Saturday, September 27, 2003

Did I mention? Dominion Power sucks.

Their claim is that they'll have everyone back onto the power grid by next Friday. And they've instituted a procedure whereby you can find out when they estimate they'll have your power back on. They describe the procedure as "automated," and you'll find out by calling their automated customer-service 800 number. So you call it. You then wait through a long explanation of how wonderful they are to allow you to find out when they'll turn your power on, and how as of 3:00 this morning, there are only 225,000 customers without power. You're then given the choices for punching a button: 1, if you want to report that you've lost power; 2, if you want details about your account; and 3, if you want to open an account. Which one leads you to find out the estimated date of getting your power back? You have to guess. If you guess "finding out information about your account," you've guessed wrong. (And you have to hang up and try again.) You have to go through the "report that you've lost power" choice. Next level: press 1, if you have lost all power; 2, if you're power is flickering; 3, if there are lines down; and 4, if there's a street light out. Perhaps this one is easier to divine: pick the choice that lets them know you've lost your power. That puts you into the queue to wait for a customer service representative who asks for your phone number (which she, of course, has in front of her because you've called in on it) and address, and then asks about the nature of your call. "I'd like to know the estimated date I'll get power back." Okay, she says, and then goes through the power-out-and-lines-down information I had called in a week ago when the hurricane came through and the power went out. Is there anything else we can do for you today? "Yes, I'd like to know the estimated date I'll get power back." Oh, okay. She rummages around and brightly announces that the estimated date is October 3, next Friday. Thanks a lot. No, really.

But at least I'm not the only one who thinks so highly of Dominion Power. Today's Times-Dispatch has the daily article balancing Dominion Power's back-patting and comments from customers. My favorite customer quote: "Emotionally, it has become draining to tell my three-year-old one more time why there is no power on in the house for his night light. Despite Governor Warner's admonition to not point fingers yet, I am ready to point mine at Dominion Power - and it's not my index finger."

And what does Dominion Power say? "Most customers should have power by tomorrow night," says the state's major utility. Funny, that's not what they told me.

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