To be treated like a mug, press one

For the last week or so, I’ve been getting missed calls on my mobile from a freephone number that I didn’t recognise. The caller didn’t leave any messages and the calls always came at odd times in the evening, so I just ignored them and assumed that I would be around to answer the phone at some point eventually.

Well, today they finally caught up with me. I was walking down the street in the centre of Bristol, on my way to meet Natalie from work, and I heard my phone ringing in my bag. I pulled it out and that familiar 0800 number was on the screen. Interested to find out who had been hounding me for so long, I answered.

“This is British Gas,” said a computerised voice. “Please press one.” Now, I try not to be a cantankerous old git, but I didn’t want to press one. I didn’t see why I should have to press one, just because British Gas has a computer randomly calling people and getting them to show some sign of life so that they can get connected to a customer service person. So I didn’t press one, but hung up.

I’m not even a customer of British Gas, for goodness sake. I used to be, but switched to Ecotricity six months ago exactly because of behaviour like this. And because British Gas couldn’t be bothered to even pretend that they had a green energy tariff. In the first few months after I switched, they called me every couple of weeks to ask why I’d switched (so I told them, several times) and to enquire as to whether I’d consider coming back (I wouldn’t). And it seems that they’ve decided to start bugging me again.

This comes, ironically, on the day that Centrica, the company that owns British Gas, announced a rise in first-half profits up 15% to £1.45 billion, including profits of £345 million at British Gas itself. They claim it’s because of the cold weather during the first half of the year, though I can’t help but suspect that it’s because they get their customers to do all of the work for them. To be treated like a mug, please press one.

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