Friday, February 29, 2008

And the Latest Epic Drama Comes to an End

With heat! No thanks to Washington Gas though. I was hoping my week would end with a little less "crazy" than what it started with, but no such luck. And though this story is pretty long, it's all a little too weird not to be blogged.

The gas technician showed up a little past noon and I went outside to show him the meter. He asked me what was wrong and I showed him the note they left. "I can't fix that." "What do you mean you can't fix it?" "We don't do that." "What do you mean you don't do that??" "It's not our policy, we don't do that."

As you might imagine, this is right about where I got pretty livid. I wanted to know why the emergency person told me it was now a "service call" when he was telling me it wasn't, why the person this morning whom I told about the "flex connector" note assigned a service man if he couldn't fix it, and lastly, if he really couldn't fix it, WHYTF no one just simply picked up a fucking phone and TOLD me that instead of leaving a note underneath my porch for me to maybe or maybe not find. (Btw, my stove worked this whole time -- another reason I never realized the gas to the heater was off. I learned much later in the day that they're on two separate lines.)

He got all up in the blame-game, telling me that what they told me was wrong, and getting all upset that I expected him to do something, and I just started to tear him a new one. I'm freezing to death in my own home because Washington Gas can't get their shit together for four days to tell me I need to call my contractor? For real? He asked me if I wanted to talk to his supervisor and I said, "WHY? Is he going to FIX it?" "No, he can explain to you our policy." "I *get* it, your policy is to screw your customers over, why do I need your supervisor to explain it to me, seriously?" He did, at one point, tell me he was a Christian. To which I just started to laugh bitterly and ask, "What does THAT have to do with anything?" The one tiny step up from being a religious nutjob who foists their views on everyone, is a "Christian" who insists that they have some God endorsed right to be a jackass.

The weirdest part is that after I realized he really wasn't going to do anything I said, "Alright, so that's it??" And started to walk inside. He just stood there and kept rudely telling me how it wasn't his fault. I kept asking, "You're not going to fix it, so we're done, right?" And he just kept *standing* there. I finally just had to close the door in his face because he wouldn't leave.

About two minutes later I hear something downstairs. I'm like, "oh great, he's probably locking my gas lines or egging my house or something." So I go downstairs and he's walking down from the porch; he'd clearly come back and done something to my meter with a very long pole. I said, "Hey, can I help you with something?" And he said snidely, "No, you can't help me with nothing." Then said, "It was cement, I couldn't do it." I have no idea what that was about, except he probably needed to come back with some measurement to prove he'd been to my house.

Then I hear him again a few minutes later. This time I open the door and he's over the railing hunched by the meter, dosing it with some soapy water (used to find the leaks). He doesn't look up and I just kept watching him....I mean, what's going on? We just had a screaming fight on the porch, and now he's back here...checking for leaks he can't fix? I just let him do his thing until a few minutes later he pointed and said, "Yup, it's right there." I tried to play along, "Oh yeah?"

He got up and started to weirdly get into the same fight with me, about how this wasn't his fault, but he was speaking calmly, and so I just as calmly tried to tell him that it doesn't matter if it's his co-worker (he spent a lot of time blaming the first technician who left me the note), his corporate office, or the reps in Bangalore, it's all "Washington Gas" to *me*, and all I ask is for someone to take a little responsibility so I'm not sitting in an icebox for a week. We actually ended up having a good talk about it, and he told me how he hates the way the customer service phone reps screw everything up, to leave the technicians to deal with the then-pissed-off customers. Then he told me that after we yelled at each other, he got in his van and thought, "If I was without heat for a week, I'd be pretty pissed off, too," and so he came back to double check that there really was a leak, because if he couldn't find one, he could turn my gas back on.

He apologized to me for the service I experienced and told me that he didn't want to leave this housecall with a "bad taste" in my mouth. I apologized to him for yelling at him, though he kept saying at that point that he understood. And he left.

Yeah. That actually happened.

I promptly called my HVAC crew. Although it's true that this was their screw up (the leak itself), I still love them. They always, *always* pick up the phone when I call, are kind and polite (and apologetic if they have to be), they send someone over immediately, and if I'm not at home, they call me afterward to tell me the status. That's all I ask: a little courtesy. So when I called them today -- and I called the head honcho directly, he immediately got his #2 off a job and they both came over personally. The apologized profusely, embarrassed that I've actually had two minor gas leaks, when they often go entire years without any of their customers reporting one, and stayed as long as it took to make sure it was absolutely fixed and that my heat compressor and fireplace were working properly.

They used some new bendy type pipes on my house, and told me that although they're supposed to be high quality material, they're finding out that they get knocked out of place too easily -- which is likely what happened to mine, it got kicked or the incredible wind storms we've been having knocked it too much. They're going to come back in the next couple of weeks and replace those flexi-tubes with fixed (hard piping) tubes.

You know what? Shit happens. I understand that things break sometimes, and a little human decency in dealing with this stuff goes a long, long way. I still highly recommend these guys, so if you want their info, email me.


At 8:28 PM, February 29, 2008, Anonymous Brian said...

Wow. That's a lot of words about your tubes... four posts and nearly 3,000 words (a guess).

I think you've exposed some stories that need further investigative journalism. Like, why is WGL Holdings ( outsourcing to Bangalore? Wouldn't their customers be better served if calls went to Americans? I know it's a little jingoistic, but come on! Everyone knows that if you want customer service done right you get real Americans to do it. (Everyone but Verizon of course. Maybe they'd be better off moving their call centers to India). Wouldn't it be a coup if Mayor Fenty could stand before the cameras and announce that he'd brought X number of jobs BACK to the District?

I had other thoughts on this, but I got sidetracked. Someone just emailed me about a space shuttle launch...

At 10:19 PM, February 29, 2008, Blogger Amber said...

he got in his van and thought, "If I was without heat for a week, I'd be pretty pissed off, too," and so he came back to double check that there really was a leak, because if he couldn't find one, he could turn my gas back on.

!!! What a story! I still can hardly believe you didn't have heat for that long.

At 12:06 AM, March 01, 2008, Blogger Kate said...

Washington Gas is my most favorite area company! I love it when my building smells like gas, I really do!

At 7:22 PM, March 01, 2008, Blogger Scenic Artisan said...

holy shit!

i'm sorry you had to go through all that.

At 12:41 PM, March 03, 2008, Blogger Jarod said...

That is indeed an epic drama. At least now you don't have to live in fear of a an epic gas explosion.


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