In both my current apartment and the previous one, heating has been supplied by a building-wide boiler. Now on the face of it this sounds like a very good idea; you don't need a boiler in each unit, and there are various economies of scale involved. The trouble comes when it comes time to pay for it.
The previous apartment's provider was a company called Dalkia, part of a large French group called Dalkia. The current one is Bord Gais Heat, a division of Bord Gais Energy. And both were a tremendous pain in the neck.
The trouble with Dalkia was the issuing of bills. They got round to doing it at highly irregular intervals, and they often never showed up in the post at all, only getting paid when a reminder for the bill I never got showed up.
The trouble with Bord Gais Heat was simply getting them to acknowledge that I existed at all, and allowing me to pay them. I didn't actually manage to get signed up properly at all until I'd been living here for months; my first attempt got lost in the move to "the new system" (a common problem with utility companies; got similarly lost in a new system move with UPC a while back), and it was remarkably difficult to get through to them on the phone. And eventually I did, and paid the deposit by laser, and asked could I set up a direct debit over the phone, but was told that no, I must send in the form. So I sent in the direct debit mandate.
And then, I get a reminder to pay my bill, warning it must be paid by date X. It had allegedly been issued the middle of last month, but only turned up a couple of days ago. So I rang up and paid it, and am setting up a direct debit over the phone tomorrow, and hopefully the whole thing is now finally sorted.
It must be something about the proximity to hot water; makes billing impossible. Both companies keep a remarkably low profile, too; if you google for "bord gais heat" all you get are boards posts trying to find out what it is, while if you Google for Dalkia, you get a confusing website with the eight million things the conglomerate does. Bizarre.