Monday, August 06, 2007

The importance of Mr. Decimal

Well have I had such a great time dealing with my water utility! Oh yes, I have.

Last Thursday our builder's assistant superintendent rushed over to my house to help me solve the mystery of the missing water. He opened the meter for me and we poked around testing a trying to solve the mystery. When we realized there was no leak going to the house I still felt a little worried. I was not willing to let the Case-of-the-bloated-water-bill pass by the wayside. I was smart enough to get a few pictures of the reading while the meter was opened up. I had to have proof. I recorded the number, 26.68, and decided to call the utility company.

I was wise enough to search for my notes pile from the previous conversations prior to making that call, that reading seemed to not fit in with what I remember of the bill. No way was I going to talk to these dopes without my own documentation in front of me. As I laid the papers in front of me and began reading my notes I discovered something amazing. I compared the original water bill reading to the next reading from the 27th to my reading from yesterday. I shouted with glee.

I had one less digit on my most recent reading. Is it possible to have negative water use?

Yes! In bizzaro world.

Before I started to dance my victory I did double check my camera and then went to the utility's page. There I located the page where they tell you how to read your meter. So I compared their example to my photograph. I was reading the meter correctly; thankfully all the money for college was well spent! I determined that I do not have a leak nor missing water.

My friends, they took a bum reading from my meter! Whomever they sent to get the reading for 7/6-7/12 was an idiot! And then the third reading on the 27th was an idiot too. That guy was the bigger idiot as he should have caught the mistake considering that we requested a re-read. Grrr! According to my bill the initial reading was 15.10, that was the amount of water the builder had used before we took over the meter, pretty average. So the second reading according to the utility company was 213.31 for the 7/6-7/12 time frame. Somewhere a decimal was misplaced.

Okay.

I understand that this is a dull job, the reading of water meters, but uhh they have those RFID things and good gravy it's not that hard people. My meter is very easy to read. (See figure 4 on this page, I have that Neptune model.) Further why are the readers not accurately trained? I know. They do not care. When you are not the one paying for the mistakes who cares right? It's better than working for McDonald's or Wal-Mart.

So I called them. By now they have me on the frequent caller list. I got the same rep lady. Great another push into dummyville. I briefed her of my situation and she says many dumb things again.

First: "Oh but you haven't gotten a water bill. The bill you got was supposed to go to the builder."
My reply: "That's beside the point. I am calling to resolve a potential leak on the property and the ensure that the reading was correct. Who's paying what is of minor concern here when you're dealing with 100s of 1000s gallons of missing water."

Second she says: "Have you had a plumber inspect your home for leaks, in the toilet.....?"

I cut her off before she began to rattle off that stupid list of leaky suspects. I told her no, I have not had a plumber inspect my home, it was not neccessary. I overheard her make a sound as if she was thinking: "Okay lady we've had enough of you, until you get that plumber to waste more of your money we are not interested in chasing this dream of you not using all that water which we know you did because we have numbers." She began to repeat that I had better get the plumber to verify my home is leak free. I cut her off again by telling her I had the builder's assistant superintendent stop by earlier. I explained to her that I told him I was deeply concerned that there was water leaking under my home and how her utility insisted that it had to be a leak if I claimed that I didn't use the water. I continued by telling her that the builder was very concerned too as they considered this amount of missing water a public safety issue. I told her that the head plumber, the one that ensures the utility is set properly stopped by also, only to discover nothing leaking. She listened impatiently trying to get me off the phone since I didn't get a "plumber" to fully inspect the house.

She fell silent when I told her that I took my own reading. She replied:"Huh? Well...uhh...how did you get your own reading?" I reminded her that the builder came by and that we had to test the meter ourselves. I reported my reading to her, 26.68. And indicated that my reading seems to be a digit shorter, perhaps a misread? I was on hold forever. She told me that Darlene the meter reading supervisor would stop by Friday morning to investigate this meter. I could still sense the disbelief in her voice.

Darlene was a nice woman and said that my reading was accurate and she grumbled about the inaccuracy of the previous readings. She confirmed that the other readers misplaced the decimal point and indeed, again, I was correct. The utility rep called me back a few hours after that to confirm with me that they were wrong. My accurate water bill is now $70.87. I really wanted to say many things but kept a positive courteous manner. At least it was resolved.

Effing idiots! I am totally going to keep my eye on this water bill thing forever. I refuse to be charged for some employee's inability to understand decimals, particularly in a business that relies on this decimal point thing for billing.

2 comments :

Librarian Girl said...

Oh my god. That is priceless.

I wonder what they would think if you misplaced a decimal point on the check that you are paying to them? :)

Carolyn said...

I,m so glad that you are finally out of bizzaro world.... for awhile.