Sparse times here of late at The Blunt Crayon. Thank you for checking back, finding this and deciding to read it instead of moving onto something new and more interesting. And apologies if I’ve left you bereft of a dope beat to step to.

I moved house you see. That was one of the things that kept me away for a while. It’s not the physical moving that’s the problem, it’s all the little bits after. Like when you realise you don’t know where your gas meter is. Or you do know where it is but you don’t know how to tell it apart from the electricity meter, so you choose the one that looks more gassy. The one that looks more mechanical than electrical in construction, after all wouldn’t the electricity meter be electrical given that’s its nature? But never mind, you have the name of the gas supplier your letting agent gave you so you call them because they’ll know anyway and they can just pull a quick switcheroo and put your name on the account: job done. You tell them what your name is and all your other details and then they put you on hold. But it’s not the good type of hold where you’re quickly transported to a place of answers and resolution; it’s the other type, the bad type, where you slip off the call queue and land straight back where you started. And somebody new asks you again the questions you just answered.


So you give them your details again and they’re ready to locate on their system the meter that keeps your house all nice and warm and lovely. But they don’t recognise the number, which you’re sure is the right number. They sound very sure that it isn’t. They also don’t recognise your address as somewhere they’ve ever sent some gas. So they give you the number of the national grid so you can find out who in fact your gas supplier is. At the same time you realise you’ve somehow set up with them an account and a direct debit for your gas and electricity, even though someone else is already doing that job, but you don’t want to have to call back again later in case you get put on hold for 15 minutes again and have your eardrum slowly pricked by a ringtone. These people promise that as soon as you tell them your gas meter serial number they will tell the people already giving you gas to stop doing that so they can do it instead. To this end they give you the phone number for the National Grid. You are convinced by the simplicity of this process.

So you call the National grid. But the telephone number you were given for the National Grid isn’t for the National Grid, it is for something that goes BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP. Then, in a letter from your letting agent, you find out who your current energy supplier really is. So you phone them to ask what you meter serial number is, even though you are geographically much, much closer to it than anybody in the call centre will likely ever be. They tell you and you have to give them your details so they know you are the one eating all the gas these days. You don’t set up a direct debit with them because in the back of your mind you’re thinking about the other gas people, the ones who put you on hold but promised simplicity. And even though these older gas people are the right gas people because it’s their gas you’re using right now, it seems easier to let the other newer gas people become the de facto gas people because a) they already know your bank details and b) they’ll phone up the original gas people to tell them to put a knot in their pipe. Simple, like they told you. So honouring your hard won relationship with the new gas people, you go behind the current supplier’s back and give the meter number to the new people. And everything’s fine.


However, then the old supplier, the soon-to-be-dumped-by-your-new-supplier supplier, they start phoning you. Every day. When you’re at work. And you never take the call. You’re wondering, ‘why are they calling? Don’t they know we’re finished?’ You think about calling them back, but you think they’re just trying to win back your custom and if you call them it’ll get really awkward and they’ll start asking really gut-wrenching, guilt inducing personal questions like ‘why did you choose to switch energy suppliers?’ And you know you won’t be able to answer without mumbling like the accused on a witness stand. And if they start offering you presents you know you’ll be so weak as to take them and then you’ll have two gas suppliers and they’ll have to duel each other for your affections when all you want is a quite life with central heating. So you don’t call them back. But they keep calling you. So you do call them back. But it’s one of those call centre numbers, a communications valve that only lets them initiate a conversation, not you.


So you find another number, a number from a letter the old gas people sent you when you first moved into your new home. It was such a nice letter, wishing you luck and welcoming you into the fold. That all seems a distant, better time and you wished you’d opened that letter straight away and had thrown yourself into their warm arms and never left. But that was then and this is now. You have a new gas supplier now, and that’s all your fault. So you tell the old gas people that’s definitely it, you want to know when they’ll be out of your life and when you can expect their final remittance? And they tell you. Cold. Straight. They don’t even try to stop you leaving. You feel bad for not even giving them a chance. But if they knew? If they knew what you’d gone through just to make sure you could give somebody, somewhere some money for your privilege of hot water. But you know they won’t want to hear it. Then as you’re about to go for the last time they give you a parting shot: ‘all this should have been explained to you by your new supplier’. The line goes dead and you can’t help but think that maybe you’ve made the wrong choice.

I moved a month ago. I finally sorted the gas out this week. Finally it’s over…

…until today I saw I had another missed call.


  1. Ah. I think this is very good reason for not having blogged. If only this tale weren’t one that is repeated in so many households … They’re called ‘service industries’, isn’t that right?….

  2. This tale made me want to cry with despair and then with exhaustion.

    I pity the fool who decides to switch banks and leaves it to the new bank to ‘automatically’ sort out the transfer of the direct debits and stuff.

    It. is. NEVER. Automatic.

  3. Besnard! We all know changing supplier is a web of deceit and trickery that only exhausts you and leaves you wondering why humans need gas at all….until it comes time to eat your raw chicken.

  4. And it’s till not over! I really think it would easier to invest in a warm jumper and tinned food and be done with the whole thing.

    It’s the inhumanity of it all that makes it so relentlessly evil. At least muggers look like people when they take your money.

    Half an hour I was on the phone today, half a bloody hour!!! Thank god I was at work.

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