Last year our telephone went dead–bees in the box on the pole–and eight days passed before said telephone company toddled out to fumigate the line. We don’t live in rural Idaho or North Dakota, mind you, and we aren’t in the midst of a blizzard. We live not ten minutes from the White House–which is not a political statement, please note–and spring’s in the air. Four years ago the telephone held me hostage without service for two weeks, insisting that the problem with my vanished phone number was someone else’s. Only when I borrowed a neighbor’s phone, got a supervisor and refused to hang up for three hours until my service was restored, did they actually look to see what was going on. Tired of me, they fixed it in thirty seconds. This is not an exaggeration.
Last year when I got the eight day repair sentence I wrote my representative to Congress, my local County Board, and the FCC–the County Board’s suggestion. Not to complain, to ask them to provide some oversight and some rules. Four months later the FCC sent me a form letter telling me I needed to write the Attorney General of the State of Alabama.
I live in Virginia.
So today, I emailed all my state delegates and senators. The County Board, too. Call me an idiot or an optimist, your choice. I explained that in Ohio, the local telephone company is required by law to go out and assess the problem within 24 hours of a report. Why, I asked, couldn’t we, too, have a law that governed this? Or at least some oversight of our utility companies.
What are the chances anyone will answer me? And why have I bothered? Well, maybe it’s because last week the cable company showed up to repair my Internet (down since December) and the technician didn’t have a new modem to replace my damaged one. Because he wasn’t allowed to carry one.
The repair man was not allowed to carry the very device that would repair my Internet. Kafka, were you only alive today.
I had to reschedule that appointment, make sure twice that this time a modem came with the deal, and wait another four days.
Why am I blogging about this? Well, I have this theory that when any of us pays for service, we deserve service. I also worry about all those people unwilling or unable to speak for theselves. Senior citizens, disabled citizens. People confused by technology who are not able to navigate the labyrinth of websites, forms, chat lines and bouncing webpages that our utilities claim will help solve our problems.
Maybe all this consumer outrage is simply because I started Weight Watchers last week. Maybe I need to do a little more consuming of the calorie kind, and use some of those extra points Weight Watchers so generously bestows each week to de-stress. Maybe then I won’t expect the services I pay for to work and work well.
On the other hand, maybe I’ll start a movement. Mad about the way your utility companies are treating you? Write somebody. Let’s see what happens. If you aren’t mad because your utilities work just fine? Let me know where you live. Is there a house on your street for sale? I’m interested.
By the way, my phone is working again. We don’t know why and we don’t know how. But more than ever, I believe in miracles. Unfortunately, I can’t cancel the work order. The incident number they promised to text us, never arrived. And the form to cancel requires it.