A quick birthday rant
At the grand old age of 47, a pretty nondescript sort of age, I decided that today I would spend my time reflecting, meditating, thinking and not thinking. As I sat in quiet contemplation, before going out to meet some of my friends and spending some birthday money, I received a phone call. Thinking it was possibly one of my lovely friends or family who wished to speak to me, I answered the phone full of charm and contentedness.
Sadly it was just British Gas trying to convince me to do something that is allegedly of benefit to me but in reality is more beneficial to them. Thank you Mrs Thatcher. THIS is part of your legacy!
The conversation went as thus.
British Gas: Is the Mister of the household available? (Please note it was very near asking for the mAster of the household).
Me: No, I’m afraid he’s not.
British Gas: Is it him that deals with the gas?
Me: Yes, he just about manages me, thank you very much.
British Gas: Oh? Er……
Me: Oh indeed, and despite my hair being blonde and the fact that I haven’t got a willy, I do know how to talk about gas and electricity. In fact, I’m pretty good at both.
And then I switched the phone off and calmly replaced it in its cradle.
The thing is, I really resent this.
Last month, there was a flow of water coming up from my next door neighbour’s drive; spurting water out of orifices that previously didn’t exist. After a day of this, and seemingly no action whatsoever, I contacted the water board using a telephone number that was on my bill.
I got through to a charming young man who asked me for my name and my account number. I duly gave them to him, despite it being a total irrelevance to the call. I explained that I wanted to report a leak but couldn’t locate the emergency number. He then asked if I minded being put on hold.
On his return he said that he didn’t think he could talk to me any longer because the account number I had given didn’t correlate with my given name. I then offered him the possibility of an alternative name, i.e. my husband’s name.
“Ah yes!” he said, “That’s the name on the account!”
So I politely asked if I could now talk to him. His response was that it wasn’t possible to do so due to the fact that my name wasn’t on the account but I could have my name added if that is what I would like. I said that is exactly what I would like, thank you very much. His response, of course, is that I couldn’t do this without my master’s permission!
I fully appreciate these companies need to follow their blasted rules, and contrary to certain opinion, I do respect their need to operate a system that is safe, secure and mindful of privacy. However, it wasn’t as though I was asking for some monetary rebate to be made out to me. All I was doing was trying to report a leak, and even if I had been phoning to discuss a possible change to the payment system, I couldn’t do that without the “man of the house” giving me permission.
So much for equity – let’s say thank you to Mrs T again because she did SO much for women’s rights, didn’t she?
In the past, when I have been supporting a friend with regard to utilities and other such mundane activities, I’ve actually had to pretend to be their partner in order to get over the first hurdle. Even then, in the majority of cases, I’ve had to pass the phone to my friend to confirm that I’m allowed to negotiate standing orders, direct debits or even ask for a quote for house or car insurance with his permission. Again, I understand protocols but sometimes, it just seems that the little woman has a much smaller and less important voice than the male counterparts. I appreciate also, that if I was single, my rights to speak about such matters, would be recognised.
At the grand old age of 47, I am a human being in my own right, whether my name or someone else’s is on the bills that come to MY home. I’ve contributed to the family income for over 20 years and I really, really resent being treated as a second class citizen because I haven’t got a willy. I’m a human being in my own right irrespective of whether I am married, single, co-habiting, divorced, widowed or a dim-wit moron who doesn’t know how to talk on the telephone to these services.
Perhaps someone ought to tell Sid all of that!
And now, for something completely different, I shall return to the delights of my birthday gifts – CDs of Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones which I was thoroughly enjoying listening to before this happened.
Anybody seen my baby?