Thursday, 21 April 2011

The devolution of the March Hare

I will never ever as long as I live take for granted the ability to access hot water from a tap. Not having any for the last 6 days has done terrible things to me. Not only have we stopped cooking nice food due to the hassle of boiling kettles for washing up, we have also not done any clothes washing and my hair has only seen water and a brush once since last Friday morning. Aside from the physical affects, not being able to have a proper shower has made me feel like some sort of second class citizen. When I went to get Auntie Ignis' parking permit from the council on Monday I made sure I didn't get too close to anyone in the queue and couldn't make eye contact with the cashier behind the glass. I felt that if he looked me in the eye he would know I was a dirty stop out. I felt so ashamed.

But the worst symptom of not having hot water is a kind of red mist that seems to be hanging over me at the moment because of the ineffectual, unprofessional, moronic Boiler fixing company we made the misfortune of contacting. I cant remember a time when I have felt so angry, like I wanted to punch a wall. Or the Boiler repair man.

The chain of events that have led me to such fury are thus:

1. Saturday morning woke up with no hot water.

2. Called EDF to see if they could recommend a company to help since they supply my gas. EDF said they didn't have any recommendations but I should just look on the 'Gas Safe' website for a repair man. Thanks for your help as usual EDF.

3. Looked at the Gas Safe website who seem to think its a good idea for their repairmen to put pictures of themselves on line. This is an appalling idea. Judging these men by their photographs/mugshots I would not want them in my postcode let alone my boiler cupboard. They all looked like they kept body parts in their freezer.

4. I googled 'I have no hot water' to see what that would suggest. A company name popped up, Aspect Maintenance. I called their number and thats when my life got really red and misty. Aspect said they could send someone out but as it was a weekend it would be at a higher half hourly rate (of course) and that it would be for a minimum of 1 hour (naturally). So reluctantly, I agreed, and within 2 hours their boiler man had arrived.

The first impression was not good, he was wandering up along the road looking for a bush when I located him (he needed a p...). Then he came in and told me my boiler was broken. Then he said he didn't have the parts to fix it but I probably would need a totally new boiler system that would cost about £3K. More than than the new car. So, his 10 minute diagnosis had cost me £138.00. I'm going to retrain to be a Boiler Repair person. But rest assured, on Monday morning I would receive a quote for a new pump which might fix things temporarily and a quote for a new system which would definitely sort the problem out. I couldn't get it that day as the quoting people don't work on the weekends. Of course they don't.

5. Bright and early Monday morning I received an email from Aspect telling me that the Estimator could come round on Thursday earliest to give me a quote.??!!! Thursday??!! Before they can even do the quote??!! I never use this phrase, but OMG! And now I feel even worse about myself having used the phrase OMG!! So I called them and explained I had been told the quote would be with me on Monday AM ie now. "Hmm, I don't know why you were told that" they said. "The bloke that came round on Saturday wasn't qualified to do quotes" they added. "Or fix boilers apparently" I replied, or do anything except piss in bushes in broad daylight I thought.

So I booked the Estimator in and enquired about the cheaper, hopefully quicker to solve, option of a replacement pump. "Oh", they said. "A new pump? Let me find out". After what seemed like 3 hours but was probably only 5 minutes they came back online. "Yes we can do you a quote for a new pump". "Great!", I replied, "how much will it be then?". "I can't tell you over the phone, the Estimator will have to send this to you in an email".  WHHHYYYY???

So, an hour later the Estimator emailed me a quote for nearly £300. "Fine", I thought, "I dont really have much of a choice". So I called them and said "Yep. Thats fine, but how soon can someone can round to do the repair?". "Not until Tuesday between 12-2pm but if you did want to go ahead, I can't take the confirmation over the phone. You need to reply in an email. to the Estimator". F****ing ESTIMATOR!

(As you can probably tell, just thinking about it now is raising my blood pressure out through the top of my head like an invisible red fountain).

6. Tuesday, I waited in for the repair man but to be honest there was no way I could have left the flat even if I wanted to. My hair now looked like one of those seagulls that you see on telly thats been trapped in an oil slick. 12 o'clock came and went, as did 1pm and 2pm. So I called Aspect to find out where the repair man was. "Oh, you had it booked in for today? There's no record of it". "I sent an email confirming the booking to the Estimator, yesterday!" I yelped. "Please hold". I'm not ashamed to say it but my eyes started stinging at this point and I could feel myself getting very hot indeed. No hot water will do this to you. "Hello? I found your booking but Lindsay was looking after that and she didn't order the part for you. She's off today so there's no way anyone can come out today".

What an apalling company. Not only are they useless and obsessed with emails but they are more than happy to grass on their colleagues! By now I had lost the power of speech. "We can get it for you tomorrow and send someone between 12-2pm?". "I'll have to call you back", I mumbled. Then I hung up. And spent the next 10 minutes screaming/crying/punching thin air.

With no option, as I was already too far down the line with this company, I agreed to wait in again the next day and hope the repair man would turn up. And then I boiled 4 kettles and 9 saucepans full of water and had a 3 inch bath. Whilst it was not the most enjoyable bath I've ever had, nor the most flattering, it was AMAZING to have had a proper wash that didn't involve baby wipes or a flannel. So feeling clean and part of the modern world I felt ready to tackle the next day.

7. At 11:50am on Wednesday the repair man called, "Im on my way and will be with you at 12:30". He arrived at 1pm and told me he didn't have the right part to fix the god damn boiler!!! It was at this point that the will to live left me.

So now, its Thursday and nothing has progressed and waiting for the Estimator to show up who was booked in for 9am. Its now 10:31am.  I've called Aspect and they cant now get hold of the Estimator. He's probably sending some emails or looking for a bush to piss in. It's lucky I don't have a proper job at the moment with all the time I've had to spend at home this week. I feel all I've done these last few days is wait in for people who don't turn up, pay money to get nothing done, sit on hold on the phone, send emails that no one reads, punch thin air and fester indoors. Not exactly the best week of my life.

And as much as I love to give credit where credit is due and recommend places and companies that are enjoyable experiences or do a good job I'm afraid I also feel compelled to warn people of companies that will suck the life out of you and make you have murderous thoughts. So if you need a new boiler, do not under any circumstances call Aspect Maintenance. They are currently getting a minus infinity rating on the March Hare scale. I would not recommend this company in a billion gillion years, even to my worst enemy. On reflection, I  would much rather fancy my chances with the Body Part collectors from Gas safe. At least if they chopped you up and buried you in the freezer you wouldn't need any hot water.

I'm also blaming Aspect for my mild hangover today. I was so fed up with the weeks constant stream of let downs I accepted an invitation to drinks at the Secret Garden at Shoreditch House. If I wasn't so angry I never would have abused the complimentary bar like I did but at least I didn't take advantage of the pool and throw myself in for a quick wash. I hate Aspect Maintenance but Shoreditch House was nice and gets 7 free wines out of a possible 10.

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