Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Wow, am I just a little bit cross! Our gas bill came today and to my delight it was in credit by £83.41. What's to be cross about? At the bottom of the page they tell me they are DOUBLING my Direct Debit payments.


For those in other countries who don't know how we do these things in England: our utilities bills (gas, electric, phone) come out every 3 months (each quarter) and most of us pay a regular amount monthly by Direct Debit from our bank to theirs. Now the way this used to work was that any shortfall over the winter payments would even itself out during the summer months when we use less fuel. Your payments were reviewed annually to see if you were paying enough.


Not now though. It's getting to be every time they send a bill they demand some more but do they read the meter? They do not. We get our gas and electric from the same supplier and I know for sure our electric meter is read most quarters. I know because I have to let the man in. He reads the gas metre at the same time, so he says, which is on the outside wall. Huh They rarely use the reading; it's always 'estimated'. Do you know, the only people who have right of access to your home are...............meter readers! Even the police have to get a warrant.


The bank sent me a letter to say I was £25 beyond my agreed overdraft so they would take an extra £35 off me (next time there was some in there, presumably). Next day they sent me another letter askng if I would like a loan of £20,000! For goodness' sake!


When we were kids absolutely everybody used to pay for their gas with a slot-meter. You had to put sixpences and shillings in and turn the knob and there your gas would be.. We're talking old money here of course. How mimuther used to look forward to gasman day. She used to plan her life around that. He would empty the meter and we would all stand round the kitchen table while he counted it and handed back any overpayment. There always was some, the meters were set that way. The instant he was gone it was "Shall I feed the telly mam?" "Shall I fetch some doughnuts mam?" "Dad hasn't gev us any pocket money (we only got sixpence) for x weeks mam." Nobody, mimuther included, ever thought to stick it back in the gas meter! There was a lot of carry-on, I remember, if the gas went while there was a cake or Yorkshire Puddings in the oven and we were all scrambling about loking for a tanner (sixpence) or a bob (shilling).


In those days, too, dad used to be able to mend anything. Most dads did. Many's the Thursday teatime in the early '60's when our dad would be missing his fry-up tea because he had a screwdriver stuckin the back of the telly trying to get it going because Dr. Who was on (it was a different show in those days, fit for kids).


Dad never paid garage fees either, he fixed the car himself. If he was nowhere to be found you would always find him - a pair of boots stickng out from under whatever old jalopy we had at the time. He'd be either mending the car or hiding from Pat up the road who could talk the back legs off a donkey!


Funny old entry this, isn't it? Good to have a rant though.

8 comments:

Saltydawg said...

I think we pay in advance so they can get interest on the money. As for slot meters, OMG! I remember those too!
Gaz :-)

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

We do something similar here and have what they call budget payments. I pay the same every month and then once a year they balance it all and see if you're ahead or behind. I usually wind up with a credit. I remember the days of my hubby being able to fix things. Now a days you have to have a specialist fix things it seems as electronics and computers run everythng. It's unusually cold here so my gas budget will be going up I suppose. 'On Ya'-ma

LYN said...

I REMEMBER THE METER UNDER THE STAIRS..IT WAS ALWAYS FUNNY TO ME THAT WE LET THIS MAN COME IN AND CLIMB UNDR OUR STAIRS AND READ IT...lol

YOU WOULDN'T LIKE THE SYSTEM OVER HERE..ELECTRIC AND PHONE BILL EVERY MONTH AND THEY ARE WAY HIGHER THAN IN UK...

Ben said...

Sounds like the escrow on a mortgage; I think it's just something the banks make up for their own amusement. There is some comfort in knowing that even across oceans, people can be united by the universal thread of something all humans share: being shafted by large institutions.

Ben
http://ben-better_left_unsaid.blogspot.com/

Joan said...

Lovely entry it's strange we start to write an entry and we drift from one thing to the nest its great. I remember we I was a child it was a penny in the meter (was born in 42. Love Joan.

Marie said...

I do love reading your entries and getting a little peek into how things used to be over here. I have never experienced any of this, although when I first came over Todd had a rented telly and also we had to stick money in a box to watch it. I thought that was really weird! I do have friends that pay for their electric by using a card. Thankfully where we are now, my boss pays for all of that so we don't have to worry. Yes, we are blessed. I don't know how some people are going to cope this winter with all the fuel increases! It's criminal!

Jan said...

Oh you took me back there Angie ,gosh the pay out when the meter man !came nearly as exciting as the co op divi time lol ...love Jan xx

Raquel said...

Oh Angie! You tell the bestest stories! When I was growing up, you paid your bill. Plain and simple. A lot of people here go on level payments and it equals out pretty good. My Dad could fix anything (still can fix somethings). We never had our car in the garage and around the house he could do it all. My Honey is very handy that way, too, he put in a phone downstairs for us and is building another room down there. Much love, Raquel XO