I am regularly astonished by how a simple chore can eat up an entire day, especially in this age of convenience where you never have to actually go anywhere or do anything in order to accomplish an administrative task.
A word in advance: I don’t understand anything I’m going to be talking about here.
Most places I’ve lived in the past, there’s one energy company you get your energy from. It’s, like, a local utility company? I think? And you just give them your name and they send you a bill. But in Texas, they have created a market opportunity by forcing you to get your energy from a third-party company that buys it from the energy people and sells it to you. So you have to pick between like 40 varying energy companies with different pricing structures and plans and shit, and then every year, you have to do it again. These resellers provide cheap plans for the first year and then raise the price, so you are supposed to change companies every year, so you’re always rotating around on the cheapest plan.
I don’t do this, because I have depression and minor administrative decisions use up all of my energy (the free kind, although frankly, I wish I could buy more of it), so something like this is my nightmare. I can’t describe how much I hate doing shit like this. So, every year, the energy reseller I use sends me an email that is like “renew your plan! Analyzing your energy usage, we recommend this one for you” and there are three options and the middle one is highlighted, and I just click that one even though I could save money by going over to the big reseller comparison website and picking some other reseller and transferring all my information over there.
This year, I did what I always do, but some weird thing happened when I clicked and it confirmed that I had selected a different plan other than the one I chose. I was already depleted for the day, so I decided to worry about it the following month, and hoped it maybe would have sorted itself out in that time (things often do).
Well, it’s this month now, and it didn’t sort itself out, and if I was reading the plan I had not picked correctly, it was going to be needlessly expensive. Except I don’t know if it really would be. Because the pricing is like “so many cents for so much energy if you use this much energy, if you use more, it’s this much, if you use less, it’s this, but then you also get a credit to apply to it, which will reduce it.” I don’t know what any of that means, or how to translate it into a single dollar amount that makes any sense to a human person. Also, because I had already picked a plan and renewed it, the website wiped out every other option and any record of what I had before, so that I could not possibly compare this thing I have now to anything else.
So, I did the thing I hate most in all the world and I called customer service on the goddamned phone. After the customer service rep laboriously asked for and received all the information that the automated system had already made me key in to get to her, I tried to explain what had happened, although I knew she wouldn’t believe me, and she just skipped past that altogether and began to explain the options to me. She talked a mile a minute, and I don’t understand a word she said. Apparently the plan I did not choose but somehow ended up with anyway was only going to be cost effective if my energy usage was somewhere between 500 and 2000 kWh, which it has only ever been once, so she agreed that this was not a cost-effective plan for me. The other plans were a certain amount in that window, but if you were below 500, you received a credit, which effectively adjusted the rate to a different rate, and same thing if you were above 1000. Or something? And then included they would come and install two thermostats in your house for free.
“I don’t need a thermostat,” I said. “Is there anywhere I can read about the different plan options?”
She ignored that question and repeated everything she had just said much faster, but louder this time. Then she said that if I didn’t want the thermostats, I would need to close my account and open a new one.
“This is a fixed plan, right?” I asked her, because one thing I know about Texan energy plans is you do not want a variable plan.
“It is standard pricing,” she replied.
“Does that mean it’s a fixed plan?”
“It’s like a standard pricing plan.”
Eventually, she transferred me to another department because, she said, I would have to move over my account to get the plan she recommended. She asked me for a lot of information to put into the system so that things would be all ready to go when she transferred me, and I waited on hold while she did that. Then, she transferred me over.
“Hello,” said the new guy, and he laboriously asked for and received all the information that she had just taken from me again. Then he said, “And how can I help you today?”
“I was just transferred,” I said. “A lady said I would have a plan that was under 500, but I had to begin again? Standard. Or fixed. So she transferred me to you, the starter person? She put my birthday in.”
“What?” he said.
“It’s different than was on the website,” I said. “There was a lady. Do you know who the lady is?”
He sighed. “I don’t know any lady,” he said. “We just get calls here.”
“There was…I was on the phone before?” I said. “With a lady? She didn’t tell me to write anything down.” Then, I made something up out of nowhere: “Is there maybe any kind of note?”
Y’all! There was a note!!!!
“Ok, I see a note in your account,” he said. “But this says…hang on. I need to talk to a supervisor.”
I waited on hold for awhile.
“We can do this, but we have to do a soft cancel of your account and open a new one,” he said (or something like that). “So I will call you back in 20 to 30 minutes.”
An hour later, he called back and said that if they shut down my account, I wouldn’t have any power. Did I want that?
I said I did not. He said in that case, they would just change my plan over in my existing account. I said that sounded like just the thing to do, so he said he’d put me on a brief hold and take care of it.
I am still on hold and the lights have started to flicker.