Friday, July 21, 2006

Hydro Rant

I had some fun and enlightening conversations with my electric company during the blackout. And, me being me, I am sharing them with ya'll. Ain't that sweet?

To start with, a little explanation. My power company is called Hydro. Hydro, we all know, means water. So, for the rest of the world that calls the water company the water company and the power company the power company, just know that we don't do that here in Ontario. I have come across this language barrier a few times moving from Alberta to Ontario and back few times. Because if you tell an Albertan that you have a hydro bill to pay, they assume you are paying your water bill.

So, if you're an Albertan, or a non-Ontarioan for that matter, don't worry. I'm not befuddled. My utility companies are.

When the power went off about 7 or 7:30 on Monday night, and the storm hit and the power didn't come on right away, I called the 'Power Outage Line' which is a one eight hundred number designed to keep you up to date.

Luckily, I am smart enough to keep a regular phone. How many people only have cordless phones so that in a blackout they can't use them. Come on. Raise your hands.

So, I called the outage line and the recorded message lady said:
A power outage has been reported in your area (duh). Electricity is expected to be restored at 10:00 PM on July 17th.

Ok. So that's not bad. Put the kids to bed, read by candlelight, wake up in the morning to the power back on. But it wasn't. So I called again.
A power outage has been reported in your area (duh). Electricity is expected to be restored at 12:00pm on July 18th.

All right. Whatever. We'll go and fight the masses of other electricity challenged folk that want a little breakfast and coffee at the mall, walk around a while, then go home at noon. Where it still wasn't back on. So I called again:
A power outage has been reported in your area (duh). Electricty is expected to be restored at 10:00 PM on July 17th.

What? What happened? Do they actually mean yesterday, or a year from yesterday? What? So, I called again. But, instead of getting another message, I did the old trick where you push ############# until they computer gives up and sends you to a real person. I spoke with a very nice young man named Derek. It went like this:

Me: Why has the estimated time changed from noon today until 10 pm last night?
Derek: Well, the estimates change as we go.
Me: Yes, but do they go backwards?
Derek: Oh. That is odd, isn't it?
Me: Yes. So, can I get a real time now, please?
Derek: It says about 3:00 pm.
Me: And how confidant are you?
Derek: Weeellllllllll.............
Me: Ok, let me put it this way. If you lives in the country and you had a few kids and you couldn't shower or flush your toilet or give the dog water, and you called Hydro and asked what time the power came back on, and you were told 3 Pm, would YOU stay home, or would you go visit in-laws for the night?
Derek: Oh, I'd leave.

Thank you Derek. Honesty is refreshing. After confirming with him that I can check my electrical status from any phone, I packed us up and drove to Ottawa. Once there, I called back and spoke to a young lady, but I can't remember her name.

Me: I just want to know if I have power yet.
Her: I'm sorry, I don't have an estimate.
Me: What happened to 3 pm?
Her: They are still investigating.
Me: Ok, now I'm two hours away from home and can't see if my lights turn on. How can I find out if I have power again?
Her: Oh, just call here every three hours or so. We can tell you.

Ok. So I did. A few times that night, where there were still no estimates. The last guy I got, no name, was a surly bastard that kept reminding me that 13000 people had lost power. Ya. I know. But you are talking to ME, dumbass.

In the morning, I called again and the estimate was 3 pm. Ok. I didn't really believe it, but I decided to drive home without the kids and make sure the house was secure and all that. My in law would drive them home later, once the power was on. As I was just leaving the Tim Hortons drive thru, my cell rang. A friend of mine (who never lost power) sent her husband to check on the house. He saw lights.

What? So, I called back my pals at hydro. Another young man, but not nearly so personable.

Me: How come the estimate says 3 pm, but a friend saw lights on?
Him: If a friend saw lights on, I would go with that.
Me: I'm a 2 hour drive away, I need you to confirm it.
Him: Oh, we can't tell if the power is back on at a house.

WHAT?!?!?! What the hell?! Why have I been calling the last 2 days? Why has everyone been telling me to call back and see if my power is on??? WHY? Was this some kind of sick hydro office worker joke????

So, we drove home and had power. But I was totally ticked off of the idiots on the phone. I'm tempted to buy a generator, just so I don't have to talk to those idiots again.


Blogger Valbee said...

Grrrr.... this would aggravate me as well.

There was a time, in my old apartment, when we lost power in the middle of winter during an ice storm. Power was restored the following day, except that someone forgot to reconnect our particular block. And because it was a big storm, it took another two full days for them to come back to our neighborhood. So, we sat in the dark while our neighbors across the street and down the road mocked us with their electricity.

Our most recent outage was last month when we had "The Perfect Storm" hit northwest Ohio. I stuck it out for a couple hours and then went to my boyfriend's house. Then I just kept calling home periodically until my answering machine picked up, letting me know that the power was on. :)

10:24 a.m.  
Blogger Unknown said...

They are all dumbasses..... Dont it just make you steam sometimes. Oh well at least you have power again.

12:40 p.m.  
Blogger aj said...

Goodness! Yea, I loved Derek's comment, "Oh I'd leave." Nothing like honesty to totally contradict what he was saying.

Hope things get settled soon!

3:45 p.m.  

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