the giant behemoth company stuck with its outdated procedures and the slick new internet-based outfit offering the same service cheaper and with greater conveniencE
The title of this column is a phrase normally reserved for New Year’s celebrations, but it came to me this month while I was attempting to change the names on a contract to supply electricity to a new flat I have rented in Barcelona. Basically, the old in this case is represented by the dinosaur companies that have always monopolised the Spanish market with their turgid money-grabbing ways, and the new are the wave of start-ups offering green energy with a smiling face. The most important element of this, however, is the relative ease of dealing with the two - the giant behemoth company stuck with its outdated procedures and the slick new internet-based outfit offering the same service cheaper and with greater convenience. For me, the former is representative of a PP-led Spain that is now in its death throes - thrashing about like a bloated whale on the beach of modernity - while the latter glides through the water like a newly born whale cub ready to break out into the open sea. Let me explain.
As I said, all I wanted to do was change the name on the electricity contract. I make the call to the existing company in charge of providing said service to my new flat to be greeted with a ridiculously over-formal operator constantly telling me “You are very kind to wait Don Barnaby” - for that is how I’m known in this stuffy ancient Spanish bureaucratic world of full names and endless pieces of paper with stamps from various authorities; heaven forbid anyone call me by my actual name that isn’t printed on some piece of paper - as I spend a whole 45 minutes providing the last minutiae of information regarding the previous contract holder’s name and ID number, my name, my old address, my new address, my NIE, my passport number, the contract number, my full bank account number with IBAN and BIC, my thoughts on a Corte Inglés mobile phone offer, my favourite colour... all of course requiring me to spell so many unfamiliar words in either English or Catalan to a Spanish speaker who has no knowledge of either language. If I hear “Don Barnaby, ¿es T de Tarragona o D de Dinamarca?” one more time I swear my head’s going to explode. Anyway, after the endless dawdling of the operator noting down all my info and more, I arrive at the holy grail of changing the name... if I can provide the details of the latest inspection certificate. “Yes I have the certificate”, I reply, ever prepared. And so we spend another ten minutes spelling out the name, DNI, licence number etc. of the technician who certified the flat’s electrical installations two years ago. Then comes the coup de grace - “We don’t recognise that certificate so we need to send a technician round to certify the installations”. “Whoa, whoa, hold up,” I say, “What’s wrong with it?” “We don’t accept it, you need a new one”. “Let me check with the owner,” I plead. “OK then you’ll need to call us back”. “OK, but you have all this info on file right? I don’t have to go through all this again?” “No, if you call back you’ll have to start a new application, the alternative is to send round a technician and we can keep your application open”. “Why not keep it open anyway?” “We can’t.” “Because you’re a bunch of thieving manipulating good for nothing ****, that’s why!” is my parting shot.
I hang up, fuming, and click on the website of the supplier I had in a previous flat. One of those new companies. A five-minute written chat exchanging pleasant messages and photos of the required paperwork later and I have changed supplier in my new flat at no cost and a better rate. It’s going to be a long painful death Endesa.