Monday, 17 August 2015

Apologies from Hydro One, but what of others?

It appears that my troubles with Hydro One are, at least in the short term, over.

When I last left you on this journey through Hydro One-derland, I said that it appeared that Hydro One had sent me an up to date bill and my account was paid in full. So far, so good.

Then I received a call from Hydro One. My guts turned to jelly. Had they messed up my payment? Did I owe more money? 

It turned out that Hydro One wanted to offer me special treatment. I was called to offer an apology for my billing problems. The person went on to assure me that further inquiries were being made and that I would be called when answers were available. I was also given a different phone number and extension and told that from now on they would be my single point of contact for any Hydro One billing issues I might have.

Wow! My own private customer service agent! I guess I’m special.

The person from Hydro One-derland called again later in the week. There was more  information.

First, I received an apology for all the confusing advice I had received from Hydro One. The tapes of my interactions with Hydro One had been reviewed and I indeed had received conflicting and contradictory information from Hydro One agents. The tapes would be reviewed with them and their supervisor and they would be further counselled so this would not happen again.

I hope they don’t lose their jobs.

There was another apology. Am I detecting a pattern here?

The reason there were so many problems was because of a billing rate change on May 1, Hydro One’s billing system did not pick up the meter data and bill me correctly. I was assured that the meter was now communicating properly with Hydro One and feeding usage data. This I already knew, because I could see the usage data on Hydro One’s web page. I couldn’t before.

When I pointed out that the problem was not just with the meter but with their billing system not picking up the data from their own system, it was acknowledged that was also an issue, complicated by the rate change on May 1. I was given no assurance that it would not happen again. In other words, Hydro One’s billing system is still busted.

Finally, Hydro One said they will refund me three months of service charges of $19.28 per month or $57.84 (no mention of including HST, of course).

And I got another apology.

While all of this seems to bring my trip into Hydro One-derland to a close, I am still deeply troubled. I received this level of service because I was able to advocate for myself. I’m not afraid to stand up for my rights and challenge something I feel is wrong. I am literate and have a high level of education. I also have the advantage of a bully pulpit in this column, something I am certain was known to Hydro One.

But what about the people who aren’t literate? What about the people who keep getting further and further behind in their bills and are threatened with disconnection? What about the people who are too afraid to stand up to Hydro One because that might cost them a lot more money?

After careful consideration I am declining the Hydro One billing credit. I shouldn’t be getting special treatment because of my position or place. Hydro One should treat all their customers the same way. They should fix their billing system. But somehow I doubt they will.

Rev. David Shearman is a retired United Church minister in Owen Sound and the host of Faithworks on Rogers TV - Grey County.