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No Power To The Customer

| Working | April 12, 2015

(A few days prior, I had gone into the electric company’s office to make a payment. When I asked how much was due the amount seemed very low, but after double checking with the woman I shrugged and paid it. Two days later, they came over and shut off my electricity. I go down to the office to try to figure out what is going on. Both my roommate and I work the night shift, it’s in the middle of summer, and neither of us has gotten any sleep this day because of this.)

Employee: “I’m sorry, but in order to turn your power back on, you’ll have to pay $264.xx.”

Me: “What are you talking about? I came in the other day, paid my bill, and was told that I was all caught up.”

Employee: “How much did you pay?”

Me: *gives amount*

Employee: “I don’t know why she told you to pay that amount. It wasn’t listed anywhere on the account. You’ll still have to pay the balance in full before we can turn your power back on.”

Me: “Is there someone higher up I can talk to about this? This is just ridiculous.”

(The employee motions to a phone on the wall that connects directly to corporate when a problem escalates. I thank her, pick up the phone, and within seconds, I’m put on hold with a long wait time. By the time someone answers, I’m livid, but I do my best to keep my cool.)

Phone Rep: “How can I help you?”

(I relay the same story to the phone rep, who tells me the same thing the woman behind the counter did. All the while, I’m trying to get an explanation for how this got so messed up in the first place, but it just keeps going around in circles. Finally, I ask for a manager, since we’re getting nowhere. She passes the call on.)

Manager: “Hi, I hope I can help out with this. What seems to be the problem?”

Me: *gives entire story again* “I understand if there was an error, but if there was, it wasn’t on my side; it was on yours. If I’d known I had to pay that much, I would have paid it the other day.”

Manager: “I see what you mean. I’m looking over your account right now. It shows that you paid [amount] the other day, but that wasn’t even close to what was due on the account. That’s why we turned your power off.”

Me: “Okay, but if I owed the higher amount, then why did the woman here tell me I owed so much less?”

Manager: “I don’t know, but if you want to have your power turned back on, you’ll have to pay the account in full.”

Me: “So, let me get this straight. You guys messed up. You told me the wrong amount to pay. When I thought I was okay, you came and shut off my power anyway. This is in no way my fault. The error was entirely on YOUR SIDE. And you’re not going to do anything for me? My roommate and I can’t get any sleep right now, and it’s almost 100 degrees in our apartment. Is there really nothing you can do for me?”

Manager: “That’s right!”

(Shocked, I hung up the phone and stormed out of the office. Miraculously, I was able to scrounge together the money to get the power turned back on that day, and we never had a problem again. I couldn’t take my business elsewhere, because where I live, there are no other options for utilities. I wrote a letter to corporate, but all they would tell me, in short, is “tough luck.” Definitely my worst customer experience story ever!)

The Situation Isn’t Fluid

| Working | February 2, 2015

(My husband and I visit a town in Kentucky quite frequently, though we live about three hours away. We decide to buy a small house to stay in when we come to the town. We had only been in the house once, for a two day period.)

Worker: “Good day, ma’am. How can I help you?

Me: “I’m calling about my water bill. I think there is a mistake with the meter.”

Worker: “Ma’am, all meters in your area were replaced recently. There is surely no problem at all.”

Me: “Actually, that is one thing I wanted to mention. The problem didn’t start until after the meter was replaced. Anyway, it must be malfunctioning. This reading is much too high.”

Worker: *already growing impatient* “Ma’am, I can swear that our meters are in perfect working order. There is no way that your reading is too high.”

Me: “My husband and I couldn’t have possibly used as much water as this reading says we did. We’ve only been in that house for two days this month.”

Worker: “Ma’am, I’m sure you’re mistaken. You must have just used more water than you usually do.”

Me: “So you mean to tell me that four fifteen minute showers and running the dishwasher once used 60,000 gallons of water?”

Worker: “…We’ll have someone out this Friday sometime between two and four.” *hangs up quickly*

(No one showed up that Friday. They have yet to fix the meter.)

Incompetent By Any Estimate

| Working | October 30, 2014

(On every monthly electric bill it’s noted whether it’s an ‘actual’ reading or an ‘estimated’ reading. Typically “estimated” means that the reader came around but wasn’t able to access the utility closet for some reason. While it shouldn’t be a big deal to just have someone come out and re-read, the estimates are anywhere from 50% higher to twice or more our typical monthly average. This happened on the latest call.)

Me: “Yes, I’d like it if someone could come out and do a reading on my meter?”

Operator: “It looks like a reading was done just two days ago, sir.”

Me: “Actually, if you look in your system that’s an ‘estimate,’ not an actual reading, and it’s far higher than it should be.”

Operator: “Well, sir, you know that our estimates are actually based off very precise—”

Me: “Let me stop you right there because I’ve heard it before. Your ‘calculations’ are wrong. They’re based off the guy who lived here ten years ago, not us. Our average monthly consumption in the summer months is anywhere from $90 to $110, which if you looked at our CURRENT history you’d see. This ‘estimate’ is stating $197. And no, don’t tell me that it will ‘balance out next month’ like I was told last time because it didn’t. I want somebody out here to do a proper reading ASAP.”

Operator: “It’s not as easy as that, sir. We—”

Me: “Yes, it is. It always has been. When can he be scheduled to be here?”

Operator: “As this isn’t an emergency, we can’t have someone come directly—”

Me: “I know. You can’t have someone here now. Just tell me a date and a time range and I’ll make sure that the building maintenance has the utility closet unlocked during that time frame.”

Operator: “Can you… Can you please hold a moment, sir, while I set that up?”

Me: “Of course.”

(I get put on hold… and five minutes later the phone disconnects. Furious I call back, give a BRIEF explanation to the new operator, and get switched to a supervisor.)

Supervisor: “I’m looking at your account now, sir, and I apologize. It appears the person you were dealing with attempted to set you up with a repair visit, not a meter reading; they also had you flagged as a ‘problem’ customer with a ‘belligerent attitude.’ However I was actually listening in on that call and you have nothing to worry about. I’ll have your account fixed and we’ll have a meter reader out there Saturday between 10 am and 2 pm. Your account will be updated with the proper statement by Tuesday at the latest. I’m sorry that I can’t be more precise than that.”

Me: “No, ma’am, that’s perfect. Thank you!”

(My statement of almost $200 suddenly dropped to $92, and since then I haven’t had any more problems with ‘estimate’ readings!)

Being A Push Over Gets You Pushed For Time

| Working | October 3, 2014

(We’re doing an inspection on a part of the plant, checking for leaks. My coworker is young and freshly hired; the customers, especially the aggressive ones, still get the better of him.)

Coworker: “Let’s just hope [Notoriously Pushy Customer’s Manager] doesn’t ask us to anticipate the report. We’re on a tight schedule as it is.”

Me: “Well if he does, you just tell him ‘no can do.’ He’s not in a position to give us orders, and what’s the use in rushing us, anyway?”

(Right on cue, my coworker’s phone rings.)

Coworker: *at the phone* “Hello? Oh, good day, Mr. [Customer’s Manager]… You want us to finish by tomorrow… at noon? Why, yes… Of course… We’ll have the report done by then…No problem at all, really. You’re welcome… Have a nice day… Yeah… You, too.”

Me: *speechless*

Coworker: “[My Name], we’re so screwed.”

Not Enough Bridges For This Water To Go Under

| Working | July 24, 2014

(I am 13 years old. The electric/water company has a monopoly over the entire city and has several members of the city council including the mayor sitting on their board of directors so they get to do pretty much anything they want without repercussions. It is November.)

Caller: “This is [Caller] from [Company] letting you know that you have an overdue bill that needs to be paid immediately.”

Mom: “I already paid the bill two days ago through your online services.”

Caller: “Look, ma’am, I know times are hard but you really should just pay the bill.”

Mom: “I told you. I have already paid the bill through your online service. I even made a screen shot for my personal records.”

Caller: “Ma’am, you do realize that if you do not pay your bill we will be forced to shut off your electricity and water.”

Mom: “Are you deaf or just stupid!? I have already told you several times: I. HAVE. ALREADY. PAID. THE. BILL.”

Caller: “Is this [not our address]?”

Mom: “NO! That’s on the other side of town from here.”

Caller: “OH! I am sorry about that. I will get this fixed ASAP. Now, be sure to pay your bill on time.” *click*


Mom: “Yes, I would like to make a complaint.”

Customer Service Rep: “Okay, and what seems to be the problem?”

Mom: “My bill is outrageous this month. There is no way we used this much electricity.”

Customer Service Rep: “Well, ma’am, there are several different ways that you can lower your monthly bill just by conserving energy.”

Mom: “The issue is, your meter-reader didn’t do his job. Not that he ever has, for that matter.”

Customer Service Rep: “Ma’am, we take pride in our business and everyone here—”

Mom: “We were gone for two weeks while on vacation out of state and during that time everything in the house was off. We even went outside and shut off our water to make sure nothing could be left dripping. The bill is triple what it was last month. Do I have to explain to you why it isn’t physically possible for us to use triple the amount of electricity and water we normally use in a month in just two weeks?”

Customer Service Rep: “Uh… I’ll send another meter-reader out.” *click*

Mom: “Yeah, ‘cause he obviously did such a wonderful job last time!”

(It is now February, and my mom comes up to me, fuming.)

Mom: “Can you f****** believe this? The bill is triple again! I just came in from looking at both of our meters and they were no where near what it says on here.”

Me: *looking at bill* “Uh, Mom? That’s our name but the address on here is wrong.”

Mom: “WHAT?! Let me see that!”

Me: *handing it to her* “In fact I am pretty sure that’s the bartender’s house down the street.”

Mom: “That’s exactly who it is! They’re sending us his bill. WHAT THE F***?! I bet that little jerk is getting our bill and laughing all the way to the bank.”

(April:  I get off the school bus to see a truck parked in our yard. Not the driveway, the yard, right in the middle of our flower bed. A man and a woman are messing around with our meter. I think nothing of it because I know some of the other streets in our neighborhood have gotten new meters. I go to use the keypad to open the garage door. It is pouring rain.)

Lady: *shouting* “It won’t work; the electricity is off!”

Me: “Why is the electricity off?”

Lady: “Your dad said that there was something wrong with your meter so we are replacing it.”

Me: “My dad doesn’t live here. He isn’t even a resident of this city.”

Lady: “Look, kid, that’s not funny, talking about your dad like that. Now, we can’t turn your electricity back on so the garage door isn’t going to work.”

Me: “I was dead serious. My dad lives in Loop which is over an hour drive south of here.”

Lady: “Well, whatever. Run along and get out of my way.”

Me: “I don’t have another way to get inside. What am I supposed to do?”

Lady: “You figure it out!”

Me: “And isn’t it dangerous to be working with electricity out in the pouring rain? And what are you going to do about that Texas Sage you ran over? My mom is going to be furious when she sees that.”

Lady: “Hey, kid. I’M the professional here not you, and if your dad didn’t want that plant run over he shouldn’t have put it there. Now run along. You’re only getting in the way.”

(I had to sit on our porch for an hour before my younger brother got home and we went to his friend’s house a block away. His friend’s mom was kind enough to call my mother at work who was furious, to say the least. It turned out that it was the barkeeper’s meter that was broken, not ours, and they had gotten the addresses mixed up AGAIN. It has been six years and NOTHING has improved. If anything the company has only gotten worse. There has even been a Facebook page made for people that have gotten sick of their crap.)