This is mainly because I've been looking into getting a new electricity supply. Not a replacement one, an actual brand new additional supply, with its own meter, and everything. About 20 years ago, my Dad would've phoned up the Electricity Board, who supplied everyone's electricity, and asked them about it, and they would have dealt with it.
Yesterday, I called up Scottish and Southern, who supply my electricity (ever since SWEB pissed me off so much I told them where they could stick their electricity.) They were very helpful, but apparently I needed to call their New Connections department, who'd all gone home. They gave me a number.
Today, I called that number, and got an incomprehensible woman with, shall we say, rather lacking customer service skills. Once I'd finally got her to actually spell out what she was ranting about, it turns out I need to get an MPAN number, whatever that is. She seemed to think I must be an idiot if I'd never heard of MPANs. She also told me that I couldn't do anything through them, and that I needed to call SWEB.
(Incidentally, I thought the point of breaking all these organisations up into different companies was to allow them all to compete with each other? I notice I still have no choice but to deal with SWEB, a company I'd pretty much vowed never to deal with again. And don't get me started on how the amazing competition in the cable TV market means that I get the choice of dealing with the awful TeleWest or not having cable TV...)
So. I call SWEB on the number she gave me. They said that I should call Western Power (who I think are another bit of SWEB.) Western Power said I was nearly in the right place, but that I needed Western Power Distribution, who are apparently someone different from Western Power.
I finally called Western Power Distribution, and they turned out to be the actual people I need to be dealing with. They don't let customers deal with their engineering people directly, though, so they took my number, and someone will call me back in a few days. She also gave me another number to call, in case they didn't actually call me back.
Feh. Yup, I long for the good old days, where you'd just look "Electricity" up in the phone book and know who to call.