Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sour Grapes

It's 12:45 a.m. and I'm normally sound asleep at this hour. But tonight my mind is circling over several frustrations with the local business community that are unfortunately souring my outlook...and obviously interrupting my sleep.

The most recent is a plumbing company that agreed to come out for $100 trip charge to look at our water softener and see if it could be repaired, since it doesn't seem to be consistently putting out soft water. When the guys got here, they quickly peeked into the brine tank, then briefly glanced "under the hood" and asked me to explain what it was doing. They did not test the water for hardness. They did not actually open the gauge section to see what the meter was set on as far as gallons/recharge or to see how the recharge cycle was set. They left in less than 10 minutes, after telling me that they figured we just ought to put in a new water softener, to the tune of $1000. The bill for this cavalier treatment came yesterday. It wasn't for the $100, which I'd been quoted and therefore expected, although that seemed extremely excessive for the non-job they did. No, it was for $240 - including 2 hours labor for 2 men each, plus a $40 trip charge. They charged me for time going to and from another job, which was between me and their home base, and for the fact that the other job required 2 men, so that an extra person was along for the ride when they stopped by my house. To say that I feel cheated is putting it lightly.

This is on top of on ongoing problem with our geothermal heat pump. We've been without any functional heating/air conditioning except for emergency electrical backup heat since April 12. I hesitate to go into detail, but suffice it to say that I'm not positively impressed with the company we're having to deal with. They've got a long way to go to regain my trust...if they ever had it.

Last but hardly least, I've spent quite a few hours over the past several months trying to help my parents salvage some beautiful trees along the back part of their property. After years and years of not bothering to trim them at all, despite several requests from my parents as a tree limb grew around an electric wire, this spring Westar decided it was time to do a 5+ year trim. (The tree limb around the wire issue was solved by an Oklahoma Power & Light crew during the ice storm clean up several years ago.) We looked into the option of burying the electrical lines but, as far as I could tell from the marginal assistance I could get out of Westar, that option would be over $10,000 and therefore too expensive when all was said and done.

So we waited and hoped for a bearable outcome. The process has dragged out interminably. They finally came and did their drastic cuts this week and we thought they were done. We were mourning the loss of beauty and grace, but learning to live with the new reality. The original cuts were not easy or enjoyable to watch, but we're not stupid and we know that they were necessary for safety...even if the 12' radius in all directions seemed excessive. However, we appreciated the fact that the crew did a professional and careful job, leaving no stubs and only getting into the bark collar on a few cuts.

Now they've come back and say that they want to cut out even more. The cuts they are planning will take out the center of the trees down to the ground and will destroy any hope of the trees ever recovering any beauty and function in the landscape. These are 40 year old trees in the prime of their life, with an expected lifespan of 75 years. They've made my parents' yard unique and special in a prairie state. These next cuts planned are just plain meanness.

I can't think of a good thing to say about the business community right now. I know in my head that they are not all greedy, lazy, and mean - I've met many very nice, helpful business folks over the years - but it sure seems that many of the ones I've been dealing with lately have been unethical, incompetent, and/or nasty. What ever happened to providing a service, taking care of the customer, and taking pride in a good job well done? And whatever has happened to consumer protections and watching out for the little guy? Is a hardnosed scramble for money all that we've left ourselves in this country?

1 comment:

Ted - The Energy Doctor said...

Saw your message about your geothermal. What's wrong with it? I've been through the wringer with mine and have become something of an expert on the problems they have.
you can email me at my name, Ted, at my domain -
good luck.