What Part Of 'No' Don't You Understand???

Over a 10-day period, I have had no less than three (3!) doorstep visits from salespeople representing Airtricity, a power generation and supply company, trying to sign me up to a contract with them, something I resolutely refuse to do.

Notwithstanding the fact tht the IncrediCave uses a combination of geothermal energy and cold fusion as a power source, I could not be less inclined to sign with these people if they offered me their service for free.

This is how it works:

The sales agent calls to your door and asks if you would like a 16% (or whatever the rate du jour is) reduction in your electricity bill. If you say yes, he asks for a copy of your bill and will sign you up on the spot if you let him. What he doesn't tell you about is the small print:
  • You have to agree to a Direct Debit payment method - this allows the service provider to take their money from your account at their convenience, something I refuse to permit;
  • If you don't pay by DD, not only do you forfeit a significant chunk of the discount, you also become liable for a one-off 'Security Deposit' of €300 ($350) which will be applied to your first bill. This is also not made clear; I found out about it through research.
  • Opting to receive a paper bill in the post also drops the discount level - Airtricity brands itself as a 'Green' company, and thinks that email is the way to go- besides, with DD, you won't even need to worry about a bill, will you?
Now, I've been from one end of this Solar System to the other and I've seen a lot of strange things, but nothing so strange as a company that works on the basis that 'the customer is not to be trusted'.

If I've learned nothing else in life, I have learned that you don't buy anything on your doorstep - with that in mind, I usually thank callers for their time and promise to look at the offer they've brought on the Web so I can see it for myself.

And that's usually the end of it.

But Airtricity appear to be more difficult to get rid of than a case of the Argonian - er, Flu...

I first tried to submit a request using their website's email complaint form. The fact that they have a category for 'Door to door Sales' is interesting. I filled out the form concisely and clearly, requesting no further sales or marketing contacts, and clicked the form's 'Send' button.

Nothing happened.

It continued not happening when I tried a second time, and a third time using a different web browser.

On Monday, I called Airtricity's Customer Service Line, whose phone menu offers four options, none of which seem to fit the category of my problem.

Selecting '3' for Sales, I spoke to a young woman and explained the situation.

"Oh," she said, "You'd better speak to a Customer Services Rep. If you hold on, I'll put you straight through."

Five minutes later I was still listening to a recording saying how important my call was and apologising for the delay.

Needless to say I hung up.

My next recourse will be a letter to the Customer Services Manager, followed by the energy Regulator.

Sadly, I remain pessimistic...