Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One chilly opus from one angry girl.

Dear (Redacted name of utility company),

You suck.

I'm not normally one for public rants, tirades and other hysterics. But because of the hell you've put me through for the past four weeks, I'm willing to make an exception. Plus, I'm really, really cold.


Because it's Chicago. In November. It snowed yesterday. And my bedroom has no heat.

According to your various customer service representatives (So far, I believe I've spoken to at least eight of them. Lovely people, really. Especially the one who told me I should just lie. But more on that later.) this doesn't qualify as a gas emergency since I have gas to cook, just not to heat half of my living space. So I have to keep calling to try to get someone to fix the problem. They may not be able to come for another month. That's right. A month. Are you beginning to understand the source of my rage?

But let me back up, since it seems like you guys need help understanding the problem.

I became a homeowner last year. My lovely (but breadbox-sized) space used to be two even SMALLER apartments with two different apartment numbers that were converted years ago into one slightly larger condo unit. But no one seemed to have told you that. Or you just didn't care. But for whatever reason, there are two separate gas lines and two separate gas meters that feed my unit, one of which is labeled as feeding my condo and the other which goes an apartment that actually no longer exists.

So when I moved in, I gave you my address and apartment number, and you set me up. And I paid my bill. On time. In full. Every month. And we were pals.

You can imagine my surprise when I went to turn my heat this fall and only get cold air. I call my HVAC company, and re-upped a $500 annual service contract for my two furnaces. The nice technician came out to inspect the damage and discovers that the gas meter that feeds the no-longer-in-existence-apartment-that's-really-just-my-bedroom has some kind of lock on it. Looks like you turned it off. But no one told me, since the account I use and pay for and unbeknownst to me just supplies gas to my livingroom and kitchen is just peachy.

However, it turns out that getting the gas turned back on is apparently a really big, damn problem. Each time I call, someone tells me something different. The emergency number said I'm not an emergency. The customer service line told me to call the emergency line, which referred me back to them. Then the customer service line told me to just lie and say that I don't have any gas, to ensure a visit that day by a technician. I've got problems with fibbing, especially when I find out that if it's not a true emergency and someone is dispatched, I get charged a hefty fee for every half hour someone is on my property. I'm just a single girl who writes for a living. I'm not so much with the cash, so this doesn't work. Oh yeah, and then there was the time when I called and I got stuck on some kind of hold only to get transferred to an attendant at 7:01 p.m. Unfortunately, your customer service line closed at 7. D'oh.

I talk calmly. I yell. I cry. Nothing works. So I do what every feminist bone in my body rejects and turn the problem over to the boy. He works his magic and I'm told that I have to apply to open a separate account and they'll send me the application in the mail. That would have been great if the envelope you sent me actually included an application and not just a cover letter telling me to fax it back to you.

So I called again today and talked to someone else who assured me there's no way I or any of my neighbors could pay our heating bills because the balance is so low each month and that it must be paid by the condo association. Wrong again. She also explains it's impossible for there to be two gas lines going to one condo unit and that I can't have to different gas accounts _ even if I want them. But she offers to make an appointment for one of their technicans to come look at the situation. On Dec. 17.

The tears start welling.

But if there's anything I've learned in this, it's that you've got no consistency. So I try one more time. And apparently, this time I've got some kind of good karma. Or, I just beat the system by pressing "2" to set up a new account where I reach a nice, helpful, speaks-in-complete-sentences girl who tells me that if I just write a cover letter explaining this situation and fax it along with my driver's license and copy of a closing document that shows when I took ownership, I'll be able to get the ball rolling.

Of course, then it will take at least three days for them to review it before they can schedule someone to come over and turn it on. And that wait might be a week. That means we're at least a week and a half way from heat. But it's a hell of a lot closer than Dec. 17.

Since I'm not a troll, I told this wonderful lady how great and helpful she was compared to her less-than-desirable co-workers. But that doesn't erase the fact that you still suck. And my toes are getting kind of numb.



The Modern Gal said...

YIKES. I'm sorry to hear about that. I hate utility companies for this very reason.

I guess the silver lining is your saving money and energy in a big way?

I hope you have a space heater or two.

Lido Vizzutti said...

Oooh... sorry about the heat lady. I feel for ya.

Someday, over a pint or two, I will regale you with terrors of the local phone company... of which I never found a descent employee nor was the "issue" ever solved... Ugh... Isn't it horrifying to realize that when you act like a normal civilized individual nobody listens.

Well, know that there's someone here in Montana sending you warm thoughts.

Sarah said...

I hate utility companies too... especially in Chicago. I also have tirades saved up against Comcast too, but I'll spare you.