My customer service WTF of the day for Monday, June 11, 2012

I have two services with National Grid: electricity and natural gas. I have opted in to both of their paperless billing systems. When an e-mail comes telling me that a bill is ready, the subject says:

Your NATIONAL GRID bill is ready

When you open the e-mail, there is nothing in the body whatsoever that tells you whether this is a gas bill or an electric bill. They do have the courtesy to show the last five digits of your account, so you can take those numbers and match them up against the last paper bill you received, check the payee settings in your bank’s online bill payment system, or log on to National Grid’s own site and cross-check there. Or just memorize which account number is which. After four or five months of doing one or more of these, I sent the following e-mail to customer service:

Can you please make it more obvious in these e-mails whether this is an electric bill or a gas bill? While a lot of customers don’t have both, I do and it is frustrating to have to go into my online banking system to compare account numbers, or try to remember the correlation in my head. All I’m asking is that the subject say “Your National Grid ELECTRIC bill…” or “Your National Grid GAS bill…”.


Here was their response (several days later):

Thank you for your email inquiry and patience.
I apologize for the delay and appreciate your feedback.

We have recently updated the site and I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. It is necessary to log in online to view your billing statement for needed clarification and the last four digits of your Account# will display.

If you are experiencing any difficulty, please do not hesitate in replying back for further assistance. I apologize for this inconvenience.

I have to assume that, because I mentioned “account numbers” in my e-mail, this was some kind of an automatic reply triggered by the system – after a many-day delay – to help me figure out how to check my account number? No human with any reading comprehension at all would really provide this response for the question I asked, right? I mean maybe they meant that I could only check which account is which by going online, but why not at least say something explicit acknowledging that the e-mails don’t say anything, and maybe hint at why? So being even more frustrated now, I replied:

Well, that answer isn’t very helpful, but thanks I guess.

Here was their response this time:

You are welcome.
National Grid

So either they really don’t understand sarcasm, or they are being particularly and intentionally jerky. Which I can do too.

Bottom line: I think I was pointing out a legitimate issue in their e-mails which, while admittedly probably doesn’t affect a majority of their customers, could certainly be eliminated with a very simple change to one line of code somewhere. I don’t think they’ve provided very good customer service here at all.