Last night I turned on one of my appliances and tripped a circuit breaker which wouldn't come back on doing the usual things. I searched the forums here and there is precious little to go by if you have an electrical emergency. So I thought I'd report what I've learned in hopes of helping someone.
I was fortunate for 3 things:
1) my mobile had a medium charge left as my phone and all sockets were not working (nor my heat, fridge, freezer, etc).
2) my laptop had some time remaining on the battery
3) someone in my building had a wireless connection which was not password protected (yes I plan to trace this person down and explain but I sure was pleased to be able to get online) Thank you mr/mrs/ms Apple Wireless Network whoever you are...
I searched and searched online, not wanting to call some cowboy who would rip me off. But there isn't much in the way of recommendations here or at the Southwark Council website (there used to be a list of recommended tradesmen/people on the Southwark Council site but I couldn't find it... of course, because I needed it desperately!
I eventually read npower's web site and saw that they offer their customers (I'm not one) an electrical emergency call out service. I read the fine print and it turns out they use another company called Homeserve, www.homeserve.com, 0800 073 3311. I figured that if nPower used these people, that they must at least be mediocre and predictable and within general accepted boundaries of responsiblity and not major crooks. I did a quick Google on Homeserve and it seems like they're a big company and growing fast. Basically, they don't themselves do anything but have arrangements with local firms and guarantee several things:
1) A fixed cost (£115 for Southwark) covering up to 5 hours of work and parts
2) Certified and insured electricians (plumbers, whatever).
3) Rapid response
You can read more at their website.
So I called them. I got a woman at a call centre in this country who was pleasant and efficient. She took my details asked some questions and then told me that someone would contact me within a few hours but if I had any questions in the meantime, feel free to call them back.
About an hour later I received a call from a local firm. I didn't catch the name but they said they'd have someone out to my flat within the next few hours.
Soon after, miraculously, I figured out what was wrong and got the electricity back on. I called Homeserve and explained. They cheerfully offerred to contact the local electrical company and cancelled the electricians visit.
So in the end I can't vouch for the end result but if your electricity goes out (and you realise you have a fair amount of pounds worth of shopping in the fridge and you're getting cold and you can't use your internet connection to find anything out about electricians, then maybe Homeserve is a sensible solution.
My daughter lives in the midlands and has used homeserve for glazing after a friend broke her consevatory window and insurance company sent homeserve to repair it, it was a massive window and work was carried out to a very high standard..nice to know if her electric goes she'll get good treatment...