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Your experiences of utility companies

Discussion in 'Alzheimer's Society notices' started by HarrietD, Aug 4, 2017.

  1. HarrietD

    HarrietD Administrator
    Staff Member

    Apr 29, 2014
    3,658
    London
    Hi all,

    As part of the Prime Minister's Champions Group, Alzheimer’s Society are working with the Utilities Task and Finish group. They're a group of senior representatives within utility companies, and the goal is to create a number of principles that companies can roll out within their organisations to better support people living with dementia.

    This will be launching in the late autumn and includes businesses that supply:

    • Gas
    • Electric
    • Telephone
    • Internet
    • Water

    They want to get as much feedback and insight from people affected by dementia as possible, to make sure this guide is fit for purpose and supports people appropriately. Once it's created, a lot of work will happen to lobby all utility companies to roll this out.

    Challenges

    What are the key challenges that people affected by dementia face when communicating with a supplier:

    1. On the phone
    2. By post
    3. Online
    4. In the home?

    Your thoughts

    Have you come across any of these issues, or do you have any experiences (positive or negative) to share?

    What would a dementia-friendly utility provider look like to you?

    What do you think utility companies need to learn to better support people living with dementia?

    This thread will close at the end of Tuesday 8 August.

    Thanks everyone :)
     
  2. nitram

    nitram Registered User

    Apr 6, 2011
    13,054
    North Manchester
    I think the guide should advise any spouses or partners occupying a property to register with the utility in joint names, this can avoid a lot of hassle if either of the people looses capacity.

    If any utility does not have this facility then they should change things.
     
  3. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    3,698
    UK
    My concerns are more for the dementia sufferer in later stages when any communication is difficult if not impossible and no P of A in place, by this stage a debt has probably built up and so sending any remainders, even telephoning the account holder will achieve absolutely nothing if the utility services are not willing to discuss this someone else other than the named account holder.
     
  4. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    3,688
    Salford
    I agree 100% with the above. In the end I had to tell the utility companies to either deal with me or cut my mum off, at over 85 with AZ and living alone, not that she'd let them in anyway, eventually they did.
    Our gas bill still comes in my wife's maiden name, I tried to get it changed now that she's in care and just gave up, "we need to speak to the person the bill is sent to", fine she's in a home and can't speak, she can't remember her own name let alone her mother's maiden name.
    I appreciate that some people may want to do this for fraudulent reasons (how that may work I'm not sure) but sending a bill in my wife's maiden name when she's in care, to a house she no longer lives in! If I refused to pay what would they do, find out where she is now and sue her?
    The odd thing is they never have a problem letting me pay the bill although the cheque is in a man's name and not even the same name as the bill, they still take the money no questions asked.
    Because they can't speak to my wife I can't get a smart meter fitted but I don't mind, they can carry on sending someone round putting a card through the door saying "we came to read the meter, but you were out" for as long as they like, it's their time and money they're wasting.
    K
     
  5. 2jays

    2jays Registered User

    Jun 4, 2010
    10,343
    West Midlands
    Going by the title of the thread....

    The best way to deal with utilities....

    To arrange any change..... is to "be" the bill payer when phoning

    If a bill needs paying, you identify yourself as poa.... tell them you are recording phone call.... and if "they" won't talk to you when trying to pay said bill, because "they" need to talk to the person named on the bill...

    Tell them good luck in trying to get the bill paid

    Tell them you are prepared to pay the bill as poa, but if they insist on dealing with named person they won't get paid.

    You as poa have tried to pay, they have rejected payment, therefore there is no outstanding monies due

    Personal experience for gas, electricity.....

    When challenged.....playback of recorded phone call... suddenly as poa I was "given permission" to pay bill... I refused to do so, as per recorded phone call, I emphasised their need to talk to named bill payer...

    Yeah, the bill was eventually paid, but only after I had made "others" run round rings like they tried to make me run....
     
  6. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    7,737
    London
    What annoys me is the growing tendency of almost forcing people to go paperless because "you can always check and print bills online". Yeah, not if you're elderly with dementia, you can't. I know we have to save the environment but if you can't check your bills easily anymore, it's no good either. How is a daughter going to know if her Mum isn't overcharged if she can't even access the bills?
     
  7. oilovlam

    oilovlam Registered User

    Aug 2, 2015
    388
    South East
    I sometimes used to 'pretend' to be my father.....they never questioned that I was a young sounding 80 year old....I don't think they cared. For mundane things like utility companies I felt it was OK to 'pretend' to get things done in the best interests of my parents. As long as the bill is paid, they don't actually care.

    My father passed away last year, so I don't have the opportunity to 'pretend' to be him any longer. I don't intend to 'pretend' to be my mother.....Mrs Doubtfire is beyond my acting capabilities.

    I did have POA for my father but sometimes just couldn't be bothered jumping through the hoops to register it. It was also slightly scary how easy it is to be someone else...even someone 30 years older...all you need is a little bit of information.
     
  8. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    7,737
    London
    It's even easier to pretend to be someone else online - just open a chat window and chat with an advisor! I did that once with the mobile phone company...
     
  9. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    3,688
    Salford
    There's a bit of a thread developing here. Harriet's original post asks;
    "Challenges
    What are the key challenges that people affected by dementia face when communicating with a supplier:
    1.On the phone
    2.By post
    3.Online
    4.In the home"
    Seems to me to be all of the above, if you have dementia then you probably can't do any of them at all in anything past the early stages and the issue is how the utilities deal with the person dealing with AZ.
    If you have a POA they seem to ignore it, if you don't then they won't deal with you at all for carers it's a no win situation.
    I doubt this topic will get many replies from people with dementia because they're not the ones who have a problem, it's the carers who have the problem.
    My mother was asked her mother's maiden name, well for the record my grandmother got married near LA California in 1896 so stopped using her maiden name. My mum was born there in the 1920's what's the odds of her being able to remember that now?
    K
     
  10. istherelight?

    istherelight? Registered User

    Feb 15, 2017
    64
    Utility companies

    I have no idea how a PWD would deal with British Gas, who never returned a POA, despite calls (staff at call centre TWICE gave wrong e:mail addresses), a signed for letter (indecipherable signature with "Gas" as the signer's name) and no responses from anyone. And that includes an e:mail that eventually went to the right address. I eventually gave up. And my PWD never received her small refund either.
    What hope for a PWD in the face of such incompetence?
     
  11. irismary

    irismary Registered User

    Feb 7, 2015
    498
    West Midlands
    Although its been a bit of a performance and taken some time, often simply waiting in a queue to be answered, I have found utilities quite happy to move bills into my name. The more difficult has been a contract for the satellite tv - they were very helpful but the law seemed the issue here as whilst I can now pay the bill they can't put the account into my name (how odd) and a high street credit card company who wouldn't close a dormant account unless I sent original poa - which they would return but I wasn't doing that, or a certified copy which they would keep! As they sent a form for him to sign I got him to "sign" it. They accepted it even though the signature was a few random letters including a capital F and there's no f in his name anywhere. Perhaps another area that needs sorting. Local Authority have been ok too. Fingers crossed with the ones I have yet to do. I know its a bit off topic but really with poa this should be easier than it is.
     
  12. oilovlam

    oilovlam Registered User

    Aug 2, 2015
    388
    South East
    For a utility company to support a person with dementia they would have to know about the diagnosis. There is no reason for the utility company to be told that information....indeed the PWD may not want them to know. So really the support would most likely be to the family of the PWD....so that they could become a named contact on the account easily.

    It would seem a bit strange for a PWD to say on the telephone "I have Alzheimers" and then be treated differently. But I have said "My dad has dementia" to a utility company....I think they then just wanted his confirmation that I could be added as a telephone 'contact'. They may also put his address on a 'vulnerable' list....so that they would get speedy service should the boiler break or the telephone stop working.

    Registering a POA with a utility company is something else probably and there should be minimum levels of service in that respect....sending back signed copies, etc.
     
  13. HarrietD

    HarrietD Administrator
    Staff Member

    Apr 29, 2014
    3,658
    London
    What a response! Thanks so much everyone - your suggestions will make a big difference to informing this piece of work.

    This thread will be closed at the end of today so if anyone has anything they'd like to add, please go ahead. Thanks again :)
     
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