Customer care, EDF style?

stevemcdowell's picture

And so it begins. The great corporate stitch-up for the 2012 Olympics.

Forgive me if what I am about to say appears bitter and unbalanced but it's better that I get it off my chest before I become angry and unhinged.

While browsing the TV this weekend I came across several expensive ads from EDF Energy full of deliriously happy 'ordinary' people who had just been given "money can't buy" Olympic VIP packages as a 'Thank you' from the company – to "reward our customers for their loyalty and to show we value them".

Check it out:

It's a spectacular prize, and an equally expensive one – perhaps I'll have a look, I think. Hang on a minute.

* Is this the same EDF Energy that is under investigation by Ofgem about the way it handles customer complaints?

* The same one that increased its gas prices by 15.4%  and electricity by 4.5% with effect from 10 November this year so that its 3.3 million British customers are now paying an average dual fuel bill of £1,166, but only if they pay by direct debit?

* So this is surely not the same EDF Energy that was found to be failing to give its own customers advice about its own cheapest tariffs in a recent Which? investigation?

* And it couldn't be the same EDF Energy that filed net profits of more than one billion euros for 2010, even though the figure was 74% down on the previous year due to, it said, low electricity prices in the US.

Well, I never, so it is.

In fairness EDF is no worse than any other of the UK's 'Big Six' energy providers that all seem to be playing a game of chase the tail to be the most scurrilous at any one time.

But being fair isn't the point of this blog, so I will continue.

I am a Londoner, have been for 25 years, and I have two children who will be in 2012 of an age where they would remember the Olympic Games for the rest of their lives.

Like all Londoners I have been required to put my hand in my pocket to pay for the Games and so I, wrongly as it turned out, thought I might be in with a chance of a ticket here and there.

I applied (twice) for more than £1,000 worth of all kinds of sports – athletics, football, weightlifting, basketball, swimming, archery – you name it, so that I might have a chance of a once-in-a-lifetime discovery with my children – something we'd all remember.

How many did I get in either ballot?

You guessed it.

And the reason why I had to explain to my crestfallen children that we would not be able to go the ball, Cinders, is because numerous big corporations like EDF nabbed all the tickets for their VIPs and their corporate charabancs.

But then comes the lemon juice in the paper cut – the coup de grace.

They've got the raw chutzpah to offer as a part of a cheesy marketing ploy the wretched things to their over-charged and exasperated customers as a loyalty bonus.

Well here's a thought.

If they hadn't bought the (extremely expensive) tickets and cooked up the (massively time consuming) marketing plan and paid – at least – hundreds of thousands of pounds for the advertising campaign, they might have given their customers what they really want for their loyalty – lower energy bills.

As I say, just a thought.

Your Comments

I hate this "thank-you tickets" thing (pioneered, I think, by a company easily as dislikeable as EDF, Vodafone) at least as much as you do, Steve, but for a rather different reason: I detest the blatant cynical manipulativeness of it all.

The way it seems to me, if they really wanted to thank and reward their customers, they'd spend their available budget on thanking and rewarding their customers. If, on the other hand, they were trying to build an entirely bogus and synthetic reputation among the public at large as the kind of generous, caring organisation that goes round thanking and rewarding its customers, then they'd spend 1% of their available budget on a handful of tickets, and 99% on a large and self-congratulatory advertising campaign about it. It doesn't take a marketing genius to figure out which option they're taking.

I am both a Vodafone and an EDF customer,and these duplicitous campaigns have served only to make me feel even more hostile towards both than I did already.