Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It's basically the "Tragedy of King Lear" but with animated penguins...

My landlord at the house I’ve been renting for the past four years (before Trevor and I bought our new home earlier this spring) is actually a family member of mine. As a favor to her for being such a wonderful landlord to me and waving things like the “Pet Deposit”, I offered to keep the utilities in my name until she could sell the house this summer. I’ve been billing her monthly, and it has all gone very smoothly.

Closing is scheduled for this Thursday at 1 PM, so I decided to call and start closing out the various accounts this morning before work. Here is the email update I sent my former landlord earlier today:

From: Deals
Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 9:18 AM
To: Landlord
Subject: RE: Utilities…


The gas (Atmos) at [???] Street is being taken out of my name tomorrow. The gas will still stay on for up to 30 days afterwards, they are just doing a final meter reading tomorrow. After that, I will no longer be responsible for the bill.

TXU is turning the power off between 3 PM and midnight on Thursday. For some reason, turning if off on Friday wasn’t an option. It was either Thursday in the late afternoon or Saturday. Since closing is at 1 PM, I figured this would be fine. Plus, this allows the new owners to initiate service between now and then so there will be no interruption (assuming they call today or tomorrow).

The water (surprise, surprise) is a problem. For whatever reason, the line is busy and/or I keep getting disconnected. I did speak to a customer service rep, though, and she told me that they experience a larger volume of calls during the summer months. She, however, could not schedule for the water to be turned off. At this rate, I’ll have the water turned off sometime in mid-October. Stupid City…


I finally was able to get in the holding pattern for a human representative around 10:30 AM. Knowing it was most likely going to take awhile (and just hoping against hope I didn’t get disconnected again), I simply put my work phone on “speaker” and went about my work day. Fifty seven minutes and eighteen seconds later (I have a counter on my phone that keeps track of the length of any given phone call), I found myself finally connected to a Water Department employee. I was on the phone with her for less than three minutes. The water will be turned off either late Thursday afternoon or early Friday morning.

Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?


Considering Dallas Water Utilities is the only game in town and they seem to thrive on slapping their customers with late fees (thanks to a system that often postmarks a bill on the day that it is due), you would think they could afford to hire more phone representatives during their own self-described “summer busy season”. Personally, I’m not convinced that the lady I spoke to this morning wasn’t the only employee in the office answering the phone.

I am also fascinated by the Customer Service Supervisors (not to be confused with the regular old reps over at Billing and Account Information). This time I only had call three of the five numbers listed on their website to find a working number (the first two had been disconnected) and an actual human being. The Customer Service Supervisor (yes, SUPERVISOR) was completely unhelpful, however, couldn’t cancel the service at my old address, and was only able to provide me with a fax number where I could submit my request to be processed (hopefully) at some point in the next 40 business days.

If I had a choice (which I don’t), I’d totally change water providers. Or cancel my service all together. Sadly, when it comes to water, I kind of need it (drinking, showering, etc.). My hands are tied.

Somewhere out there, a Water Department big wig is laughing at me and mocking my pain.

The ba$tard…

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