Are You Calling to Report a Smell of Gas or Explosion?

Ah, it's that time of year again, folks!

The cusp of Memorial Day? Allergy season? When rogue gangs of Monarch butterflies flap
northbound for their summer homes?

Um, no. It's that time of year I wage an Epic Battle with my gas utility.

I've mentioned this before; they feel every six months they need to get into my house to read my inside meter. They also feel they can only give me a four-hour window appointment, so I have to take a half day off work to have this done.

I personally feel I need the money that working outside of Meter Proximity provides.

They feel this could be solved if I just paid thousands of dollars to move it outside. Which would, in an interesting twist of fate, also require me to take off work, so it could be completed.

I feel it is stupid to do that when other gas companies seem to be able to read meters remotely, with the Technology and the Magic of Not Annoying the Frig Out of Customers, Who Actually Do Not Ponder Their Gas Meters As Much As You'd Think.

The gas company does not seem to see it the same way.

We have not yet agreed to disagree.

So they indicate that another terrific option would be for me to leave them a copy of my key, which they will keep safely for me somewhere in their offices along with Jimmy Hoffa and the Ark of the Covenant.

Given, I've just enjoyed an episode of Identity Theft, as well as someone using my blog content without my permission, I can't say I'm feeling that trusting.

So, I have my bud Josette visiting me over the Memorial Day weekend, and I realized I would be free next Thursday morning for that convenient four-hour window.

I told the gas company, "Hey, Golden Opportunity, dudes-- let's schedule it then!"

And they looked at the schedule, and they said, "Um, yeah... no. We're not available that day to look at your meter. Choose another day."

I informed them I did not have another day. If they wanted a day, this was it. The brass ring. The chalkware elephant. The giant stuffed Barney.

But I just learned I could call back during 7:30am and 9:00am the next day and see if I could get a Shop Manager to open up that time.

Okay, so, yes, the next day, I called in that earlybird hour-and-a-half-window of time and...

No shop manager. Call back again. We'll put your account on hold until you straighten out your non-Meter-Oriented-Life more in our favor.

"Do you have Saturday hours by any chance?"

Not so much.

I initially started wondering where that Shop Manager is, if he's not at work minding the shop in the morning like he's supposed to be.

But I realized. He's probably at home waiting for the meter reader.

Soon I will be calling the gas company to report an explosion. And it very well may be me.

UPDATE: And this evening, in spite of my account being on "hold," I come home to a second threatening notice indicating they have already tried to contact me, but I have completely neglected to respond.

(Um, so what WERE exactly those two phone calls I made to them? And once where I gave them a time to come, and they said they weren't available? Did I make those up? Was I sniffing natural gas fumes or something?)

But this time in the letter, THIS TIME they indicate I can fill their requirements by calling my meter reading in 24/hours a day, seven days a week. WONDERFUL! Gladly! Hand me the phone!

So I dial the number with anticipation in my heart, and give them my 13 digit account number, and they ask me to guess their name (it's Rumplestiltskin), and give them my first born child to spin straw into gold... oh, and enter my meter reading, too, and...

They won't accept it.

Nope. I need to talk to a person on weekdays and schedule a meter reading.

And that's when I exploded in a giant burst of flame all over my living room. This is now a dead woman, typing here, exploded by bureaucracy and rage like an over-roasted marshmallow.

Fer cryin' out loud.


Anonymous said...

Oh boy - that time of the year again eh !

Bob said...

Bureaucracy is fun!

Jenn Thorson said...

Anonymous- Oh yes, t'is the season. :)

Bob- Isn't it though? So, so lucky! :)

ReformingGeek said...

Yeah, stuck between a rock and a hard place. Thanks, folks, for being so freakin' HELPFUL!

Surfie said...

I'm suddenly especially grateful not to have this problem. I don't have gas, and my electic and water meters are outside. Geez, you really have to do this every six months? I think I'd have to switch to wood heat if I had that problem. I bet they're purposely being unhelpful so you'll give in and have the meter moved outside. Jerks.

Jenn Thorson said...

ReformingGeek- It's really just laughable these days-- I used to have brain aneurysms over it, but now it just seems like a Monty Python skit. :)

Surfie- Yes, unfortunately I do. Sometimes I can put it off a bit by yelling at them. But never for long. It's funny, too, because I'm generally pretty even-keel with folks, but THIS-- this has had me in Hulk Rage in the past. I figure if I get ragey over this, I can only imagine what other folks do.

Shawn said...

I'll be C&Ping this post to use on my blog next week. With names changed to make it sound original. Thanks!

Jenn Thorson said...

Shawn- Okay, but I'm going to have to take your shark as collateral.

screwdestiny said...

Uh, wow. I'd get me a new gas company, stat. We haven't had any problems like that with ours. I think our meter's outside though...

Babs-beetle said...

Ours estimate our usage and send the bill. We telephone and give them the actual reading. They send a revised bill.

Happens every time!

At least we CAN telephone the reading over. I feel for you.

Jenn Thorson said...

ScrewDestiny- We don't really have options in this area. We're assigned to the company that covers our area.

Babs- Don't ya love these archaeic processes?

Well, in an interesting twist, as I was talking to a person today, I asked why they don't have remote reading when other companies do.

"Oh, we have it." said the rep-- the first time anyone has ever suggested this. "But you have to pay $150 for it."

They have been suggesting month after month I should pay thousands of dollars to have my meter put outside, but never mentions I could pay $150 for remote reading.

IN YEARS this has never come up.