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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Bat Out of Hell

You know how it is. A letter comes through the post which gives you no clue about  its contents. Just your name and address and a return address on the back.

Last week, this "official" letter arrived and I thought I knew what it contained. It reminded me of a letter I had received about 6 months ago saying I'd won £50 in a Premium Bond draw.

Confidently, holding the letter in my hand I shouted "Another Jackpot", sure that I'd again come up trumps. On opening I was greatly disappointed. It was my tax disc.

I thought that it was a reasonable mistake to make. I'd only just renewed my car tax on line a day or two before and they said it would take up to five days. Of course, since it was a public service I ignored the "up to" and added "or more" to the five days.

Isn't it ironic that I was disappointed that a public service delivered on time!

Anyway, that's a distraction. Today this white window  envelope arrived. Red franked stamp, post marked "Romford" and nothing else. I don't know about you but such letters fill me with fear and expectation at the same time. Conflicting emotions froze me and I placed the letter on the table thinking what it might be.

If it's an official communication why shouldn't they want to alert me with a logo or slogan? It might be personal, a letter from a lawyer; informing of a large legacy. Or ordering me to appear in court!

A rip opened it and out fell an Invoice and an "Engineer Activity Report". The Invoice was headed ADT. It's frightening how slow your mind can be at times. The house is burning down. How long to register that life threatening situation?

It took me what seemed an age to register that ADT were our home security contractors - the burglary alarm people. It took a while more to focus on the remittance invoice and a sum of £29.38. 

The other sheet informed me that the engineer had spent 24 minutes labour time. Together with the 10 minutes travel time amounted to a cost of £25 plus VAT.

Now, after much scrambling I managed to reassemble the events leading up to this bill.

We have an annual contract with ADT. We pay them an annually increasing amount, currently £168 a year and for that they check that our house alarm works once a year. We do this because it gets us cheaper house insurance and we don't get burgled ( yet).

Recently they came round to do the annual check.

They said they'd arrive between 10 am and 1 pm and phoned about 20 minutes beforehand to say they were on the way. The engineer was lovely. We provided him with a parking permit ( a lief motif to our domestics) and he worked unhurriedly making sure that everything worked.

Our alarm system is quite old, OK, ancient. We had it installed in 1997 after we were burgled. It was that or, on the advice of a security expert,  having iron grills on  all the down stairs windows and a steel door. Anyway, our system is ancient and the fail safe system is equally primitive. 

The alarm system has a back up battery. This means that if the mains electricity fails for whatever reason the alarm remains active. Our battery was last replaced 5 years ago. Our lovely engineer explained that on the precautionary principle the company replaced the back up battery every 5 years. Apparently, there was a risk that after that time they wouldn't kick in as they should if the power failed.

Having explained this, he went on to say that since our system wasn't the newest he didn't carry the battery we'd need and he would have to order one. Once it had arrived he'd install it.

About a week later we had a call from an engineer saying he had the replacement battery and  made an appointment to fit it.A very jovial engineer arrived at the appointed time with the battery and, in a jiffy,  had it fitted and tested. And then with a wave and a smile he was gone.

And we thought no more of it until this unmarked letter arrived this morning.

What the fuck do we pay £168 quid a year for?  So they can come up with any excuse to get more money out of us? Bugger that.

I am so looking forward to drafting a  response to this insulting demand for monies.

It will flay the eye lids of the poor bastard who opens the letter post marked "Hades".


The Chick said...

You must post your response. I can't wait to hear it ! My advice, ditch ADT and get a big German Shephard. It works for me.

thedailyg said...

Yeah, I agree. German Shepherds - more cost, more benefit, more value for money. My family always had them and we were never burgled.

I guess I would suggest looking closely at ADT's small print with a view to finding anything untoward. Shame them, seem genuinely upset, and they may compensate you can promise to make the terms clearer in future. My mum was a big one for writing complaint letters and companies often do change policy in response.

Barry Coidan said...

Dear TC and tdg, much as we'd love a dog our 3 cats and other feline friends would up sticks and leave.

We'd also find it hard to accommodate a large Rover in such a small house - it's the size of the one shown on my blog page.

ADT took over the company that installed our alarm system. One day we discovered 2 ADT men replacing the unobtrusive existing alarm cover with a garish ADT one.

We complained saying we we're asked, and if we had been we'd have said no; so restore the old one. Which they did.