ustomer support problems with a de facto monopoly aren't new. We've all suffered the long hold times, confusing questions, and disinterested support personnel. Phone, Gas, Electric, etc - it's a common thread of adult living that these companies don't really serve you so much as tolerate you. You're usually okay until you actually need something.
What I need is a device, in the form of a large red button, which when pressed will reach through the phone and choke the life from the person I'm talking to. Death isn't required, but the ability to get their complete attention and silence rather than a monotone and canned response is necessary.
My gas is turned off at the church, and it's turned off at the outdoor meter. I called to get it turned on. I've tried lighting the pilot light on the water heater, and running a furnace. Neither of them work. When pressing the "pilot" button on the water heater, I get no hiss, no odor. All the gas line valves inside are turned in line with the pipes. Which means they're on (if not, I've tried turning them too, just to be sure).
I called to get the meter valve turned on - currently it has some locking bolt holding the valve 90 degrees from vertical. The conversation was comical and horrible all at once.
Gassy R Us: You're having problems inside with your gas?
Mr. Happy: No, The valve outside on the meter is turned off.
Gassy R Us: We don't show it as being off, you must have a problem inside. Are you home right now?
Mr. Happy: No, I'm at work. I'm pretty certain it's turned off at the meter. Everything inside passed the home inspection, and in fact, the gas was on up until about 2 weeks ago. Who turned it off?
Gassy R Us: It's not off sir. We'll send someone out to turn it off.
Mr. Happy: What? Don't turn anything off. Turn it on.
Gassy R Us: Will you be there to meet us?
Mr. Happy: No, I'm working.
Gassy R Us: Then we'll turn it off.
Mr. Happy: That's nuts. Do you turn everyone's gas off that isn't at home 24 hours a day?
Gassy R Us: If they're not home when we come, we turn it off.
Mr. Happy: Okay, then my gas is working wonderfully, and I just called to say it's the best gas ever. Don't come to my house.
Gassy R Us: We're sending someone out in the next two hours. They'll be turning off your gas and will leave a note on your door. Do you need anything else sir?
The conversation ended moments later with my head exploding. I left work, which I really hate doing on a Monday (it's a good catch-up day), and went to the church and waited for about 2 1/2 hours. No one ever came.
Later in the day I called back. I asked why they had never come. I was told they had come at 12:20 and found no one there, and turned off the gas. Mind you, I was there long before and after 12:20.
The word for today is " apoplectic
." Let's use it in a sentence:
Jerome was apoplectic when faced with the explosive stupidity of his local gas utility. He found solace in thinking about worms eventually gnawing at all their rotting carcasses.
So I'm going over there again tomorrow to see if the Magic Gas Faerie comes by to grace me with some FRIGGIN' GAS MAGIC. I know as a general rule that people in large companies care too little to really single anyone out to make their life tough. I assume all this is just some dumb mistake somewhere along the line. My theory is that they did indeed visit a house today, just not mine. Some other sucker is getting to make the same phone call I had to make, because they had the bad luck to be at work when opportunity knocked in the form of a valve-happy gas man.
Of course, it's probably rare for utility companies to make silly mistakes, right?