Tag Archives: energy

Data protection/big company stupidity & a late word from comic Lewis Schaffer



I have my gas and electricity supplied by E.ON Energy. I have never had any trouble with them and this is about the generality of stupidity, not about them.

I got a new boiler installed in my Borehamwood home a few months ago via E.ON. They arranged it. It was actually installed by a sub-contractor based in Northampton.

I then got a cold call a few weeks ago allegedly from E.ON Energy trying to pressure sell me into buying ‘free’ solar panels which – of course – I would have to pay for. I think it was actually from the sub-contractor. I could be wrong.

Last week, on Friday morning in Edinburgh, I got a voice message on my mobile.

It was from a lady Laura “calling from E.ON Energy” about my boiler replacement.

She said E.ON Energy wanted me to send them an E.ON Energy utility bill to “update” their records.

It seemed a bit odd that E.ON was asking me to send them a utility bill their own computer had sent me… so they could update information presumably on the E.ON Energy computer system.

The message said to phone 0808 168 6424

Despite assuming this was a scam, I phoned the number. A recorded message said I had to phone that number during their opening hours of 8.00am-4.00pm, Monday to Friday despite the fact I was phoning around 11.40am on a Friday.

I presumed it was a scam, so filled in an online form to E.ON’s help people. It asked: Did I want to be replied-to by email or phone?

I said e-mail.

So, when they phoned back this morning, of course, the first thing the E.ON Energy person wanted “for security reasons under the Data Protection Act” were details companies always tell you never to give out to people you don’t know who phone you.

When we got round this eternal problem, the lovely lady told me she had phoned 0808 168 6424 and this was, indeed, part of E.ON Energy. She told me that the other department of E.ON Energy had “lost some of the paperwork they had” – apparently a bill issued by E.ON Energy to me – and so they need a replacement.

“I have talked to them…” she started.

Ah! I foolishly thought. She has sent a copy of one of my utility bills from her computer to their computer.

But no, of course she had not.

She had talked to the other department and given them my e-mail address so they can e-mail to tell me they are going to phone me and then they will phone me to ask me to send E.ON a copy of an energy bill which E.ON sent to me.

By computer.

Presumably any other company would have done the same.

It is the stupidity of the world.

I await the next phone call with interest.

When I got woken up by the E.ON phone call this morning, it was at 11.55am. I was still fast asleep.

My eight hour drive last night, back from Edinburgh to Borehamwood, was fine.

Thanks for asking.

Meanwhile, on the Chortle website, I read an article by comedian Tom Rhodes about the Late ’n’ Live show at the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2000. He writes:

“The show that night was an all-American line up of comedians, hosted by Lewis Schaffer. A lot of people had gone there specifically to heckle Lewis. It was vicious and it was mean and, I admit, I found it amusing.”

I asked Lewis Schaffer if he remembered this gig.

Lewis Schaffer at the Edinburgh Fringe last month

Lewis Schaffer at Edinburgh Fringe last month

“I was decidedly ill-equipped to compere the old Late and Live show,” he told me, “let alone do a full spot. I didn’t understand the British attitude to America – which at the time was pure jealously – and I wasn’t good at the time. I just looked like I should be good. Also I was only adept at dealing with New York audiences and hadn’t worked with Brits. I’ve not been invited back to Late and Live.

“I don’t remember a gig like the one Tom Rhodes describes. I do remember one gig where Rich Hall followed me and sang a song about how shit I was. And another gig where an audience member tried to get on my stage and I pushed him back down. He said he was only coming on to help. I thought he was trying to take over. Now I know British people and know they have the propensity for mob action and also that other comics can be cruel for a laugh.”

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