain us. However, we’ve also all experienced kindness and generosity, empathy and co-operation. A better life is a life where we contribute to a world like this – a relationship, workplace and community at a time. My help to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem is my faith. I can call upon the Spirit that gives me love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:2).
If you need some of that too ask your heavenly father today.