You thought this story was over, didn't you? Well so did I, until I opened my computer on Tuesday morning to find an email from my bank, telling me I was horribly overdrawn, and if I didn't put the right amount of money in by 3.30 that afternoon, I was in big trouble.
With hair still dripping from my shower, I rushed the half mile or so into our town centre to my bank. But guess what, they open at 10. They used to open at 9. They used to be open on Wednesdays. When will I learn?
Rather than going back home, I went to the library (who also don't open until 10, on Mondays, but luckily this was a Tuesday). I picked a book off the shelf and started reading it. It was more interesting than the one I had struggled with the day before, so it didn't seem long before 10 o'clock arrived and I could go back to my bank.
Normally you have to through a long queue to the counter for everything these days, but I must have looked and sounded desperate because when I told the lady who had ushered another woman into a private place for her meeting, if I could speak to anyone as it was an emergency, she did let me tell my story.
As soon as she showed me a print out of my account, there were some big problems on show. The company had sent in their demand for the payment, but there was also a big withdrawal of an amount that I couldn't quite get clear in my head. It was a payment by me from this bank into my credit card. And I hadn't intended to do that at all. In my confusion and haste a few days before, I had written a cheque from the wrong cheque book. And of course the other cheque hadn't yet cleared. And in the meantime, all my direct debits had been called in. “Why did you give a cheque to the credit card people anyway?” she asked.
“I didn't think there would be enough on my credit limit, and then I didn't pay by credit card after all,” I explained feebly.
“Well, you need to get onto the credit card compay and get them to send that money back into this account,” she said, and then said, “But they won't be able to do that yet, so no hurry. You will just calm yourself down and realise that you will have to pay for the overdraft, but it will only be short term.” So I let her get me to arrange to see their financial adviser, as she was sure there must be
some better way for me to manage my affairs.
So for most of the last week, things have gone smoothly. I have a warm house – and nothing has broken. However on Tuesday night this week, suddenly it got quite chilly, so I turned up the thermostat. As promised, very quickly lots of hot air came and filled the room, warming my legs and feet and making good of the company's promise. I settled back to watch a movie on TV.
About half way into the film, I suddenly became aware of the fact that there was a strong chemical smell. I had never smelled it before, and therefore, I decided it must come from the new heating system, which was being properly tested for the first time now.
I checked the radiators, and they didn't smell more strongly than the rest of the room. I checked the boiler and it smelled slightly but differently and looked hotter than usual. But it was not the strong chemical smell that was making me feel both headachy and a bit sick.
I turned off the heating, opened the windows, and went to my computer to contact the company that was poisoning me, or so I thought.
Within a few minutes of my email, someone from the company (it later turned out that it was one of the directors) called me and I again I told him about the smell and how badly it made me feel. He promised he would send someone out as soon as possible, but that he couldn't promise the next day. I was busy that day anyway, but promised to stay in on Thursday, and he would then come and check out the system thoroughly so we could get to the bottom of this matter once and for all. I didn't tell my daughters about this new development, because I didn't want to have to tell them they were right, and that something was seriously wrong.
So here it is, Thursday, and the man who did my initial survey came to my door at 9.30. I told him the situation, and he said we would test it out and see what happened. It took awhile to get the temperature high enough, but when it finally was the requisite temperature to match the heating from Monday, and guess what? No smell.
No smell in the boiler cupboard, none in any of the rooms. My technician suggested I might have had such an upsurge of dust from the radiator not having been used for so long that that caused the problem. I denied it was the smell of dust – although there is not doubt that my house is pretty dusty. He thought it might be a dead rat under the house? I said I thought I would be able to tell that smell. He suggested the bathroom next door might have had some smelly contents – but it is used
seldom, and certainly hadn't been used on the night in question. So he filled out his form, saying that as far as he could see, the system was working fine, and there were no smells.
After he left, I thought again about what he had said. He said that a high temperature, which was probably as high as had ever been experienced in my living room, would cause dust to rise. Now if you look carefully at my carpet, which is beige, you will see some reddish streaks in it. That is from where I put washing up liquid on it in an attempt to clean off some stains – coffee, chocolate, red wine, probably. Anway, it got rid of the stains, but becaue I had used the chemical undiluted, I couldn't get rid of the red colour, and my guess now, is that my chemical was none other than the residue from that bit of soap filled carpet which had been resurrected by the powerful heat.
Silly me. Humble Pie anyone?
I think the answer to the question is No, I haven't been conned. I could certainly tell the company a thing or two about how to improve their policies. But I bought a package that promised me quick and quiet heat which made all the radiators hot from top to bottom, and made my feet feel warm. And I can confirm that my feet are feeling a lot better.
But as to the expense - the savings will only come slowly over a long period of time, so I will have to be patient with that.