back to article Botched migration resulted in a great deal: One for the price of two

Welcome once again, gentle reader folk, to that buffer between the weekend and the workaday we call Who, Me? in which Register readers turn raconteur and recount tales of tech gone wrong. This tale comes from a reader we'll Regomize as "Ethan" though he doesn't really need his identity protected as he appears to be blameless. …

  1. Giles C Silver badge

    The opposite problem

    We had the accounts department decide to not pay the bill for one of the service providers at the time we used two. BT and Verizon, suddenly get an emergency call both the primary and secondary lines have failed at the same time (they were in separate buildings) both my boss and me where at a local conference when the call came though.

    So one of us went to each site (the closest to our homes) and found the carrier on both circuits had failed,

    A quick bank transfer later and we were backup and running with only about 3 hours or £120k in lost revenue for finance to account for……

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      And was the accounts deparment billed for the lost revenue ?

      Because I would have taken that from its budget.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        And was the accounts deparment billed for the lost revenue ?

        Because I would have taken that from its budget.

        There's no way they'd let themselves be accountable...

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          There's no way they'd let themselves be accountable...

          Just tell the CEO that he can't afford that extra Jaguar/Ferrari/Bugatti/yacht*) due to accounts fucking up.

          *) More highly expensive items available, depending on taste.

    2. Sam not the Viking

      Re: The opposite problem

      Soon after we were taken over, accounts were run by Head-Office off our site. Accounts decided that all terms of payment would be doubled, so the 30-day payment terms to our suppliers became 60 days, if they were lucky. This is a standard accounting wheeze, well known by El Reg commenteers.....

      Our progress-chaser was a determined lady whom it was unwise to cross, and when she found out that our usual supplies of toilet paper for the offices and factory had been withheld by our supplier, pending payment of previous month's accounts, she phoned up our head-office chief accountant who was unsympathetic and unhelpful.

      In response, she explained: "I'm on my way to your office and I am going to piss on your desk." Two minutes later a return call advised that payment had been made and deliveries happened the next day.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: The opposite problem

        It is even funnier if an essential service is already suspended (or even terminated), resulting in lost revenue and profit to a high multiple of the "savings".

        1. NoneSuch Silver badge

          Customer Service

          Works both ways.

          I once closed out a bank account (due to poor service and mounting fees) after opening up another at a bank right across the street. As I was closing the accounts, there was a small balance on my credit card ($12) and as I already had the new debit and credit card from the new institution I tried to pay the balance off with those.

          Teller looks at me with a raised eyebrow. "Oh we don't honour those cards." So I was forced to cross the street, in driving rain and wind to get enough cash out of the ATM to cover the bill. Went back into the old bank soaking wet and dripping. The teller loved it.

          For close to five years, I received three statements a month (debit card, credit card and bank statements) from the old bank through the Post, all with zero balances. I could have picked up the phone and cancelled them in minutes, but my enforced walk in the rain was still remembered. Each statement was several pages long, even with a 0.00 balance and cost a minimum of $0.53 postage. More if they included brochures and extra marketing materials, which they typically did. So that was 60 months * $1.59 or $95, minimum. Plus the printing costs of the marketing leaflets, the time to pay someone to print off and package them every month.

          "Vengeance and retribution require a long time; it is the rule." - Madame Defarge, A Tale of Two Cities.

          1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Customer Service

            I similarly took vengeance on vodafone, years ago.

            They sent me a final bill for £0.23 - after I had cancelled the direct debit with my bank. Business guidance at the time was that any final bill for a trivial amount should simply be written off.

            So I waited for them to send a chasing letter or two (each letter would cost them more than that in postage)

            Then sent them a cheque (I said this was years ago) - knowing that it cost businesses to pay in a cheque.

            I "forgot" to put a stamp on the envelope - again knowing that big companies will just pay the postman from petty cash for missing postage fees.

            1. Killfalcon Silver badge

              Re: Customer Service

              Underpaid postage is automated most places - it was at HMRC back in 2005, anyway. Just added to the regular bills.

            2. G7mzh

              Re: Customer Service

              When I sent Vodafone a cheque - for rather more than 23p - it simply disappeared into their system and they denied all knowledge of it. It became incredibly difficult to actually pay them; I waited until they phoned to chase and gave them a credit card (which they would pay so many percent on) and then cancelled the account.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Customer Service

                This is where checks are a good thing. You get them back after they've been cashed or at least have access to an image of the endorsed check. If a company insists that you didn't pay your bill, you can send them a copy. I'd always write my account number and/or invoice number for what I was paying on the check. These days I will print out the confirmation page or write the confirmation number on my paper bill. I still want to receive paper bills as the post has been more trustworthy than email. It also gives me something to put in the files which I'll store for a year or two before purging without having to fire up the printer and pay for paper and ink out of my own pocket.

              2. Northern Lad

                Re: Customer Service

                I had a similar experience with a bank here in the UK. Many years ago, having not used the account for sometime they sent me several letters saying they were going to close the account, the sent me a cheque for the outstanding balance. A princly sum of £0.25 if your American, think 25 cents.

                Wasn't worth getting in the car and going to the bank to cash the cheque. Now surely had they said the amount is £0.25, if you don't respond we will take it that you want the funds to go to charity X. (probably the braches christmas party but hay, ho)....

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Customer Service

            It's also most important that you empty any deposit accounts before notifying the bank you are closing them so they don't impound the money to cover outstanding checks or other payments. It may also take some time to get a new debit/credit card so you want to start your new account to get your cards and also make sure your pay is going to the new account if you have direct deposit for a couple of months. I've heard tales of people switching banks and after notifying their employer of the new account information, some screw up has the employer reverting payments back to the old bank in the second month. You wind up having to schedule another appointment at HR to get it sorted but at least you can still get your pay and meet your bills.

      2. Martin

        Re: The opposite problem

        Oh, yes. In my days as a contractor, I managed a couple of times to get a contract direct with the company, rather than through an agent. The upside was a significantly better rate - the downside was chasing the accounts department. They just didn't seem to understand that, for a sole trader, a 90 day delay on payment of invoices was a bit of an issue.

        At one company, I'd managed to get the accounts department to agree a thirty day payment schedule, which I could live with. A few months went by - and then, after five weeks, I hadn't been paid and asked the accounts team where the money was. "Oh, ninety days payment" trots out the grunt at the other end. So I spoke to my boss, who spoke to the accounts department, who promised a cheque would be raised immediately. By the Friday, it hadn't appeared. So I spoke to my (very supportive) boss again, and told him if the cheque didn't arrive on Friday, I wouldn't be coming to the office on Monday. It didn't. I didn't go into the office on Monday morning. My boss spoke to someone at accounts. I don't know what he said, but a cheque was couriered to me on the Monday afternoon.

        This, btw, seems to be a UK issue. I had a friend who ran a small company with international customers, large and small. UK companies were always three months, and then you might get into the next cheque run. Far East companies paid in thirty days or less.

        1. Sam not the Viking

          Re: The opposite problem

          When we were taken over, the new owners expected to make major 'buying gains' due to their vastly bigger turnover and spending. I was sent to one of our usual suppliers to discuss the new arrangements and how it was anticipated that we would now get the 50% discount of the holding company. Over a good lunch (I had worked with this suppler for years) the MD explained that we received a bigger discount than our new owners because "You pay on time" whereas "They don't. Ever".

          I went back to explain that the expected buying gain might actually be an increase in price.

          1. NITS

            Re: The opposite problem

            My employer decades ago had become owned by a Fortune 500 conglomerate. We were having trouble getting parts because suppliers kept putting us on credit hold. If the terms were 2% 10 days, net 30, the bean counters were taking 60 days to pay, and taking the discount anyway. We engineers ended up telling suppliers that our hands were tied, and to factor these circumstances into their price quotes.

            This was the same outfit that told us that out pension plan was more generous than the rest of $BIGCO, so in the name of "making things fair" they were terminating it for those of us with less than 10 years' tenure, and we could fund our own 401Ks.

            This was also the same outfit that called us into a meeting, and basically said that they'd been looking at the revenue per employee, and since the numerator wasn't looking exciting, they'd decided to change the denominator. In other words, layoffs were about to happen.

            This was the same outfit that, despite 50 years of hard work by generations of employees, having achieved 90% market share, fell to #3 in the industry over the course of the next 15 years under these manglers. They used us as a cash cow to fund their other misadventures.

        2. Spanners Silver badge

          Re: The opposite problem

          Far East companies paid in thirty days or less.

          Curious how their economies are not doing as badly as ours...

          1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

            Re: The opposite problem

            Almost like cash(flow) is king!

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The opposite problem

          A Fortune 500 company I used to work at (I was a permanent contractor) decided to change all payment terms to 90 days. Our vendors were less than pleased. A number of them simply declined future business, since they didn't want to wait 3 months to get paid. (If the terms are "net 90", no check will be cut before at least day 80.) A few stayed, however - and simply increased their prices to compensate. Foot, cannon...

          1. Northern Lad

            Re: The opposite problem

            If you are sitting for 90 days on millions of pounds owned out its effectively a revenue stream making money, interest gained month on month makes it very worth while for a lot of large companies/

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: The opposite problem

          "This, btw, seems to be a UK issue. I had a friend who ran a small company with international customers, large and small. UK companies were always three months, and then you might get into the next cheque run. Far East companies paid in thirty days or less."

          Ford used to pay their suppliers in 30+ days, but the margins they allow those suppliers is razor thin so cash flow is a major concern for them. I believe it was after a few suppliers had to shut down suddenly and weren't able to send parts to Ford that Ford realized that it was more expensive to stall payments if it could mean a production line coming to a screeching halt. Payments then went to Ford paying for the parts they received as they arrived which put the cash flow management headache on Ford's foot. I think it was after Ford took a position with Mazda that they settled on paying for parts every day as they were installed on vehicles going down the production line. The suppliers had to work with Ford so there was always inventory at the plant topped up to a certain level in exchange. With electronic payments, it isn't a big deal to transfer money on a daily basis and it's all automated so there's no labor cost in doing so. In fact, there can be less labor cost due to the automated processing instead of having some A/P clerk matching invoices with receiving reports. There's no question the parts were received as they were installed on a car being assembled.

      3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: The opposite problem

        I feel your pain.

        Corporate accounting periodically "loses" invoices from our parts vendor (to be fair, there are several orders per day). Parts vendor eventually freezes shipments until balance is paid. Lather, rinse and repeat. Corporate doesn't give a crap and, unfortunately, our group is very low on the totem pole.

        From experience, corporate accounting is more error prone than they should be, which is a bit scary.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: The opposite problem

          "Corporate accounting periodically "loses" invoices from our parts vendor"

          That's one of the top ways to stall payments. There are classes on the numerous ways to put off paying vendors which includes things like telling the vendor that the person that signs/authorizes payments is on holiday or that your invoice didn't make it into this check run and the next run is scheduled 10 days from now. It might also be that an audit is underway and until it's finished they can't cut any checks. I had a major aerospace company run down a large fraction of the list with me once. The next time they needed a part, I required payment in advance. They told me they couldn't do that. I offered to send the part COD, they couldn't do that either, I was told. As the parts were build-to-order with no other suppliers, I let them know their only other option was to rebuild their acoustic test chamber using parts from the only other manufacturer with a similar product. I had a good laugh as I knew that company's president and he told me the only way they'd ever work with that company again was if they paid a 2x premium and sent cash well in advance. I'm not sure what the aerospace company wound up doing. I'm sure they could get an offshore company to knock off something for them, but those companies also require payment in advance. All of this was for under $1,000 in parts and the company brought in billions in revenue mainly from government contracts.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The opposite problem

        I know a bloke who runs a furniture shop, a retail business mostly selling to the public not other businesses. His sales girl is contacted by another retailer who wants to buy some furniture from them. She is excited because she is quite new and this will be her first big sale. However my mate is unimpressed by their terms which have been sent in the form of a contract in a password protected spreadsheet somewhat bizarrely. The terms are 45 days for payment after the furniture has been delivered. There’s no deposit being offered and they want to be able to cancel with no penalty up to two weeks in.

        This is a retail store, they don’t do sales that way, and he tells her that. He then notes that it’s an old excel spreadsheet where the password is easy to crack. So he cracks it, changes the terms to match his terms then signs it and sends it back. The owner of the other retailer calls him and apologises for the oversight, they don’t normally send those terms to other retailers. She says she’ll pay the deposit now over the phone with a card. She’s also very curious as to how he’s managed to edit her password protected terms…….

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: The opposite problem

          She’s also very curious as to how he’s managed to edit her password protected terms…….

          I don't know how old this story is, but for years my usual way to "crack" protected Excel sheets is by opening them in the spreadsheet program of Libre Office.

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: The opposite problem

      A small business I was advising had one provider of telecoms which was Tiscali. They had switched from BT to Tiscali about three years earlier because the deal was far better and supposedly faster speeds. I spotted they were paying BT each month for lines that had been moved to Tiscali (now TalkTalk Business) and for what therefore appeared to be no service from BT. I queried this with BT and mentioned the numbers they supposedly were billing us for. Someone eventually got back to me to say that the lines had only been switched about 8 months ago, so yes a small refund was due. I said that was bollocks and they should check again please. I’m transferred to our “account manager” who is keen to resolve this for us. He’s having trouble because he’s got the same information supplied to him by the another team (Open Reach?) as the previous person.

      Suddenly I realised what the issue was, eight months ago Tiscali had been taken over by TalkTalk. That was what the other team were using as the date point which was then being used to calculate the refund. He agreed but requested any evidence we had to back this up. Once evidence was provided BT agreed to cough up a full refund. The person who had done the transfer from one provider to the other had left shortly afterwards to go to another job. It was suggested that was why it had been missed, the accounts woman had no idea you could do telephone lines without BT. She therefore hadn’t raised any queries when Tiscali was added to the bills needing to be paid each month.

  2. GlenP Silver badge

    Been There...

    We upgraded an EFM connection to fibre on the clear understanding that although the EFM connection contract still had a while to run this was an upgrade and therefore the contract would be terminated at no cost to us,

    A couple of months later we get a bill for the EFM connection, but the provider assured us it was just taking time to process. 3 months later another bill, and every quarter afterwards. After about a year they finally managed to process terminating the connection and about another 9 months later we finally received the credit for all the charges.

    Overall we'd got the best of the deal on the fibre installation anyway - their surveyor had decided the cable would go through the existing duct and therefore they'd cover the installation charge so the contract was signed. 3 months later they'd installed the new duct right back to the exchange and probably lost more money on the deal than the value of the contract!

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Getting a refund

    Yeah, I can well imagine : zero success.

    And the argument cannot go both ways, I think. Provider A was switching top floor access to Provider B. Company made a new contract with Provider B for ground level. The two are not linked, and the provider is not responsible for a connection that is never used.

    Maybe, just maybe, Provider B could have sent an inquiry after two months, wondering if it was normal to have no activity on a connection, but come on - we all know that, as long as the bills are paid, there is no problem.

    So, yeah. Check your billing.

    1. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: Getting a refund

      Maybe, just maybe, Provider B

      In our case, Provider B was not only not providing service -- the exchange had been decomissioned and the lines cut. They lacked the physical ability to provide service.

      They point out that we had an agreement to pay. We point out that the agreement is predatory, there is no consideration, and must be void.

      Discussions are ongoing.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Getting a refund

      "Maybe, just maybe, Provider B could have sent an inquiry after two months, wondering if it was normal to have no activity on a connection, but come on - we all know that, as long as the bills are paid, there is no problem."

      It would take a human to notice that there was no activity and they might just think that it's a fail-over line and just hasn't been used. You can count on their being monitoring to detect if there is more traffic than contracted for, but not for zero.

      In the US, larger facilities are required to have fire sprinklers and they are often on a different water line. A much larger water line where the billing is based on the pipe size in addition to any usage. Unless there is a fire or some testing has been done, there won't be any usage on that meter. If by manufacturing business ever grew to a large size, I was going to break processes down into units were I didn't need to have sprinklers in the building. The cost to have those big lines on standby was huge.

  4. Korev Silver badge

    The old office where no one worked. Ethan's company was paying for a service that had exactly zero users.

    A true BOFH would have taken full advantage

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You mean like being the owner of Provider B, getting paid by the company to provide service - which was really coming from the still-existing connection to Provider A, also paid by the company?

  5. Flightmode

    When I lived in Amsterdam, I first rented an apartment (this was in 1999). I dutifully signed up with the electricity company (whose name rhymes with "gluon") and had no issues during my stay there. When I bought my own apartment a year later, I contacted the same company and notified them of this, and they kindly connected the new place. It wasn't until about 18 months later that I was looking over my financials and realized that the electricity company was still sending me bills for the old place AS WELL as for the new one.

    It took me a number of increasingly angry phone calls, emails to the owner of the first apartment (who insisted on not having had free electricity for the whole time and certainly wasn't going to compensate me for this), registered letters and manager escalations until I finally got confirmation from the power company that they had cancelled my old contract and that my old apartment was nowhere to be found in their systems anymore. I asked them to send me a registered letter confirming this, and when poor customer service agent said "Oh, no, there's no need for that, I can see that it's all correct in the computer", I doubled down and demanded a copy of that letter sent to me via fax BEFORE we hung up the call. She went on mute for a minute and came back saying that her manager was sending the fax right now. And sure enough, it arrived - addressed to my old apartment.

    Seriously, I must have been the first person to have ever moved in The Netherlands. The electricity company was far from the only one that messed things up. I had phone and TV / Internet services from my employer and even got to use their super-secret back-office team for VIPs only to help me process everything. Did they get it sorted for me? B*ll*cks they did. But that's another story.

    1. Caver_Dave Silver badge

      I had exactly the same in the UK. Luckily got it eventually sorted before they went under due to not hedging the wholesale energy prices.

    2. TonyJ

      This brings back memories.

      After my divorce, I decided to rent rather than rush into buying a place and I think I dropped on with the UK's only decent landlord!

      Anyway when you move into a rental here you have to basically take the incumbent supplier for the first month or so before you can choose another one.

      As it turned out though, the current one was offering the cheapest rates so I stuck with them. For 9 months whereupon they went bust as well.

      The new operator came onboard and it took another three months before I was on their system. 6 weeks later I moved out of the property but had the lease for around another 5 weeks or so.

      Then the fun started. The landlord couldn't get the new tenants signed onto the gas and electric because it was still in my name (despite having told them I'd moved out).

      Then they decided I owed almost £3,000 for roughly 3 months of energy, more than half of which no one was in the property.

      Then they told my ex-landlord what I allegedly owed.

      Then they denied having, or even needing to have, a DPO.

      Eventually I emailed the CEO and within 10 working days, they acknowledged the problem at their end (I had monthly meter readings despite them being allegedly smart), informed me that the outstanding bill was actually £110 (which I'd still have argued was wrong) but as way of an apology, waived it.

      Their DPO tried to deny they'd discussed monies owed with my ex-landlord, despite my having an email from him where he told me the exact amount (arguably no proof I hadn't told him it first, of course) but in the end I couldn't be bothered to carry on arguing.

      But it's so concerning - had I been old and/or vulnerable, that would have been potentially dangerous. Their handling was just aggressive and shitty.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I think I dropped on with the UK's only decent landlord

        Nah, there's more than one of us - I'd like to think that had you been with us then you'd have also considered us part of that group labelled "decent".

        But otherwise, given the reputation of much of the UK's energy supply industry (especially the "big six"), nothing in your story surprises me at all.

        had I been old and/or vulnerable, that would have been potentially dangerous. Their handling was just aggressive and shitty

        See the stories about how the number of "meter changes" have rocketed since (so called) "smart" meters allow them to do it remotely - yeah right, so you'd genuinely exhausted all alternatives with every one of those four thousand customers listed on the one court document and rubber stamped by the judge in only a few minutes ? Yeah, right. Not that "came home to find locks changed, and no lights or heating as the replacement meter had run out of credit and I had no means to top up" stories are rare either.

        Given this, and the remote disconnect facility that allows them to remotely turn off your power, neither of which will ever be misused to actioned by mistake - and people still wonder why I'm no fan of "smart" meters. And that's before you get to the unnecessary data collection ...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I let out a shop with a flat upstairs. Very common in this area. A couple of years ago the lady in the shop told me her bills looked wrong. How much can four lights and a till consume? We read the meter, and yes the numbers were all wrong. Something looked familar, so I popped upstairs and looked at the meter for the flat. Bingo! Somehow the supplier had been using the meter reading for the flat for the shop's consumption, and vis versa. Good god, that took an effort to fix. They were threatening to take the shop lady to court for the flat's consumption, we kept phoning insisting they send an engineer to read the meters in our presense, they never kept appointments, I eventually took over the account and terminated it, using my savings to clear the bill to allow the termination to go ahead. The new supplier insisted on a new meter - we bit their hand off, as that results in a physical presense of an engineer with recorded meter readings. Phew, 18 months, new supplier, new meter, documented meter-removal readings submitted to old supplier, eventual refund.

    3. imanidiot Silver badge

      You're certainly not the first to get caught by that. First of energy companies are notorious for bureaucracy and on top of that it's even worse for the big ones. Then there's the incentive of all that extra cash they get to keep from people who get tired of "fighting windmills" and neven actually get a refund. It seems your experience with "Gluon" is par for the course of any move. Especially when back in those days you couldn't just up and go to a different energy provider.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        What a silly conspiracy theory you've come up with there. The incident as described was at best revenue neutral for the energy supplier, since they didn't bill the actual occupant of the apartment. In fact, it turned out a loser for them, since they almost certainly couldn't back-bill once their error got sorted out.

        The reality is that energy suppliers are absolutely dreadful at billing, and routinely make ridiculous errors. Cockup, not conspiracy. You only ever hear about the times they over-charge, because no-one ever complains about being undercharged. I have in fact just had a refund of three years of electricity bills - for power that I actually used - because the energy company screwed up the billing so badly they had to admit they had never sent me a valid bill, and were out of time to back-bill for it.

        1. Flightmode

          You're assuming they paid me back för the period they double-billed me? I can't remember what their exact reasoning was, but probably a combination of "you should have discovered this sooner" and "well the owners of the house refuse to pay us and we can't be expected to give people free electricity or admit we're at fault", distilled into the classic Dutch phrase "'Snotpossible.". Never saw a knaak back from them.

        2. heyrick Silver badge

          "energy suppliers are absolutely dreadful at billing"

          I have a Linky smart meter (pretty much no choice about getting that, Enedis pushed them onto everybody). It sends my consumption at around midnight every day (I refused the option to talk to the mothership more frequently). Every two months they send me a bill. On paper. For some peculiar reason an electricity bill doubles up as proof of residence, and as a foreigner I keep my last so many bills in case anybody should ask "was I here" and want the bills instead of something logical like my timesheets from work. Once I have the bill, I can use their app (or website) to log in and pay it with my bank card.

          I don't use Direct Debit as they still apparently debit "estimated consumption" amounts, which is a bit bullshit when they have meters giving precise amounts.

          "You only ever hear about the times they over-charge"

          Given that it is financially useful to them to overcharge (even if they have to offer refunds or credits, I'd bet the accumulated interest on the overcharging of a few million clients is absolutely non negligible), I wouldn't be surprised if there were orders of magnitude more overcharging than undercharging.

          "and routinely make ridiculous errors"

          I don't know about other countries, but here there's "a smart meter" (the infamous Linky). I could sign up with a different supplier for another tariff, the meter still works as Enedis handles that and passes the amounts on to the supplier. The technology is in place to efficiently and accurately bill people. It's just the fifty billion yoghurt weavers getting in the way and cocking everything up.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            As an employee of (reasonably successful, so that narrows it down significantly) entech challenger, these stories make me chortle. It's so easy taking the big 6's lunch, as they are so bad at customer management.

            1. imanidiot Silver badge

              And yet every single newcomer to the market (at least in the Netherlands) seems to usually be even worse than the big 6 in terms of billing errors and customer service. Not to mention all of them falling over the moment the energy prices went up.

          2. Killfalcon Silver badge

            "yoghurt weavers"

            Never heard that one before. Evocative.

          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "I don't use Direct Debit as they still apparently debit "estimated consumption" amounts, which is a bit bullshit when they have meters giving precise amounts."

            The other issue could be a massively wrong billing where they empty your account. If you budget yourself with the expectation of a fairly steady bill month after month, as usual, suddenly winding up with a negative balance is problematic. If you have no choice, it's best to have a bank account that is disconnected from any other account and is used only for regular automated payments. I do this and also set my mom up with this as well. Her life savings is in an account that can't be electronically accessed. Each month she goes to the bank and moves money into her payments checking account by withdrawing cash and immediately depositing it in the other account. It's sort of funny since she never leaves the teller's window, but it's all part of the process.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Cockup, not conspiracy."

          Ah, Hanlon's razor. "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." True far more often than not.

    4. Potty Professor

      Disconnection Fee

      I was with Virgin for my broadband and landline since before they were Virgin, ie I actually signed up to NTL World. About six years ago, I had to sell my house to clear the mortgage, and asked Virgin to transfer my account to my new, rented, accommodation. Virgin replied that they couldn't do that as they had no cable coverage in the area (four miles south of Oswestry), and I would have to leave them and go back to BT.

      There would, of course, be a £30 "Disconnection Fee". I replied that I was not asking them to disconnect me, in fact quite the reverse, they wanted to terminate my account after my asking them to move the connection, not to disconnect it. I therefor asked them to pay me the £30 Disconnection Fee, which they declined to do, but they did waive my bill.

      (I also asked them if they could use "Local Loop Unbundling" and install their cables in the BT box just up the road, but they replied that they did not install their kit in other carriers; boxes)

    5. MOH

      Ireland is no better. When I bought a house I had problems switching over from my rented apartment with every service provider - except the cable TV with NTL (now Virgin and no better). One phone call confirming my account details and my new address and it was sorted.

      Woke up one morning about four months later to find I suddenly had no TV. Rang them to find they had no record of me or any account at the new or the old address, either by name, address, or phone number. They wanted my old account number but I'd shredded all the NTL stuff since it was supposedly sorted

      They eventually said all they could do would be set me up under a new account - with a 50 quid connection fee. I hung up and had a Sky dish installed the next week.

      To top it off they then sent me a letter threatening legal action if I didn't return the set top box which I'd never had, for the account they said didn't exist. Got a fairly apologetic reply after a complaint addressed to the CEO.

      The johe us if they hadn't been so incompetent I would have been happy to pay them the four months I obviously hadn't been billed for.

    6. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "The electricity company was far from the only one that messed things up."

      It would seem that at least in the Netherlands the best thing to do when moving is to start brand new service rather than 'switching' service from your previous address. It just confuses them to do that.

  6. Tim 11

    I've been a beneficiary of a similar process. I got made redundant when my company was acquired in 2001 and the new owners said I could keep my old Nokia 6310. However in spite of my frequent requests they didn't cancel the contract for another 18 months so I had it for free.

    Still, since they managed to piss $500m of investors money up the wall by failing to deliver anything before they eventually went bust, I guess a few hundred quid was a drop in the ocean

    1. wyatt

      I loved my 6310, it did calls and was enough for me.

      1. Sam not the Viking

        Nokia 6310

        I was asked by a colleague to assist when he received a contractual letter from his phone-supplier. He had a Nokia 6310. The only contact he could make was by phoning their help-line. Unfortunately, he was deaf and he could see how this was going to pan out. So I phoned up, using his phone and after going through multiple 'security checks' I was able to discuss the issue on his behalf. When I explained that the actual owner of the phone was deaf they were dumbfounded:

        "Why does he have a phone then?"

        "Er... Text messaging?"

        "Oh! Of course! Well we'll reduce his contract price, then." Really not the outcome we were expecting.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nokia 6310

          My dad's going deaf - he can hold conversations with his hearing aids in, but can't use the phone at all. All the line noise gets picked up by the aids and it's just a wash of noise for him.

          Unless it's his mobile - bluetooth directly to earbuds works a treat. AC because he doesn't want it made public, since he hates phone calls and loves the excuse!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Nokia 6310

            My father-in-law has the bluetooth-to-earbud system. It's great.

            Years ago, I was at my grandparents' house, sitting at the table with my grandfather. My grandmother (his wife) came in, said something to him, he nodded, she said something else, he nodded, and she stepped out. Someone else came in and started to speak to him, at which point he held up his index finger ("one moment") and turned his hearing aid back on...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Nokia 6310

            My dad's going deaf, and he refuses to put his hearing aids in, but still gets annoyed when he doesn't here what people are saying.

          3. nonpc

            Re: Nokia 6310

            I went into my elderly parents' house and found my father outside the (closed) kitchen door with the telephone to his ear, apparently talking to my mother who was the other side of the door. I thought that they had finally lost it, but they explained that they were using the intercom function on the DECT handsets to test the hearing aid mode for my hard-of-hearing father...

            In a similar vein, my wife said to me 'You haven't listened to a word I said!'. 'That's a funny way to start a conversation' I said...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in the day

    I worked for a telco which had seized on the idea of letting people WFH as a way to cut costs; you got a small monthly stipend to cover the energy bills, and a dedicated ADSL connection on it's own line.

    And that worked quite well, until I left the company. And then it continued to work quite well, for several years after. Though having moved to Virgin's much faster cable network for my personal internet connection, I viewed this as more of an amusing novelty than anything else.

    For all I know - having moved out of the house several years ago - said socket is still active...

    1. TonyJ

      Re: Back in the day

      I left a company that never sent me a box for their kit, including a Vodafone USB dongle.

      It all got boxed up and put in the loft. When I rediscovered it all some years later, and after the original company had been sold at least twice, out of interest I plugged the dongle in and got a 4G connection!

      1. mtp

        Re: Back in the day

        I still have a box of virgin media kit awaiting collection from when I cancelled back in Jan 2022. It even includes a pretty good virgin media locked tivo box.

        I have tried several times to get rid of it but there is no way to contact them and every attempt just ends up with them sending me a survey asking for a 1-10 score on how well the close of contract process went.

        Answer is very badly. When I tried to cancel they kept finding dodgy reasons why they could not start the cancellation process or a few more days which would have pushed me into a extra month of billing just after hugh price rise. Eventually I got them to cancel before this date but by the end their excuses were getting increasingly desperate.

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Back in the day

          I've still got several generations of cable TV box going back to my first Yorkshire Cable "Scientific Atlanta 8600" set-top box + remotes piling up in my loft. Yorkshire Cable, TeleWest, NTL, Virgin. It's feels "wrong" to chuck them away, but there's nothing I can use them for.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Back in the day

            "It's feels "wrong" to chuck them away, but there's nothing I can use them for."

            Every once in a while I come across an estate sale were there is a box of those old cable modems. Most of them have the power supply as a separate module internally as it's cheaper to buy them that way with all of the approval already done. I tear those boxes up and pull out the power supplies and other useful parts I find. The newer boxes generally have a wallwart or linelump which are handy to have as well. I hate just chucking things to but sometimes with all of the custom marked components there is no way to reuse anything. I have a 32" CRT TV that's headed for the tip this weekend. It takes up way too much room, doesn't have HDMI connections and I had to bodge together the flyback transformer circuit when it broke the PCB so it's rather delicate. The TV works, but I'd hate to even give it away as one wrong move and it will not work with darn few people around that could fix it.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Back in the day

          "When I tried to cancel they kept finding dodgy reasons why they could not start the cancellation process or a few more days which would have pushed me into a extra month of billing just after hugh price rise. "

          They checked your account and could see you were on auto-payment. If they were sending you a bill where you needed to send in a payment or pay online, things might have been different since you could just not pay the bill for which they would eventually cancel your account. You'd told them you don't need their service anymore so at that point they lose any hold over you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Back in the day

      NTL got BT to install an ISDN line into my house when I worked for them, over the years there, they made all the people who know the details of their agreement with BT redundant.

      So, even before I left NTL (who by then, had changed into VirginMedia) they couldn't get the ISDN uninstalled by BT, and BT would not even talk to me about it, as I was not the entity that had ordered the install in the first place. I once again went through the loop of trying to get VirginMedia to arrange it to be disconnected after I left VM, with no luck.

      Eventully I took the plastic connection box off the wall and cut the wires. For all I know VM is still paying them for it.

  8. NITS

    Permanently Closed

    I recently had a ticket to update a wireless modem at a car rental office; call them $cps. Got to the site, a bit confused since the signage was down (mostly). Went inside, talked to the peeps. They said that $cps had closed up and moved out more than a year previously. The premises was now the rental office for the car dealership next door. $cps' network and phone equipment was still in place and active, and (presumably) being paid for.

    But wait, there's more!

    The agent told me that they still get $cps customers walking in their door, wanting to pick up the rental car that they had recently reserved. Even though $cps had folded up and moved out of the office a year previously, at least some part of their reservation system still thought that the site was active, not Permanently Closed.

  9. mtp

    Vital change of payment hidden in the small print

    I was renting and at the time had paper electricity bills that came quarterly which I always paid on the time. After few years I received a red bordered final demand saying that the bailifs are due imminently. When I contacted them they said that I had not paid 2 bills in a row and looking back at my records I discovered that they are right and this was because I had not received any bills.

    It turns out that in the small print of my last posted bill they said that they were switching me to a online account and this would be my final paper bill but I had only read the bill part of this and paid it without even looked at the next page full of text. They eventually admitted that I had never logged into the account, this final demand was not preceeded by any postal communication and they had not made it clear that they had decided to stop posting me bills and that I had not agreed to this change.

    I was very stressed as I was just in the process of buying my first house so if this had landed on my credit score I would have been ruined.

  10. Martin an gof Silver badge

    BT & moving house

    Probably told this tale before, but when we were moving house some years back, our buyer - who was a bit of a pain - obviously telephoned BT to inform them that they were going to take over the line and would like the number changed.

    Three or four weeks before the moving date - and at the point where everything begins to move fast and you absolutely need to have good communications with estate agents, banks, utility companies, movers etc. - BT cut our line off. Not just a changed number; completely dead. No amount of calls to BT could get them to re-instate the line and even after the ombudsman was involved, all we got was a refund of our last month's line rental.

    ADSL stayed up for three or four days before "someone" noticed the lack of a line and Demon Internet ceased to exist as far as my computers were concerned, meaning that there was a whole different bunch of companies and people to inform (somehow) that not only was the telephone number they had now invalid, but the email address ( was invalid too.

    Some years later we carried out some major building work at the house we had moved into. Fortunately for us we found a rental property in the same street but no way was I tempted to "move" the phone line and then move it back later. Nope, I kept some kit in the house connected to "our" phone line during the building work, used a point-to-point radio link for the internet access and DECT phones for telephone (just about enough range). Worked a charm, and so much easier to put back once the building work was complete.

    Had a nightmare with the electricity but that's another story (gas and water were just fine), and we are still finding address databases which do not include our address because for a short period our house was de-registered for Council Tax. Definitely wouldn't do that again. Firstly it has been annoyingly inconvenient at times, secondly it only saved a few hundred pounds and thirdly, upon re-registering, the property is revalued for Council Tax (as if it had been sold) and because we'd added a couple of bedrooms we jumped up a couple of bands. Within three years (IIRC) the money we saved by de-registering was paid back in higher ongoing tax bills.

    Never moving again.


  11. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

    A bit odd

    "You can imagine how successful Ethan was in getting either provider to cough up a refund."

    That seems rather strange, unless the purchaser was at fault in some way. It's not peanuts, it's $30k. If customer services can't help - and you wouldn't really expect them to be able to - you employ a lawyer, and sue if necessary.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: A bit odd

      The IT group's view into what happens with a dispute probably ends once it reaches the lawyers. So if management thought it was a carrier screwup it may have been handed off to the lawyers, and Ethan would never know how that turned out.

      If it was a screwup by Ethan's company in neglecting to cancel the old service they should be forced to eat the loss. i.e. if the author of the Reg article neglects to cancel his ISP at his old house after he moves into his new one, and doesn't notice he's getting payment deducted from his bank account for service in two locations, I think it would be ridiculous to expect that money be refunded when he finally notices even if his old house was unoccupied and no one was using the service.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: A bit odd

      " If customer services can't help - and you wouldn't really expect them to be able to - you employ a lawyer, and sue if necessary."

      Many times engaging an attorney cuts through all the BS and get you some action. The trick is finding one that will do the work at a reasonable price. They already know that all they'll often need to do is send a letter on their letterhead and the matter will be resolved but attorneys can often be extremely greedy. The matter has to be worth a ton for the other side to move their own legal team onto the battlefield. Many times there will be a bias in favor of the little guy and the costs go up exponentially when a case is filed.

  12. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    "Ended up paying for a service never cancelled"

    I remember when Who, Me? wasn't at the bottom of the barrel.

    Here's a freebie for next week -

    Welcome once again to the drivel we still call Who, Me? in which Register readers recount tales of tech gone wrong.

    This week's tale comes from a reader we'll Regomize as "Fuckwit". Fuckwit was a professional rack installer who had often wondered what would happen if one of those hefty racks were to fall on someone. After twiddling his thumbs in the DC one day Fuckwit tied a tow rope to the top of a rack, lay down on the floor, and gave it a mighty tug. "Ouch" reports Fuckwit but gave no details on the fate of the rack.

    Have you ever been a complete wanker? Tell us all about it in an email to Who, Me? and we'll share your tale with the world. ®

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: "Ended up paying for a service never cancelled"

      Am torn on how to respond to this - found your comment funny and possibly fair but also tend to enjoy this column (quite often more for the comments it attracts).

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: "Ended up paying for a service never cancelled"

        Watch the tale of Fuckwit turn up on a Monday in six months time.

    2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: "Ended up paying for a service never cancelled"

      "I remember when Who, Me? wasn't at the bottom of the barrel."

      They depend on reader submissions. Maybe it's us who have reached the bottom. The stories could be more entertaining if fabricated, would you approve of ChatGPT assistance?

  13. Kev99 Silver badge

    This reminds me of Spectrum/Charter. We cancelled their TV service on the 10th, but they kept the money for the period from the 11th to the 31st.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I had to put in a Better Business Bureau complaint to get Spectrum to stop mailing us advertisements - after telling them repeatedly to stop for six months. Apparently their standard process is that you tell them to stop - using the name the mailing is addressed to - wait 2 months for them to stop mailing to that name and simply switch to a different name at the same address, tell them to stop for that name, and repeat until they run out of names. Because they don't want to miss any "marketing opportunities". (Seriously, that's what the ombudsman who handled the complaint told me, while admitting it was ridiculous.)

      They missed a sales opportunity, all right; if they offered me a year's free service with no strings attached I'd tell them to buzz off! (Or hook it up and figure out how to run a year-long speed test..)

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "stop mailing to that name and simply switch to a different name at the same address"

        Return one of the letters marked "building no longer present" or something to that effect. Maybe somebody will notice. Even "property vacant" might have them remove it from their marketing list (often subbed out to another company they've "shared" your information with). You could wind up getting removed from several marketing campaigns.

    2. PRR Bronze badge

      > This reminds me of Spectrum/Charter. We cancelled their TV service on the 10th, but they kept the money for the period from the 11th to the 31st.

      This is well known, written in their fine print (not as clearly as you state it). Occasionally it rises through a PUC to a state Attorney-General. Sometimes they even promise to make it right. It is a repeating story.

      BTW, Compuserve did exactly the same thing. Sometimes rounding-up an extra month. Look how well they did.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "This reminds me of Spectrum/Charter. We cancelled their TV service on the 10th, but they kept the money for the period from the 11th to the 31st."

      If it's in your contract that there are no refunds in those cases, that's how it rolls. You pay for service in monthly increments and that's it. You could fight that, but chances are that the fight will be far more costly than what you'd get back.

  14. MiguelC Silver badge

    Netflix just uncancels cancellations

    Friday a colleague was recounting of his experience cancelling his Netflix account (no more sharing, no more account *) the previous day but Netflix went on and charged him anyway. Their helpdesk then explained his cancellation had been automatically rescinded, probably just because someone had connected to the account after that. He was instructed to resubmit his cancellation request and change the account password to guarantee no one would connect again!

    * If you want just one account for yourself, you'll be limited to 720p viewing, as their plans only provide FHD and 4K if you pay for 2 and 4 users, respectively - just weird.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Netflix just uncancels cancellations

      "Their helpdesk then explained his cancellation had been automatically rescinded"

      The joys of auto-pay. If they had to bill you, the cancellation would not have been rescinded.

  15. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Stories, stories, stories

    It is not just IT. I worked near the gentleman who managed the physical estate for the company. We had stand-alone water coolers with large plastic bottles of water delivered to be placed, upside down in them for the benefit of the staff. All well and good, you may think. However, and this is the important point, the company only has to provide by law a 'potable" (i.e., drinkable) water supply, which was the rising main and taps in kitchen areas and toilets. The water coolers and water bottles were provided by management on their budgets, not the company as a whole.

    So everything is going nicely when some bright spark (i.e., a 'manager') decides that well, paying for all this special water is expensive when you can get the same stuff out of a tap, so decided to get rid of the water coolers.

    My friend, was then inundates with calls that the company was taking their fresh water supply away, and how DARE he? Well, he would point out, several times a week that there was fresh water in the taps, that he wasn't responsible for the water coolers and would PEOPLE PLEASE STOP SHOUTING AT HIM FOR SOMETHING HE WASN'T RESPONSIBLE FOR! (I always kept my head down during these conversations.)

    Anyway, one of the aforementioned 'bright sparks' had forgotten to inform the water company to stop. So a month or so after the coolers were disposed of, a truck turns up with literally a ton of water and could they have the empties back, please?

    Consternation. Oh and yes, the water cooler machines didn't belong to our company, they belonged to the water company and they'd like them back too as they are not cheap.

    Why can you only use one d'Oh icon at a time?

  16. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Moving 'nest'

    I don't think you need worry, Mr. Matthew, just casually drop into the conversation that you work at 'The Register', and they'll give a you a service as good as any. It will be as if BBC Radio 4's 'Moneybox Live' is broadcasting a live stream of your move in real time.

    Now, if you can just sort out the 'transfer' of TNT into FedEx and get the passport re-delivery booking web page not to hang when I enter the details (I was out) that would be really good.*

    *(Actually I solved this by trying to contact the TNT depot, completing a complaint form, at which point I was presented with a web page which accepted my complaint and said that if it was urgent, phone their number (not previously displayed), which I did, and got the thing delivered the next day. I'm just getting the stress off my chest.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Moving 'nest'

      I can only hope that, when you say TNT, you're not talking about trinitrotoluene.

  17. Tom 38

    Not really tech related

    More in the column of "moving things, people fuck up" - when I was 18, two things happened - I got a job in the local big town, testing Fison's lawn fertilizer as it came off the factory, and my Dad decided I no longer needed an allowance. Since I was now in the big town and not the small town, I moved my bank account from Lloyds in the small town to Lloyds in the big town. Five months passed, and I didn't have the funds I was hoping to build up to a big summer holiday before university, so I checked through my bank statements a bit more closely.

    When they moved me from small branch to big branch, they'd reversed the standing order my Dad had set up to pay me £30/month pocket money to pay him £30 a month pocket money. They apologised, paid me back £150 plus some extra for charges, so it ended up being closer to £200. They told my Dad they were going to take £150 from his account though, and he told them to get lost, which I think eventually they did!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a PRI that's no longer needed. Our accounting/purchasing dept can't find the bill so they can issue the disconnect request. US$ 800/month going on for about a year.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. An_Old_Dog Silver badge


    I did software installations and OS+hardware support for a vendor of medical office billing systems back in the 1990s. One tight-fisted client refused to pay to have a phone line and modem for remote support installed, despite the long distance between our office and his, and despite it being written in the support contract that refusal to have remote-access capability would result in any unscheduled service calls (vs routine maintenance) billed at 2X the standard rate, with a four-hour minimum charge + mileage. After I made six round trips of 960km, and spent a total of less than one real-time hour fixing things (but billed at a total of 24 hours), his wife finally talked him into installing a phone line and modem.

    He also, for reasons of false economy, had an old rackmount PDP-11 system connected to two VT-52s and a VT-100, so his clients could complete various psychological surveys. The guy he had doing his hardware support for the -11 also had to make that 960km round trip, about once a month. Yay for preserving and running that fabulous old hardware, but between the power bills for the -11 and the hardware maintenance costs, it had to be a money-loser ...

  20. dave 76

    beware energy company mergers

    I sold my flat in the UK, closed off all the utilities and was happy that all was good before moving to another country on the other side of the world.

    About 9 months later I started getting emails from an energy supplier that I have never used that I owed them thousands and they would be starting legal proceedings.

    I called them and after going through multiple people found out that my original supplier had been sold to this new company and all the accounts transferred over, including it seems accounts that had already been closed. So they had done a meter reading and billed me for usage on an meter that they were not supplying. They were also sending the paper bills to that flat so of course I was not getting them.

    I got assurances that it was now sorted and there was nothing I needed to do.

    Another 6 months and the emails started again, seems they still had not sorted it out. After more conversations they wanted me to log into my online account to sort this out. I told them there was no way I was going to create an online account for a supplier I didn't use, on a flat I didn't own. That seemed to me to be a way of them trying to sneakily accept that I was receiving the bills and be liable for them.

    Eventually after many more weeks and calls I managed to get them to acknowledge (using the final bill from the previous supplier and the email from my lawyer saying that the sale had been completed) that I had never been their customer and that was the end of it but it was a stressful time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: beware energy company mergers

      Youngest started getting text messages from a company of bailiffs wanting payment of a particular bill. Ignored them for a bit, but they got more and more threatening so eventually I telephoned the company, gave them a severe ear-bashing and was told that they couldn't take the telephone number off their records because I couldn't prove I was the person the record belonged to!

      Of course I wasn't!!! Dimwits.

      They weren't even concerned about the fact they were sending threatening messages to a child.

      Presumably someone, somewhere (no idea where but suspect Manchester/Liverpool because that's where the bailiffs were based) actually did owe some money but the contact details were just wrong. Possibly intentionally wrong, possibly just fat fingers, possibly one of those cases of number re-use.

      Several texts and a couple of phone calls later the threatening texts stopped and I was reassured that the number had been removed from the records.

      A few weeks later they started again.

      After the third round of this and about two years after the texts started, youngest is getting very worried about texts saying things like "we're coming to your house this afternoon and will remove items".

      We changed the number - fortunately the phone provider allows a couple of changes for free - but we really shouldn't have had to.

    2. PRR Bronze badge

      Re: beware energy company mergers

      > I sold my flat in the UK, closed off all the utilities and was happy that all was good before moving to.....

      2009 I sold my house and moved away. I had Verizon DSL service but I swear we cancelled that along with the other utilities.

      2019 I started getting dunning emails from "Verizon Notification". Claimed "Total amount due: $64,159.91". I ignored it a while and it went to "$75,340.58". But I had only been paying $60/month, so the bill would be 7 grand, not 70 grand. Also some digging in the links in the email showed they did not terminate in a Verizon site but hall-of-mirrors redirected elsewhere. (Verizon had internal redirection servers which would forward a surfer to arbitrary destinations.)

      At the time I was living debt-free and frankly did not care.

      This year I financed a $40K car, loan officer said I was all good, like I was the best bet all week. I ran my own credit checks, there's nothing about many-kilo-bucks owed to Verizon. So some kinda phish/fraud?

      1. Killfalcon Silver badge

        Re: beware energy company mergers

        Almost certainly. Chances are that "Verizon Notification"'s email address was something like "".

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: beware energy company mergers

          "Chances are that "Verizon Notification"'s email address was something like ""."

          More likely it will be a gmail account. That's the go to company that scammers use for email addresses. This is why I counsel customers and family/friends that a gmail account isn't a good idea for anything other than a backup. There's so much spam and so many scams that I don't trust anything coming from a gmail account. I just posted some stuff of sale on Craigslist and within hours had people trying to scam me and asking I reply to their gmail account rather than going through the Craigslist email system.

  21. Fred Daggy Silver badge

    Epic fail

    The entity that I work for shutdown and it's operations were transferred 100km away. It also merged with another office (also closed). Only a few heads survived the "relocation".

    It was about a better "business" environment, but it was really about replacing most staff with junior (and cheaper) plus outsourcing. But the very good people left right away and good were left to train the replacements. Of course, very little by way of physical handover during Covid, but that might not have made the difference anyway. Cue 18 months later, turns out that rent is still being paid on location "B" and no one had terminated the lease. But of course, there is no one with the business knowledge left from that location. After the bad blood, no one that previously worked in location B (yes, it was referred to as the "B Ark" by our dept) will answer the phone.

    Lawyers have been told to sharpen their swords, but they won't probably find any heads to cut nor even cases to argue as there is no documentary evidence.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same type of issue that I've had recently

    I moved house last year and it was no issue with all the utility firms except one....which is my ISP.

    I contacted them to tell them about my moving date and I requested that they transfer my account to my new house.

    The customer service advisor seemingly dealt with my request BUT a new account was set up, rather than trasnferring the existing account.

    And you guessed it; they continued to take payments from my bank by DIrect Debit for the previous address, even though I did not live there any more (and I was not accessing their service).

    The ISP is SSE Broadband**, who were in the midst of being sold to OVO, who have since decided to sell the business to TalkTalk.

    And I am still waiting for a refund for the illegally removed funds, taken by Direct Debit...the Ombudsman is now involved as SSE/OVO/TalkTalk are disputing the invoices and bank statements that I've provided in my evidence.

    ** I am naming them not for malicious purposes but more as a warning to viewers to cancel any direct debits as soon as the last payment has been made...I didn't do this, even though in theory I shouldn't have had to.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Same type of issue that I've had recently

      Talk Talk (well, you did mention them) was being used by our ISP as only they and Openreach were available at our exchange.

      TT have now "withdrawn" from our exchange (I didn't know that was even a thing - I've no idea why they needed to do that) so our line had to be migrated back to OR. Our ISP was pretty good about the process, but the first bill after the change was a bit of a mess, with some double-charging (refunded as soon as I'd pointed it out) and they sent me a new modem/router which really wasn't necessary and still (after a couple of reminders) haven't told me how to return it. They still give me my £1 discount for self-provided router though :-)


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I had the opposite problem.

    The company I worked for (about 30 employees and a room full of servers) was moving to a new site. We had leased line internet from BT. Around that time, we had an offer from a rival supplier that would give us more bandwidth for less money. It seemed like a no-brainer, so it was decided that we would have the new service put into the new building and terminate the existing BT service when we moved out. Should be straightforward enough.

    Things got busy as we prepared for the move. We had to install a lot of cat5 and power outlets, redecorate, new furniture etc. About three weeks before we were due to move it occurred to me that I hadn't seen anybody turn up at the new site to install the new internet line, or even to survey it. I called up the new supplier to find out what was going on and they said "Oh, we decided to push that back by three months". AYFKM? We're moving into the new building in three weeks and we won't have any internet or phone connection! And they hadn't made any effort to even inform me of a problem. To make things worse, despite escalating the problem through every layer of their management, it was impossible to find anybody who actually gave a shit.

    Fortunately after some frantic phone calls, BT agreed not to cancel our service and were even able to switch it to an existing unused line in the new building over the weekend of the move. So in the end we didn't lose out. Unfortunately the name of the other supplier has faded from my memory, so I can't call them out for being such useless assholes.

  24. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Not a work related cost, although I was out with some friends who I worked with..

    We used to go out and get drunk most fridays. Feeling hungry, we moved to a bar that had a rather awesome restaurant with a dance floor out the back. It did good food.. At some point five of us sat down and ordered food (it was a full service restaurant with waiters). Having eaten our meals, we stayed in this bar until about 4am, and went home. I woke up the next morning feeling a little rough, and after getting a drink, brushing my teeth and feeling something approaching human, I picked up my wallet. A credit card receipt fell out. It was for nearly £120. Bear in mind this was nearly 20 years ago, and this wasn't a central london (or particularly posh) restaurant.

    I mentioned it to my friend when I saw him. He apologised. Apparently the 4 people I was eating with (he wasn't one, but his cousin was) vanished when the bill came, and because I was drunk, I just paid for it. In fairness, he paid me back half, which more than covered what his cousin ate. I never got the money back from the others..

    1. Killfalcon Silver badge

      Less than £20 each... even that far back that sounds reasonable for seven people. Still a heck of a shock to pay it all yourself, mind!

      I usually ended up budgeting £20 for tips at stuff like that. Always seems like no-one else thinks they might go back to the same place one day.

  25. Daedalus

    Catch 22-fer

    Similar story from Reddit: Severely incompetent client of industrial equipment installer orders and signs for an ISDN line without checking to see if it actually was installed. It was not, at least not at the client. The clueless telecom tech inexplicably did the job at a random building somewhere else in town. Inquiries by the equipment installer were stonewalled. Which building got the line? Sorry, client confidential. Well disconnect it! Nope, against company policy to enter a building without a contract.

    Second line was correctly installed, leaving incompetent client on the hook for both lines. But installer was happy, at least as happy as you can be with such a client.

  26. Colin Bain

    Bell end

    In my admin role I seem to stumble across odds and ends. My attention was attracted to a Bell bill for a location that did not exist and had been closed for 4 years. Despite having no telephone connection we were still paying for the privilege of several email accounts, long abandoned.

    I ensured that Bell no longer serviced that location and ensured that new locations had voip installed with an independent company and transferred as many others as possible. One memorable conversation included the tag line that they were number one in customer service. Without an ounce of self.awareness.

    (Not in UK obviously)

    I have other stories!

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