Economics · Hitting The Wall

The Tale Of An Energy Corporation.

Conversing With People Who Have Been Told What To Say.

I filed my annual electricity meter readings to my energy company last December. It was a little late, because it should have been submitted in November. So when they suggested a correction, I readily agreed, imagining this to mean that they would correct my reading for the extra month of usage.

In late January, I was startled to find that my electricity provider took €100 out of my bank account without having given any warning.

I tried to contact them through email, but all they could tell me was that my usage exceeded the payments I had made, so I had to pay the extra money. I was deeply puzzled how they worked this out, since my energy consumption has remained at around €27 a month for the last few years.

I wrote telling them this, and they wrote back saying that my usage exceeded the payments that I had made, so I had to pay the extra money.

I sent them my figures for the last three years; they wrote back saying that my usage exceeded the payments that I had made, so I had to pay the extra money.

I think you can see a picture unfolding here. Whatever I said, they said that my usage exceeded the payments that I had made, so I had to pay the extra money.

In other words, my conversation was getting nowhere.

I took to phoning them and they said that my usage exceeded the payments that I had made, so I had to pay the extra money. They also said that they had informed me by mail that the withdrawal of money from my bank would take place in January. I mentioned that I hadn’t received the letter, and they told me it had been sent.

Do you have a record of its being sent?

No, we don’t but our systems are perfect, so it must have been sent and lost in the post by the Dutch postal services. (I’ve heard that excuse from several people complaining about Dutch customer relations departments).

So what about the figures I have given you via email? I was then told that my usage exceeded the payments that I had made, so I had to pay the extra money. I asked where they got their figures from, and they told me that these were the figures on their systems.

The ones that are perfect, remember?

I was becoming troubled by the perfectness of their systems that were causing me financial problems. But so it is with a system that goes wrong: the system owners think it’s working, but can’t be arsed to check to see if it actually is. Maintenance costs money; anyway, nobody thought of it because their systems are perfect. It’s everybody else that has to pay instead. When it comes to protecting one’s comfort zone, it’s always someone else’s fault. When somebody defends themselves, look for what they are trying to defend – and work out why.

So, with nobody telling me anything – save that they couldn’t possibly be the cause of the problem – I was at a loss to understand what was going on.

Then it dawned on me, looking into my own records, that the electricity payments I had made in the first year of my tenancy were €37 a year. At the end of the year, I got a massive rebate because of my meagre consumption, which is (and remains to this day) well below the average for my neighbours.

But €37 was the amount that my electricity supplier had told me I ought to have paid them for my last year’s usage.

The penny dropped!!

They’d wiped all my records clean! I had asked them for something called a ‘correction note’.

Further to this, it was all my fault for having asked them to do this! You can imagine that the consequence of this lay heavy with me. It was little consolation that others imagined a correction note to be what I had imagined it, rather than the manner in which my energy company had enforced it. My problem was that they weren’t able to tell me, and still aren’t.

Anyway, my conversation with the customer services turned a corner. I realized that they had their hands tied by their management’s firm belief in their system, and so could say nothing against it. Nor was there any way to inform them of the correct figures because of their perfect system. It was a total impasse. [This is what I now call “Hitting the wall,” something I learned from fraudster Jan (1).

The customer services operatives had told me what I was allowed to know, and there was nothing I could do about it. In this respect, their systems were perfect for their needs: total isolation from outside interference.

In short: everything the business does is perfect, and any faults are due to the incompetence of others.

Which of course includes me.

It’s what customer services are for. The company knows that we need what they supply, so we have to behave ourselves if we are to get it. This allows the company full control of everything – save the bits which go wrong which are due – well you should know about all that by now. This in esoteric terms can be filed under the heading “blue as a process” because everything the business does is within the control of the business itself. With no outside interference allowed!

That’s yellow in esoteric terms – and if you grasp threefolding in a business situation, is the key to any business problem. If a business has problems, the answers lie outside it, or lie with those who use the services that the company provides. Well, what little remains after they’ve restricted their employees to parroting things like “my usage exceeded the payments that I had made, so I had to pay the extra money”. When a business takes control, one direct consequence of this is that they reduce their product to that of a commodity – that is to say, a product reduced to the bare essentials. The other side of this is with other companies engaged in this activity, direct competition results. These two activities act against each other through fear and the resulting cost cutting reduces the commodity to its barest essentials.

Just go to any supermarket these days if you don’t believe me! Grey, featureless places where individual expression is reduced to “we’re cheaper”. Which is about as individual as any businessman is comfortable with.

Thinking of the end user means such systems work far better. I guarantee you that. But then, when the boss is the boss – irrespective of his intelligence or lack of it – he gets to say what goes, not some ignorant customer. What might that boss say to me? “I’ve been in this business now for forty years, and it’s been fine up till now, so leave us alone.”

Which leaves me having to pay extra because their systems don’t work.

It reminds me of when Rudolf Steiner mentioned that intelligent people can be incredibly stupid. He was bright enough to see that.

 

(1) You can meet my successful businessman Jan here.

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