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A Crazy Fan With A Few Wires Loose

, | Working | May 1, 2015

(When I bought my house, I got a home warranty that’s basically an HMO for houses. If I need repair to something covered, I call a central number and they send out a repair person from the appropriate business: plumber, electrician, whatever. So one morning, I wake up and go out to my living room and my ceiling fan has come loose from its moorings and is just hanging there by the wires. After freaking out a bit, I called the home warranty folks.)

Me: “Uh, yeah, I have home warranty number [my info here], and I need… I guess an electrician, ASAP. My ceiling fan in my living room is hanging from the ceiling by its wiring.”

Scheduler: “Okay, I’ve got someone from [Business] who can come out on Monday.” *It’s Thursday*

Me: “No, I don’t think you understand. It is HANGING by its WIRING. In the middle of my living room. Where it could fall, possibly on people, at any time. This is really kind of an emergency.”

(So, after some wrangling, I get them to dispatch someone to come out within the next couple of hours. I can tell they’re using their “humoring the crazy lady” voices, but I don’t even care, because this really is an emergency, although it sort of boggles me that they don’t seem to get that. So later that day, the electrician shows up, and I show him into the room with the fan — and he stops dead in the doorway, gaping.)

Electrician: “HOOOOOLLLLEEEEE…! It’s really hanging by the wires!”

Me: “That’s what I said! About how I said it, too.”

Electrician: “I’ve been doing this 16 years, and about once a month we get a ‘hanging by the wires’ call, and every other time, it’s just been that the canopy that covers up the attachment fell down, but the actual down-rod is still in place. I’ve never seen one before that actually was hanging by the wires.”

Me: “Well, that does explain why the scheduler seemed a lot less bothered than I thought the situation warranted!”

Electrician:“Yeah, they probably thought it was the usual crazy… Uh.”

Me: *laughing* “Oh, no offense. Because clearly crazy customer stories are nothing to do with ME, right?”

(At this point he’s laughing, too.)

Electrician: “Right! You mind if I take a picture before I get started? Otherwise they’re never going to believe this back at the office. It’s NEVER the wiring!”

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.”