Cooking with gas
Friday 28 April 1995
In the bad old days, I would have visited my local showroom to find queues of people trying to pay gas bills and assistants so busy phoning Head Office or doing paperwork that they had no time to sell anything.
A conventional management would have tinkered around to reduce customer dissatisfaction, but British Gas, under the inspiring leadership of Cedric Brown, went to the heart of the matter, closing down showrooms and getting rid of the customers.
With all my local gas shops gone, I no longer had a clue where to get a cooker. When I looked in my telephone directory, I found the few remaining British Gas shops listed without phone numbers. No doubt a wise decision. Publicising the number would only encourage people to phone them, and before you could say "75 per cent pay rise", they'd all be engaged.
At least there was a depleted list of far-flung addresses, some of which I visited only to find that they too had been culled. I deduced that while most of the showrooms listed were closed, those that were still open were unlisted. Nice one, Cedric. With showrooms as rare as hen's teeth, you can't risk getting them clogged up with customers. Talking of things getting clogged up, by the way, a few years ago a serviceman came so ill-betooled that he had to use the glittering pin of his ear-ring to unclog my jets. It was a gas.
But I digress. A mere month or so after embarking on my quest, I found an unclosed showroom and ordered a cooker. Nobody turned up on the appointed installation day but a week later someone did arrive, gazed at the existing gas cooker and announced, with stunning paradox: "You can't have a gas cooker there."
The showroom pleaded ignorance; they thought it had been installed. "The whole organisation is a shambles," one assistant understated, "but I'm being made redundant next month, so I don't care." Subsequent attempts to find out precisely why I cannot have the cooker installed and what has happened to the money I paid for it have gone unrewarded.
The process of buying a gas cooker had been made so ghastly that anyone who succeeded would probably put their head into it. By making such purcheses well nigh impossible, British Gas must have saved countless lives. Their directors are worth all the noughts in their salaries and only a humourless churl would deprive them of their charter mark.
Now can anyone tell me where I can get an electric cooker?
Life & Style blogs
Husband creates spreadsheet detailing wife's 'excuses' for turning down sex
Watching TV after work makes you feel 'guilty and like a failure'
Alien: Isolation preview - If you scream in space, it makes a sound
Xiaomi Mi4: 'Chinese Apple' launches flagship mobile to challenge iPhone
Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
- 1 Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 50 books for students to read this summer: From Ernest Hemingway to Gillian Flynn
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£18000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Huxley Associates are looking...
£150 - £200 per day: Orgtel: Implementation Engineer Hampshire / London (Gre...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Real Staffing, one of the UK'...