Thursday, April 26, 2007

More Sleazy Ameren Tricks? Update.

UPDATE: Ameren called me this morning and are trying to find out why my bill was identical two months in a row, and to assure me that the numbers were not made up but do seem quite odd. They're investigating and I will post the result.

UPDATE: This is entirely my fault. I, for whatever reason, got a duplo copy of the bill. Ameren was extremely helpful in solving the problem and ensuring I didn't play the same bill twice.

I remain a little bit troubled by the fact that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, even though I know that's how the universe works. Calling customer service was an exercise in frustration, and I admit I just dropped it because I had other things to do, and then forgot about it. Had I been more persistent about it, I probably would have eventually gotten it solved. So I appreciate Ameren stepping up to try to solve my problem once I blogged about it, but I have to wish that being one of the regular people calling customer service in the first place had been fruitful and simple.

That isn't just a complaint about Ameren, because as I know you all know, virtually every call center for every product and service in the entire United States is maddeningly frustrating to deal with and entails endless minutes on hold, being dropped when being "transferred" by a rep who doesn't want to deal with you, or never being able to get through at all! (I tried to call the TSA with a question about carry-on luggage after I tried their website, then e-mailed, and then got told "call this number." Waited close to an hour before I gave up and decided I didn't want to carry anything on THAT badly.)

I know the purpose of publicity, from local newspapers, or sites like Consumerist, or blogs, or calling your Congresscritter, is to shine enough light on the problem to get it solved -- to squeak loud enough that someone will apply grease. But it would be a much nicer world, with much happier customers, if call center employees were trained and empowered to actually SOLVE customer problems instead of being asked to shovel through a call every seven minute (Sprint), or hanging up on you every time you call (BofA, every time I call. We've decided it's easier to close the account than fix the very simple problem), or upselling you rather than helping you (AOL, notoriously).

C'est la vie in the 21st century, I suppose.

I meant to write about this last month but forgot until this month's bill came. My February and March bills listed as follows:

Feb. Mar.
405 405 kWh
122 122 Therms

Each had the code "A" which stands for "A = Actual reading used to calculate bill."

Now, leaving aside that I did not actually see a meter reader either month (and I work from home, on the side of the house with the meter, so they usually scare me to death popping up in my window), because it's possible I was away both months when they happened to come by --

What are the odds that two months with such different weather (February averaged 27*F; March averaged 57*F), and one of which included the DST shift halfway through, would have exactly the same usage of BOTH electricity AND gas?

I mean, seriously, Ameren, if you're going to just make up numbers, either be honest and label it "E = Estimated reading used to calculate bill" or don't make up the same numbers two months in a row!

(Or, third option, you better check on what, exactly, your meter readers are doing. And you can bet I'm checking my bill against my meter EVERY MONTH now!)


Anonymous said...

What Peoria doesn't have an IP based Electric meter system?

Chef Kevin said...

Another bit o' sleaze? Have you seen those billboards? Ever type that into your browser. You should. guess who is the co-promoter of that site? Our good friends at Ameren who are "going bankrupt" But they can afford Billboards.....

kohlrabi said...

How is it entirely your fault that you got a duplicate bill?