This is going to sound like I’m mad at PSE&G for the power being out. I’m not. Sandy was an unprecedented storm and it did tremendous damage and my power issues are minor in the grand scheme. Plus I know that an unfathomable number of people are without power and that their crews are working around the clock to get things fixed.
But you know, when they are prioritizing repairs, after police, fire, hospitals, etc, they are fixing the areas that have the most people impacted.
That they know of.
Which makes a lot of sense. Good approach. I approve.
Except I know that utilities actually have far less ability to tell the extent of an outage than we, the laypeople, might think. That is why we have to report when the power goes out. Because they don’t “just know.”
And I know that people in apartments get a sort of groupthink in which everyone thinks someone else called. Seriously, I may well be the only person who ever reports to the complex when laundry facilities are non-functioning. I’ve tried to wait out three different sets of neighbors to see how long simple repairs would take to get reported, and eventually I caved in to report it myself. (Apparently everyone thinks that fairies just magically know about issues and fly in and repair stuff. With pixie dust, perhaps. Which if true, would mean a lot of time and money and effort is being wasted by having a call center and maintenance crews. )
That combination of factors leaves me (1) aware that I DO need to report stuff and (2) concerned that the electric company could conceivably think that I’m the only one without power here. I mean, I sort of doubt it, but it’s possible. Which would get me pretty much dead last on the list.
So I guess up to this point, it’s my neighbors who irk me. 😉
Now, let’s combine apartment-dweller apathy with poorly designed automated reporting systems, shall we?
So the power went out, and I called PSE&G to report it. (Because both the news and the apartment complex had indicated that was what they wanted us to do, so I had written down the number. Helpful, yes?)
I couldn’t call from my home number. That goes through my Internet (cough cough cable bundle) so no power, no phone. I called from my cell.
When I got thru to PSE&G, the recording started with something along the lines of, “We are aware of significant outages in your area.”
If I were a person of magic-pixies-fix-stuff ilk, I might have hung up right then. “They already know.”
Yeah. But I’m not buying it. If they already knew they wouldn’t ask us to call in the first place.
And good thing too, because 5 prompts later (after we’ve established that I’m not calling about a gas leak, don’t need Spanish prompts, am not calling from the number on my account, yes I want this new number added to the account for updates, and yes I would like to be kept up to date using this number, FINALLY I get to actually report the outage.
And THEN the recording tells me they aren’t aware of any other outages in my area. And remind me, in the verbal equivalent of a form letter, that they only repair issues outside the home. You know, in case it’s just me with an issue. And not my whole building… No, wait, the whole block… No, wait, flicker flicker, yeah, it’s all of us. Darkness as far as the eye can see. So to speak.
Should I be proud to be the first to report it? (No, not so much.)
So this is my very small point of irritation with my utility company… Don’t put a “we already know about issues in your area” message on your reporting line, if what you really mean is, “we have a lot of reports coming in from all over our service area.” One inspires people to hang up without reporting issues, the other helps them understand about call volume and anticipated time to repairs.
Oh and while I’m nitpicking (and I totally am), if you’re going to put information online, make sure it’s compatible with mobile browsers. Cuz chances are good, if people need the info, then their computers are not getting any juice.
Otherwise, I have to say to the good folks at PSE&G: good work and keep on keeping on. I look forward to electricity sometime in the next week or so. Or you know, sooner. If you can. I know you’re trying.