I probably shouldn’t be writing this post without giving myself a little time to calm down but sometimes my best work is done when I’m angry so I’ll take the risk.
This morning I had another negative experience regarding our electricity meter getting read (yes this is an ongoing saga and I’ve written about this issue before).
However, whilst I had some regret giving the meter reader guy a piece of my mind at the beginning of this year, I no longer feel as much empathy for them because at the end of the day I do think they personally could be more proactive to help solve these problems by passing on complaints from residents up the chain and overall be more customer service driven.
Anyway, this time, I didn’t get into an argument or give the meter man a “piece of my mind” but I didn’t give him the time of day either when he rocked up at 0800hrs blasting his horn to alert me of his presence. I was not impressed. Basically, when he gave me a “G’day mate!” Through his non-company unmarked car window, “I’m here to read your meter,” all I did was glare and shake my head because I knew his pleasantries was actually Swahili for, if you don’t restrain your dog I won’t read your meter and then we’ll estimate your usage and charge you twice as much as we should.
Picture this, I’m a busy home dad running my own business. I have our children in the car to take them to school, I’m under the pump, we’re running just on time (as usual) and then the meter reader dude suddenly appears like a demon from the Evil Dead.
If I had better notice I wouldn’t have been as mad and yes the truth is Origin Energy sent me a text stating I should expect my meter to be read two days either side of the 20th (which is today) giving me a window of 5 days to keep an eye out so I can restrain my dog. In the SMS, Origin stipulates “Please ensure you provide clear and safe access.” In other words, this notice is not meant for my convenience, instead, it’s a warning to tell me to comply with their rules so that their employee can do his job.
So for the last two days, I had been keeping an eye out and yesterday on the way to drop the boys at school I saw the electricity meter reader guy going from door to door just down the road and I thought, “Ah Ha, he’s in the area – looks like today is the day.”
When I got back home, I immediately put our dog on his chain upstairs and then I placed a small piece of tape on the meter box door so that if he came whilst I was out and the tape was broken I knew the guy had read the meter and I could then let our dog free. Disappointingly, unlike the water meter reader man, the electricity meter reader doesn’t leave a note in the letterbox notifying us that our meter has been read. Ironically, the water reader doesn’t need to gain access to our property to read the meter as this can be done through the fence but he still leaves a note anyway and I think that’s the courteous thing to do even though I’d be happy to just receive the bill since knowing he read the meter or not doesn’t really matter.
Well, by mid-afternoon the electricity meter man hadn’t come and I was feeling sorry for our dog but I didn’t want to let him off the chain because Murphys’s law the meter guy would likely turn up so you know what I did? I got in my car, and I drove around our neighbourhood to see if I could find the meter man and after about 20 minutes of searching in vain, I assumed he must have knocked off early and didn’t get to our place. I let our dog (Scooter) off the chain – what a cruel waste of a day he had when he could have otherwise been doing what he normally does having fun roaming around our acreage as dogs like to do.
Nevertheless, I still had intended to chain Scooter up again after I dropped the kids off at school this morning but the meter man surprised me turning up at sparrow’s fart no doubt oblivious to why this would annoy me so much. Luckily, I was able to catch the dog as he was coming down the stairs and carry him back up for chaining up. Not that our dog would bite – I just wasn’t in the mood to chase our small dog around the yard whilst the meter man watched on in the “safety” of his mid-90’s rusty white hatchback.
And, I go through this same ordeal each quarter (4 x per year) as most other households unnecessarily do around Australia because we have the most un-customer service orientated electricity provider network in the world.
Being an electricity meter reader today must be a bit like being a tax collector in the middle ages most people detest them. And why wouldn’t we… Firstly, Australia has gone from having the cheapest electricity prices in the world to the most expensive in just 10 years. Secondly, customer service from these electricity companies has gotten dramatically worse and even aggressive as they readily punish their consumers with fees and record disconnections, which disproportionally affect those who can least afford it such as lower-wage earners, pensioners and small businesses.
Electricity prices aside, the sooner we move to electronic automatic meter reading (smart meters) the better as long as they get the technology right and make it safe because (speaking about safety) if you haven’t heard there has been a lot of negative press and complaints about new electronic meter boxes catching fire, being faulty, not reading correctly and even making people sick in their own homes due to some type of radiation. I don’t know enough about smart meters to call these concerns myths or not I just have doubts electricity providers care anyway.
The text message received from an electricity provider should not give a “window of 5 days” as to when a meter will be read it should be a specific day with a window of time. For example, Dear Sir/Maam, this is Origin Energy. We are advising you that your electricity meter will be read this Wednesday on 20th November between the hours of 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.
If, for some reason, the meter man is unable to read the meter because he ran out of time or whatever then the residence should receive an updated text message with apologies and a new date-time of the next proposed meter reading.
But it seems to be all too hard to do… I mean, it obviously is because I’ve been complaining about this issue for many years. I’ve complained directly over the phone, talked to the meter guys and written plenty all for my gripe to fall on deaf ears.
What’re your thoughts? Have you had a gutful of electricity providers providing a primitive power service? Feel free to write a comment under this post.