Direct debit
4 Jun 2010
We politicians are meant to be silver-tongued. We sell you dreams and promise to make them come true. We spin and weave. You can turn on the radio in the morning, tune in to the Today Programme and hear us at work. We speak of responding to the challenges of climate change and global recession, rather than putting up fuel prices and cutting public expenditure.

Ministers speak not of tax rises but of fiscal tightening. Putting up interest rates is called monetary discipline. Devaluation is the realignment of currencies Cuts are efficiency measures. I make no partisan point here – we politicians all speak the same language.

But we have met our match. I have a letter from the company who keeps my Blackberry connected to the outside world. On an hourly basis, it informs me of the Line to Take, and warns me of the dangers of responding to questionnaires.

The letter from my service provider started off innocuously enough

“We’re writing to update you about some changes to your Business Account”

The average punter in the street might not have been alarmed by this. But we politicians recognise doublespeak when we see it.

There followed a paragraph designed to lower suspicions “From August 2010 onwards, we will be operating a new Online Billing system”
Fine, many utilities now do this, and the company set out in some detail the benefits of the new regime. Access 24 hours a day to my account, and visibility of the most up to date status of my account. No problem.

Then followed some good news for Friends of the Earth. This change would reduce the amount of paper, and enable me to pass on to children and grandchildren a world full of trees.
And then, when one’s resistance had been lowered, the kick in the teeth. “Registering for this online service will also ensure that you avoid a £1.25 monthly charge for paper invoices.” So the “updating of the changes to my account” was in fact a threatened price increase. Insult was then added to injury, with their proposals for direct debits.

“Another incentive for switching to direct debit is that you’ll avoid having to pay an administration charge of £5 that will be applied from July.”
So my service provider is going to reduce his costs – or, more correctly, I am going to reduce his costs for him. And, if I don’t, he will increase mine.
It is decision time, and I am drafting a letter to my service provider telling him that I am withdrawing my custom.
It begins, appropriately “I am writing to update you about some changes to my Business account with you”
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Copyright Sir George Young Bt. 2015