A guest post by Dave Bull
A Guide to Utility Companies
Dave Bull’s guide to THE REALLY USEFUL COMPANIES
……and Movistar, Spain’s biggest third-rate business and, boy, do they work hard to maintain that reputation!
Firstly let me say that it is NOT LIKE BACK HOME when you deal with the utility companies here – especially bleeding Movistar (I will explain…when I’ve calmed down) but don’t let me get started on them or we’ll be here all day. I thought we’d put together a little info that you may or may not already know – about the big utility companies that we have to deal with here. Now did I mention Movistar?
When dealing with utilities the normal method is to settle bills via direct debit and believe me,it’s better to arrange for itemised bills to be sent in so you can check them and sort out problems straight away. Also regularly check that the bills are actually getting paid because they don’t hang around out here if they are going to disconnect you.
Most properties get their water from one of the main water companies here in Spain and that company is responsible for the infrastructure of the supply and must maintain it. That means it’s the same as the UK where they are responsible up to the meter.
You will usually get your bill every two months, although some companies invoice quarterly while others do it only twice a year (know how they feel…).
Not a lot of people know that…
What a lot of people do not know is that if you should have a problem with a leak and you’re left with a hefty bill – go and talk to the Aguagest office because if it is your side of the meter (and in reality – your problem) you can get an official plumbers receipt and claim up to 30% of the cost of the bill back! Be warned though that it must be a proper (licensed) plumber – not that dodgy bloke in the tatty car.
The whole of the Costa Blanca can turn its lights on in the evening and say ‘thanks’ to Iberdrola who are the only supplier. Whether you actually want to say thank you or not, they will bill you every two months for the power you have used and an additional standing charge for, well, being a good customer!
Many small companies are beginning to spring up since de-regulation but, unfortunately for you, you will, more than likely, have to deal with Movistar at some point. Now, Movistar, where do I start? Well, perhaps their motto should be “don’t hold your breath” because once you’ve dealt with them that is what you will say to the next person who asks your advice about contacting Movistar. Quite frankly, Movistar is one of the most unprofessional, disorganized, inept companies every to grace the planet – and that’s the good bit. People have waited months and, sometimes, years for a telephone line with no customer service to help them out. The have a customer service line (1004) which is about as useful as a bacon slicer at a Bar Mitzvah and if you want to speak to someone in English? Forget it, especially if it is a fault or complaint that you’re calling up about. If I had a choice, I’d sooner put my hand in a blender (again) than deal with Movistar.
The gas bottles that we use here are supplied by Repsol (orange) and Cepsa (silver) and contain butano mostly. Both companies have either depots or outlets such as garages where customers can exchange their empty bottles and in some areas home deliveries are made every week.
Mains gas is now arriving on thee scene but with the relatively small demand for gas (especially in the summer) take up on that option is slow and the majority of homes still use the bottles. For any appliances that use gas – you must use an approved plumber or risk losing your supply (and/or life).
If you are cut-off by any of the utility companies it is an absolute pain in the culo to get switched on again. You’ll be asked to pay into a bank account – at a certain time of day – then they’ll want you to fax the payment and all your account details to their office. Then it is understood they sit on it for a couple of days before, hopefully, you get switched back on within the promised ’48 hours.’ Oh, and then they’ll add a “reconnection charge” on your next bill which is usually well out of proportion to the work involved. Trust me, don’t get disconnected – keep an eye on the bills when they are due to make sure they get paid.
This article was written by Dave Bull for MASA International who are experts in the sale of property in Spain