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Con Ed

My lights were flickering during a thunderstorm when the latest commercial for Com Ed appeared on the TV. While their wires whipped about in the wind and rain, casting thousands into darkness, the sartorial president of the world's largest maker of short circuits explained how much they have done for us without rate increases. You don't have to be a deep thinker to know what's coming.

A utility like Com Ed spends millions each year on advertising. The fact they have no competition doesn't seem to matter. Why advertise a monopoly? The ad campaigns often attempt to sell us confidence and trust. Not good messages on rainy and windy days if you get my meaning.

All the common utilities, electric, gas and phone were at one time reliable, available, timely and much simpler to engage.

Smell natural gas? One phone call to People's brought a service person rapidly to your door. Home phone DOA? Ma Bell was once the most reliable utility without question. Remember the olive green trucks? Before things like deregulation, mergers and divestitures there was one phone company and dialing 611 would bring you more than adequate service if you needed repairs.

Utilities were once focused on their customers. Now the stockholders and executives seem to come first. Time for an example of today's typical response to problems.

Living in a large modern high-rise with hundreds of units means an abundance of telephones. There are at least a thousand phones in my residential and commercial skyscraper. The phone company installers and repair techs are always around. That doesn't mean a new problem gets rapid attention. Sorry Charlie. Make an appointment .

The following odyssey was my latest trip to Phoneville . It s a very rocky road.

Lots of neighbors means lots of phones. The structure is designed in tiers. There are sixteen and they run from top to bottom. To put it simply, the size and layout of the units above and below mine are the exact same size. Each tier is different in terms of room size, shape, exposure and square footage. There are sixteen units per floor. What happens below my feet or above my head should matter not. Oh how I wish it were so.

Every time the phone company (who knows which one?) is called to solve a problem or do an installation in any of the 50-plus units in my tier they manage to short out, turn off or disconnect my phones. The last time it took seven days to get them to reconnect their handiwork. I actually was forced to run out and buy a cell phone it took so long for service, The old, green, concerned Illinois Bell would never have created the problem.

We must now all suffer the fools that manage the phone company, more for their stockholders, than customers. What kind of devious corporate penny pincher came up with the inside wire maintenance charge? You are billed every month just because everything is working.

Depending on your age you might remember the old phone company. It was called Illinois Bell. Army green trucks, fast response to customer calls, service techs with giant tool belts, plaid shirts and the steely eyes of well-trained wire plant warriors.

In the name of progress our three old line main utilities, Illinois Bell, People's Gas, and Com Ed have all seemingly warped into a new millennium approach of don't call us, we'll call you - or just don't call us. The once reliable phrase "The customer is always right" is now just "The customer is."

Complaining about problems, failures, lack of performance and similar conditions will get you nowhere if you don't complain to someone that can do you some good. Satisfaction will not occur until you reach this person. A case in point follows.

Five o'clock on a Friday night. The cable TV goes out. Calling for service brings a promise of service early next week. The wrong thing to say to a guy with a Ph.D in telephone complaining. First stop, the Internet.

After an hour of looking thru on-line corporate documentation about the cable company I was able to locate the names and cities of their corporate officers. A little more scrolling and I found the president of the company. Continuing on I found enough information to figure out what city he was living in. Hours had passed since beginning the search and it was now 11 p.m. here and midnight where the boss lived. He was listed with information and I called him. It was 12:15 in the morning and he was sleeping.

Hello, I'm a customer of yours in Chicago. I'm sorry to wake you up, but for the third time your people disconnected my cable service while installing new service in my building. After some silence came, What time is it? I told him it was after midnight and the groan was obvious. He was more understanding than I expected. Asking my name, address and phone number he assured the problem would get rapid attention. Can I go back to sleep now , he inquired. I sent him back to dreamland.

The next morning brought a knock at the door and in marched three cable company technicians and the area technical supervisor. Thirty minutes later they found the disconnected cable connections in the building's cable room and my screen came alive. Once again I proved that to get something, anything, taken care of you must get to somebody who can do you some good.



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Posted on September 17, 2007


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BOOKS - All About Poop.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Don't Let Your Pet OD.


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