Thursday, 23 February 2017

The end of Extra Energy

I can't remember when I last updated you about our ongoing battle with Extra Energy, the suppliers of electricity and gas in the penthouse. Let me recap. We started a contract with them in January 2014 and for two years, despite many meter readings mostly by us but some by them and much contact they failed to produce an accurate bill. In fact over the 24 months they produced 2 bills both of which they cancelled within a few days.   We were paying a monthly direct debit and did manage to get over £700 back from them last year as we had so much credit though I had to beg and plead for this.  
Early last year we contacted the Energy Ombudsman who eventually in August 2016 produced a list of remedies for Extra Energy to complete within 28 days, produce an accurate account, credit any over payment, provide an apology and compensation of £100.  When EE failed to comply with any of these recommendations the Ombudsman simply extended the deadline every 28 days. At one stage EE advised the Ombudsman that they had completed the remedies and the Ombudsman taking them at their word closed our case.  Since nothing at all had been done we had our case restarted and the 28 day deadlines began again.  
At the end of December 2016 we terminated our contract with EE and asked for a first and final account, providing readings which EE said had been rejected 'by the industry' whatever that means.  EE then produced their own estimated account and had the cheek to add about £250 work of extra units to the gas bill, a reading which we have still not reached 7 weeks after leaving them. Fortunately Mr FF had had the forethought to photograph the meter readings at the end of the year which were eventually accepted.
I have been at my wits end, I have chased EE regularly for over a year, and the Ombudsman for 6 months, every time speaking to a different person and explaining our case the beginning.   In desperation I contacted my local MP, who passed the matter to some PR company that took on board EE's continuing untruths and told me everything was sorted when it certainly was not.  That correspondence is still ongoing and I have asked who is paying this useless PR company, hopefully not the tax payer
A couple of weeks ago we received a correct final account, once more EE made promises they did not keep but today we received the £250 or so they owed us. We have badgered them for more compensation because we need to hit them financially to get our point over and they have offered us £400 which they say will be paid in about 14 days.  Since they have failed to keep to any other deadline I have no idea if this money will be forthcoming but we do have the offer and our acceptance in writing.
Throughout this debacle I have felt helpless, frustrated and so very angry that a company can operated in such an unregulated way.  I did naively imagine that the Ombudsman was some independent body looking to support consumers and provide justice, in fact it is an organisation funded by the energy companies themselves with no clout at all.  
I have begged our MP to do something about this situation, I am fortunate that I have time and a lot of determination, imagine what it is like for people who have neither or are unable to manage such a situation.  There are many forums on line that detail similarly horrendous complaints, lots of people still waiting for resolution and wondering if it's worth the bother.  I recently explained to one EE operator who used that irritating phrase 'I can only apologise' that he could and should do much more than apologise, he could make a difference by feeding back to his manager that the policy of providing wrong information and downright lies to customers is despicable, that there is no job satisfaction in treating clients so badly and that the least he could do was keep his promise to look into things and phone me back, to be fair he did.  
A friend once told me that repeating your point of view is like throwing mud at a wall, most of it makes no difference but a little bit sticks and that has an effect. I've thrown plenty at Extra Energy over the last two years but I don't feel I've got very far.

Monday, 20 February 2017

The toilet is still in the lounge

but now the flush is on the bathroom wall,  things are progressing.  
The walls are fully tiled and look gorgeous, the washbasin, shower tray and towel radiator are in position.
Do admire the finer details of the tiles which are in three different sizes on the wall, just the large ones on the floor.  
Unfortunately the bedroom windows have not been fitted today, we have a minor setback but Mr FF is as always on the case.  For now the windows will stay in the lounge but at least there's a bit more room in there (to get to the toilet, no that's a terrible thing to say).

Thursday, 16 February 2017

A house is not a home

when it's been turned into a builders yard.
We have the bathroom fittings, basin, toilet and mirror, in the lounge, the shower screen and towel radiator are in the hall.
The new windows are in the kitchen and since the double glazed units were delivered this morning Mr FF is fitting them on the kitchen table.
I hardly have a work surface clear (of objects or dust) but I'm managing.  It feels like we are getting there, the bathroom walls are tiled and Jim is grouting as I type, the floor is still to do.  The electrician is here too, unfortunately he accidentally drilled through the kitchen ceiling instead of the bathroom, in two places, but he's such a nice man I can't be cross.
Seven more frames to go, Christoper who fitted our bi fold doors is coming 8 am on Monday to fit the windows, next week should be pretty exciting.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Bathroom

The second bedroom looks like this, all the furniture and the carpet moved against the wall and covered with plastic  The window frames were taken off so Mr FF could measure up for the new double glazed units. Last week we had Jim plus electrician plus joiner working away, a bit frantic, noisy and dusty but hey no pain no gain.
The fittings are out of the bathroom and the black and white floor tiles are all up.  The boys managed to take down the extra large mirror without incident and that has gone to a local gym.
We discovered that the floor was rotten from a flood sometime before we arrived, no wonder the tiles were loose and cracked.  Jim has installed new boards and we added anti noise and vibration matting plus underfloor heating.
We are definitely having with a steam cabinet/shower which is taking shape
The door into the bedroom has been moved, we've taken as bit of space from the bathroom for a wardrobe in the bedroom and the wall is boarded.  The white unit fitting into the wall is for the toilet the wash basin will be beside it.  We have added a recess above the toilet that will have glass shelves and lighting, I have explained to Mr FF this is to display luxury toiletries and perfumes only not spare toilet rolls and mouthwash.
Mr FF and I have finally agreed on all the new fittings, layout and lighting, everything is ordered down to the taps and mirror.  This is all a huge relief, even though some of our choices are on a 4 week delivery we can wait.   Best of all the black bath, after languishing on the landing for a few hours, has gone.  Not to the tip but to a local farmer who will use it as a water trough for his animals, the ultimate recycling, that's what we like.  Maybe we will spot it in a field one day when we are out and about, we shall certainly keep our eyes open.

Monday, 6 February 2017

A knitting post at last

I have been knitting of course but not sure you need to see more posts of socks or scarves knitted up from the stash and some put into the charity shop.  Take it from me that's mainly what I've been doing for the last weeks but there is now space in the two chests where I keep my stash, space that I hope not to be filling with more yarn.
Now I feel it's time for something more serious so I have embarked on these, Laverne from Coop Knits Socks volume 2, a Christmas gift. 
Since my LSY let me down by transforming into hardly a YS at all, I found some West Yorkshire Spinners yarn on offer not too far away though on line and ordered three colours from the Spice Rack range.  In order of viewing left to right Pennyroyal (lilac) which I'm using, Blackcurrant Bomb (self explanatory) and Cinnamon Stick (camel)
The pattern fortunately includes a chart and written instructions, I'm much in favour the latter, but it's not exactly a watch tv and knit operation. I can't enjoy challenging dramas like Apple Tree Yard or Taboo with anything too demanding on the needles. So since I'm past the heel turn on the first sock, when the patterns becomes even more complicated, I have against my usual strict one project at a time rule cast on this.
The pattern is Bobby from Rowan's Tadpoles and Tiddlers, a fantastic book I've had for many years and used a lot.  Jim who is helping us with the bathroom told us he is expecting an addition to the family in May and that it will be a boy say no more I was out for some 4 ply cotton and got started. 
And the bathroom, ah yes, more of that to follow. If only selecting new fixtures and fittings was as easy as picking out yarns, but then Mr FF doesn't have to concur with my knitting preferences. 

Monday, 30 January 2017

The balcony is shaping up

The Italian porcelain tiles for our balcony arrived last week and had to be removed from the front of the building two at a time, half put outside ready for laying and half stored in the car to be taken to a specialist for cutting.  
As the balcony is curved it took Mr FF a full day to calculate and draw up the intricacies of shaping the tiles to fit, luckily the cutter was impressed, all worked well and once again the engineer proved his worth.
The tiles sit on special pedestals that are adjusted to eliminate the major fall on the surface of the balcony, no more wedges under the table legs, we will now be able to sit out without feeling we are leaning over or that wine is spilling out of our glasses.
The work isn't quite finished as we had a house guest for three days, Mr FF did as much as he could and put the furniture out there to make some space in the second bedroom.   It feels like the huge amount of work we started last year knocking out the walls is almost over.
But don't worry that we might be resting on our laurels, our guest left today tomorrow we start stripping out the horrible bathroom.  I guess we won't be sitting out admiring the view just yet we shall be too busy carting rubble down four floors to the skip and don't ask me how we shall get that black bath on silver legs out.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

I wish I'd said that

Today we were out looking at bathrooms, tiles etc and met a lovely enthusiastic lady full of wonderful ideas who totally agreed with me that some of Mr FF's suggestions are decidedly odd.  I told her we needed to sort out not just the bathroom but the bedroom and it's storage problems too so we moved on to discussing fitted wardrobes.  She recommended a local craftsman who would produce bespoke units with painted wood doors which she suggested should have a matt finish, adding 'of course I'm very partial to a crystal knob'.  I don't know how I kept my face straight, it's my mind I know but I've been smiling and giggling all day long.  Victoria Wood lives on.