I am a sound sleeper. I can sleep through just about anything. However, the Boss Lady (Carol) is a very light sleeper. I guess we complement each other.
The Boss Lady awakened me the other night.
“There are people in our backyard,” she said. My first inclination was to dial 911. However, I noticed that the two persons had flashlights and were under a utility pole. Our electricity was off for about 30 minutes, which was no great inconvenience at that hour.
The next morning I learned from a neighbor that another neighbor called the Board of Public Utilities because her electricity went off. The repairs were made by putting on new support brackets on the pole for electric lines.
I also found that my Internet line was nearly on the ground, although I did not lose service. So I called the BPU. The customer service woman first tried to duck responsibility; she said that the Internet line is not the BPU’s responsibility.
I was very quick to tell her that a BPU service crew caused the Internet line to fall, so BPU should fix it. She would not identify herself, but did agree to send someone out. She would not tell me who her supervisor was.
Later that morning, a BPU serviceman showed up. He quickly climbed up the utility pole and raised the Internet line up to the proper height.
I visited with the BPU serviceman after he made the necessary repair. I told him that the utility pole had two names on it—AT&T on one side and BPU on the other.
“Who does the pole belong to?” I asked.
“I don’t know” he said. “But be certain that if it might fall down, BPU will be right here to fix it.”
Later that week I talked to Chris Lester, a fellow who used to work for The Big Daily Over Town who is now a spokesman for AT&T. He said that AT&T owns about 45 percent of the utility poles in Wyandotte County and BPU owns about 55 percent. Other utility providers such as Time-Warner and Google also use the poles. He said it appears that AT&T owns this particular pole in my backyard.
My disappointment in this experience was the BPU customer service representative. I realize she has a difficult job. People can become very irritated when they lose electricity. I recall a story that my former next-door neighbor told. She also was a BPU customer service representative; a knife-wielding person accosted her. Fortunately she wasn’t injured.
I believe that a customer service representative should identify herself or himself, either by name or number. That would be a good management practice. BPU should adopt that policy.
Murrel Bland is a former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.