3 Mar 2010

It pays to gih dem presshaaahhhh!

Dee Cyaptain took on British Gas 2 years ago, fought tooth and nail  over some crazy bill fuh roughly £800.00. Many of my closest colleagues had a given up tone in dey voice. Yuh know, like when you meet Goliath cower in a corner. Even one of the Cyaptain’s tribe said, “Give up! Yuh was’ing yuh time.. you does pick dee wrong battles!” And true to form dee Cyaptain said, “NAHEEE!! I’s pure preshaahhh fuh dem!!

Dey nearly cut orf my gyas man – in winter. But I was determined as F*! I even bought a sleeping bag – jes in case push come to shove ah could wrap up warm in meh house.

Dee battle continued and dee Cyaptain beat back the giant! One of my close colleagues was absolutely gobsmacked that the giant fell. Yep – British Gas caved-in – and found a way to obliterate the £800 for 4 years of arrears they were claiming. [All dis was out of court].

War Again!! [Dis is a long one]

Well today, dee Cyaptain went to ‘war’ again. Dis time it was a motor car insurance company. Basically dey give me a quotation for 4 drivers on one car including of course Mrs Walker. LOL. Yeah ova here each driver has to be named on dee policy. Come to purchase dee policy dey, realise’ dat Mrs Walker only in dee country less dan 3 months fuh dee year. And dey go ‘We can’t cover her unless she’s living in the country for more than 9 months in the year!’ Three frontline staff consult their managers and come back wid dee same story.

Den dey do dee usual crap i.e. dey start repeatin’ dey self and dey blasted policy… and daize one t’ing does get me hot! So I tell dem like it is, “Don’t repeat to me what I already told you I understand, please! I’m not going to believe you or go away just because you repeat yourself or the policy… where is the policy?” Right so they refer me to the policy online and quote para 14 headed ‘Residency’. Well who tell dem do dat? Because now dee Cyaptain had the opportunity to dissect their policy.

The policy stated: “We will only provide you with the cover set out in this policy if you and/or any additional drivers, on your policy, are permanent UK residents.” Well ah launch into dem as follows by email:

  1. There was nothing in para 14 that referred to a timescale, for what may lead to an interpretation of 'Residency' or 'permanent UK residents'.
  2. There was no other information available on your website or in the public domain that clarified how those words were to be interpreted.
  3. At the points of sale there were no questions asked about 'residency', any applicable time limits. It was only by pure chance when Mr X asked me about Mrs Walker travelling to work that this point emerged. Up to that point her 'status' was not a matter at all.
  4. I made the point to Mr X that I found the policy difficult reconcile with the principles of European law which positively support non-discrimination and free movement of workers. I said that if the policy was to be applied with the interpretation to exclude Mrs Walker, for the reasons given, it was potentially discriminatory (and I was clear that I did NOT use 'discriminatory' in the sense of any racial discrimination).

My interpretation of your policy:

  1. The heading 'Residency' in para 14 and the word 'permanent UK residents' in their natural reasonable construction, are meant to exclude persons who are not UK citizens for migratory or immigration purposes i.e. not to exclude people who are UK citizens who work in and out of Europe.
  2. The interpretation taken by your Company up to this time is most unusual.
  3. If (I emphasise if) your policy under para 14 (Residency) had been worded  -  'living in or on UK territories for greater than 9 months of the year' - which is the construction given to it at this time, lots of people who are UK citizens would be excluded e.g. armed services personnel, those in diplomatic services, and workers who have no fixed assignments abroad.
  4. If the existing policy does not exclude UK citizens working abroad in overseas UK territories, I find it difficult why the policy should then seek to exclude UK citizens working in EU territories.
  5. The potential effects of your policy if applied, in the interpretation given up to the time of sending this email are:
    1. To exclude UK citizens, who are normally resident for immigration purposes, who work in Europe or any other country for lengthy periods of time.
    2. To discriminate against the rights to freedom of movement in and among European nations.

I put the above to them on the phone and by email and requested a response today! All dis was before lunch time. By 15:24 dey call back saying ‘It was a mistake.. we are sorry”. Sorry? Mistake? Well daize like waving a red rag to a bull! Dee Cyaptain doh like dem words at all.. at all.. at all! So I go “Well sorry is a cheap and easy word when four hours of my time has been consumed and I’m stressed out.”  Dis is dee part whey dee big companies does beat yuh up and den pat yuh on dee head and go ‘sorrrryyyy”. Eh eh.. I eh taking dat. So I tell dee uman “Are you gonna make a tangible gesture of goodwill or not?” To which she replies, “Okay we can compensate you for your phonecalls.” I didn’t want to push it, and as it was goodwill I said, “Alright, I’ll have £10”. She agreed to send me a cheque for £10. She had said the call was being recorded… and of course dee Cyaptain has similar technology! So touché – eh!

Later on the deal was completed without complication at 16:40PM.

The above was important to me because my cost savings would have been about £800 overall.

Morals from dee story

  1. Doh take shit! Doh do nuthin’ wid shit except get others to clean it up, and keep it far from you.
  2. People are generally stupid.
  3. People generally cyah read and understand – even in dis great UK.
  4. People work on authority more than logic.
  5. People in general cannot interpret law and policy, or care much for it. Instead they will do what their bosses tell um, regardless.
  6. Never give up – if you know you have some fundamental referenced right and you can clearly see the evidence of how it is being infringed.