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September 02, 2011


Kristin Offiler

Great post. I agree with you-- National Grid is absolutely abysmal with customer service. We're in RI and got our power back Thursday. On Monday, I saw a NatGrid truck parked on my street. I drove by at noon and the worker was sitting in the driver's seat doing something with her phone. I thought, "Hmm. That's a good sign. At least they're down here." Then I drove by her again at 2:30. She was still in her truck. I drove by again at 4:30. Was she doing anything? Nope.

I finally pulled up next to her truck and asked when we would get power back. She gave me this bewildered look like I had just asked her to name all the presidents backwards and in Spanish.

"Oh, I don't know." She said.

"Ok. But will it be today? Tomorrow? I mean, what's the timeline we're looking at here."

A shrug. "Oh, I don't know..."

"Really? You have absolutely no idea when the power will be back on in this neighborhood?"

"No, I don't know."

I had to drive away before I blew a gasket.

This isn't the first run-in I've had with NatGrid. We moved into our house last August and were supposed to have our natural gas line installed in September. The natural gas was going to heat our house and run the stove, but in the meantime we had a propane tank that had enough gas to use for basic cooking needs for a couple of months.

So when September came and went with no NatGrid showing up to work on our line, I started calling. Almost daily. And every time I talk to someone, they knew less than the previous person I spoke to. There's no need pretending they have any customer service at all-- those phone calls were the biggest waste of my time.

I started calling more frequently in October and November. They would give me an "estimated" date of installation, then not show up. Then I would call to ask about it and I would be told they don't *give* estimated dates of installation. Even though they had-- three times.

Finally in December, when we were running 6 spaces heaters to warm our house (I work from home, so it wasn't like I could let the house sit cold all day. Plus we have pipes. Those things freeze.) I called and lost my sh*t when I was told that we might not get our natural gas line until APRIL. When I asked what they suggested we do about heat for the winter, I got a pathetic "you'd have to figure that out" response. When I asked if she could tell me when crews would be in my area or what their schedule was, she said, "We have no way to contact the crews. They go out to do jobs and we have no way to reach them and we don't keep records of their work."

So I said, "Are you kidding? So if there's a huge gas leak somewhere and you need all crews on scene ASAP, you have no way to reach them? None of them have cell phones and none of the trucks have radios?"

"Right. We have no way to reach them."

I screamed at her that I wanted the name and number of someone in my area who I could talk to who knew what they were talking about and wouldn't blatantly lie to me about something so ridiculous. I was given a manager's number, so I called and left him a message stating that my husband is a veteran and I had already contacted our senator's veteran rep (Jack Reed was awesome about getting in touch with us and actually trying to help), as well as all the local news channels and the ProJo. I lost it. I said that the way NatGrid had been handling customer service with us was absolutely awful. I threw out the veteran card, yes, but guess what-- it freaking worked.

He called me right back, said there would be a night crew there that evening, and by the next day (2 days before the first huge blizzard), we had our effing natural gas line.

In short, I hate National Grid with every fiber of my being and I wasn't surprised at how terrible their preparedness was with Irene. There's no competition, so what do they care if they do a crappy job and everyone hates them? What are we going to do-- switch to another company? No. Because there isn't one.

I'm planning to save enough money to get solar panels and a pellet stove for our house someone time the next few years. I want to be done with NatGrid entirely.

Sorry for the rant! I just totally related to your frustrations. I'm glad your family is all ok and your house is fine, but man-- it sucks that you had to spend so much money just to get work done :-/

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