Airtricity: how to lose business in under 10 minutes

Here’s the complaint note I sent Airtricity this morning. It highlights a wider issue I have regularly encountered with services companies, the crux of my complaint being the following: if you want to steal the customers, steal the history and honour it too. Why is it so hard to respect the customer profile?

I’ve been paying my electricity bills in full by direct debit for 11 years now. I do not need to be robbed of 200 euro when funds are tight, just in case I decide to run off with the crown jewels this time and not pay my bills. I have paid my dues, paid deposits, proven myself over more than a decade with your main competitor – surely I’m the golden catch when it comes to low hanging fruit customer stealing?

Well tough luck, on one side I was being relieved of 200 euro and on the other I was being given a discount for staying so guess which one I picked…. Some companies (not only Airtricity I must add, many services companies apply the same rules) are still working under “Celtic Tiger” misapprehensions. How about a bit of common sense now?

“To whom this may concern,

I have just moved to a new property and was happy to switch from ESB to Airtricity. I went through the entire process of the switch on the phone, only to be told casually at the last minute that there would be a 200 euro deposit required to set-up my direct debit as I’m a first time customer. Of Airtricity perhaps. But I’ve been on a direct debit with the ESB for 11 years… So Airtricity is happy to take customers from other providers (and cooperate on the switch), but not to respect their history? I am currently not in a position to fork out 200 euro to anyone (the fact that it is handed back to me in a year’s time is of absolutely no help to me right now) so you have lost my business and this account – and the support of many friends and family who all agree this is opportunistic and wrong.

A very unimpressed “customer” of the 10 minutes I wasted on the phone with you this morning.”

October 8 update:

No acknowledgement of my email has been received so far. I did get an account balance close by email last week informing me of my balance of 0.00 euro owed to Airtricity for the 10 minutes I was a customer… then this morning, I got this little beauty in the post, proving that customer relationship management is still alive and well in 2012… As if last week never happened.

Airtricity cancellation

Airtricity cancellation

October 10 update:

I received an email from the Airtricity customer services team acknowledging that not informing me of the deposit upfront and wasting my time was not the ideal way to handle things. They however maintained their stance on the deposit, blaming the amount of debt from unpaid tenant accounts for this measure and saying there is no way to find out the customer’s credit history when it comes to electricity. I have replied, suggesting that if phone companies can do it by looking at your bills or at bank statements, then services companies should also be able to do it… I have also suggested that holding that amount of money for so long was unfair and unnecessary. Watch this space.


About monicaheck
Monica Heck is a bilingual freelance writer and journalist based in Dublin, Ireland.

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