OT? Customers Learn the Truth About Power Co. Management

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I thought people's reaction to the way this situation was handled was very interesting......



Jack Connelly August 5, 1999

CHICAGO -- I am one of the 100,000 or so Chicagoans whose home was without power last weekend because of the transformer failure at Commonwealth Edison's substation. And, like my neighbors, I am furious at the utility company for lying to me.

I learned that you can't count on ComEd for electricity--or the truth--when you really need to. On one of the hottest days on record--when air conditioning is absolutely essential--the power fails. The company's public relations flack was on the radio misinforming us about when the problem would be fixed. First we were told we would have electricity back by Friday night, then that changed to Saturday morning, which became Saturday afternoon, then Sunday night, and so on. He shared such fascinating facts with us as demand for power hitting a new record, and that the utility had invested more than $120 million in infrastructure improvements. I was wiping my sweat-covered brow listening to this guy and wondering what planet he was on.

Under other circumstances the spokesman's put-on-a-happy-face approach to communications would be funny; in this situation it was not. Edison was not giving the public good information. Everyone I spoke with was furious about this, angrier than they were about the outage itself. This includes a cop who was tracking down seniors in high-rises that, a day after the initial failure, were plunged into darkness. He complained that ComEd hadn't told the police what was going on, so they didn't know where they needed to be. It wasn't until Saturday that we understood we would have to leave our homes.

The power came on Friday night, but went off again sometime after midnight, leaving us very confused about what to expect next.

ComEd's 800 number wasn't any better.

I didn't really know what to expect until I spoke to one of the ComEd technicians working in our neighborhood. (By the way, their efforts were nothing short of heroic.)

This guy told me that the failure of the substation caused problems "down the line," damaging equipment and cables throughout the area, and that they wouldn't know when they could turn on the power until they found all the possible problems. He said at least a day, maybe two. So, it seemed that the folks who were left to fix things had a pretty good idea about what the job entailed, and were doing their best to get it done. On the other hand, management apparently felt that such straightforward answers were not the right thing to share with the public.

At some future date I expect that a bunch of experts will issue a report on this mess that says ComEd needs to strengthen its distribution system, making it more flexible and reliable. Whatever that report may say, it'll cost money and take time to make a better system. But what Edison could do right now, and at no expense, is decide to tell the truth and be straightforward with their customers when this happens again. And I'm sure it will.


-- Deborah (infowars@yahoo.com), August 05, 1999



-- Deborah, who didn't proofread (infowars@yahoo.com), August 05, 1999.

Thanks Deborah, when the people awake from their long slumber and finally realize that they have been on the receiving end of the biggest LIE in history it won't be a pretty site.

Government and corportations have become LIARS of immense proportions. If the truth will effect their bottom line or their reelection in a negative manner and a LIE will rectify the situation you can bet which path they will take.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), August 05, 1999.

Moral of the story (and I can't do a darn thing about these italics, because I don't know how to turn them off),

If and when your power fails, get in your car and start cruising for crews (if it's safe to do so). They will know what the situation is. They always do.

-- italics (confused@can't.turnthemoff), August 05, 1999.

Whoops. Italics turned off by themselves. Magic! I bet they wish they had some of that in Chicago.

-- glad (I@don't.live-in-a-big-city), August 05, 1999.

The bigger the corporation/entity, the bigger their Public Relations firm and the bigger the lies. I ought to know...worked for one of the biggest PR firms in the world...and in Chicago!

-- Elaine Seaavey (Gods1sheep@aol.com), August 06, 1999.

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