The shock doctrine

The only prompt 'service' from them is plucking out the fuse if the bill is unpaid.

After a long, hot spell, it suddenly rained in the city thanks to a depression off the east coast. And then sparks began to fly – literally.

The lights in the area flickered each time the live wire, left negligently on the ground in the vacant site next to our house, “found its connection” in the pouring rain. The site has been cordoned off
by metal barriers and in the current situation (pun intended), if touched by some unsuspecting pedestrian, might have resulted in a trip to the hospital or, god forbid, the morgue. 

And so, I called up the utility service number for the locality and explained that there was an emergency and the situation was life-threatening. Now,  these linesmen know the area very well – there is a 40-year-old mammoth transformer on the same footpath which goes bust every other time it rains. The same people attend to the problem and get this ancient woolly mammoth transformer to work again and again.

Yet, the person who took the call insisted that he couldn’t place the site of the complaint as it was not under their jurisdiction, and would get back after a while. When the phone did ring later, I was surprised to hear the same questions about the location of the complaint, this time from the utility office of the neighbouring area. The conversation ended the same way – that the site did not come under their jurisdiction and that they would check and get back.

It was shocking that something as serious as a live wire, that packed enough charge to affect the lights in the surrounding areas, was treated with such indifference. The deadpan tone, the lackadaisical I-don’t-care attitude, despite repeated requests, raises the question – is jurisdiction more important than a citizen’s life? Is passing the buck more important than preventing an accident? It appears the words, ‘Customer Service’, really holds no meaning to these people.

The only prompt ‘service’ from the co­mpany is plucking out and chucking the fuse if the bill is not paid on time. Or may be the ‘service’ rendered by the linesmen, who come to fix the stone-age junction box with its impenetrable Amazon jungle of wires, is playing musical chairs to find out which ones connect to which house.

Yours truly has even been a mute witness to the same people using sticks to hold wires in place, and a victim of their carelessness when a super heavy gauge wire in the junction box led to the meter getting burned. No guesses for who paid for the repairs and for the new meter, and then ran a dozen times in the next four months to the customer service centre to ask for the meter to be registered.

Perhaps the mission statement of this company should read – We pass the buck. We wait and watch. We work by trial and error. And, maybe, they should rename those complaint centres as “Customer Disservice Centres”.

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