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We’ll Be There Tomorrow — Maybe

October 27, 2007
By WAYNE SHEETS, Contributing Business Writer
    See if this story sounds familiar. Sometime during a stormy night on a Wednesday, the Internet service goes south. After waiting until mid-day Thursday, hoping the service would come back up on its own, a call is  made to the customer service number listed on the monthly statement. The woman who answered the call takes the information and says “please hold.” Then after listening to elevator music for what seems forever, she comes back on the line and says, “OK, I’ve verified the outage. Someone will be out there sometime tomorrow between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.” 

    She then asks whether or not there will be anyone home during those hours. She is told there will, and is given the telephone number. In hopes of gaining some small degree of freedom should something important come up that would take the homeowner away for a short time, she is given a cell phone number as well. She informs the caller that the technician can only make one call to inform the homeowner that they are on the way, and wants to know which number he (or she) should call. This, of course, negates any hope of leaving the premises so she’s told to call the house number.

    Around noon on Friday, no one has shown up so a call is made to the office to see if they have any idea when the technician might arrive. The homeowner is informed that “he will be there some time between now and 5 p.m. A few minutes after 5 p.m., another call is made and it is learned that the field workers sometimes work as late as 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. and that he might yet get to the residence. At 7 p.m., hunger pains sat in and the homeowners go to dinner, hang the Internet service.

    Around 10 a.m. the next day, quite unexpectedly and unannounced, a service vehicle shows up in the driveway.  Perhaps the technician has been told that he might be facing an irate customer; he is stoic and distant. A few minutes later, another service vehicle with the same logo on its sides pulls into the driveway.

    The homeowner says, “Yesterday, when promised, I couldn’t get anyone out here to fix my service; today I’ve got a driveway full of maintenance vehicles.” He gets no response.

    The technician goes about repairing the service and the homeowner goes about what he has to do. Eventually the service rep sticks his head in the door and says, “Everything should be working fine.” There is no parting of information as to why the service went south in the first place, but it doesn’t matter because the homeowner probably wouldn’t understand an explanation anyway. Then he’s off on another service call.

    We all realize that when a technician begins a day of service repairs he (or she) has no idea how long each service order on his schedule will take negating any possibility of being at a specific residence at a specified time. But is it too much to ask the courtesy of being called at the end of the day to let us know that their service personnel have gone home, relieving us of the expectations that someone might show up even as late as 8 p.m.? Are we beneath such courtesy? The cost of the service certainly should qualify us for some degree of consideration for our time, too.

    How may of us are in a state of shock about the forecast decline in the fortunes of our nation’s largest oil companies — Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips. According to analysts surveyed by Thompson Financial, profits for the Big Three’s quarter ending Sept. 30 will be down about 8.8 percent to $17.7 billion as compared to $19.4 billion for the same period last year. Think about that for a minute — these three companies are making money at a rate of about 55 percent or 60 percent per quarter of what the mess in Iraq is costing us. The latest statistics show that the war is costing us about $10 billion a month.

    Perhaps we should all turn our thermostats up two or three degrees over the course of the coming winter to help them out a little. Forecasters have already said that our home heating costs will rise to nearly $1,000 more this winter than last because of increased costs of natural and propane gas, and heating oil. By using a little more of their energy every day, we can spread the cost of helping the Big Three out of their dilemma over several months as opposed to making a one-time contribution, of say, another $1,000 or so.

    According to State Revenue Secretary Rob Alsop, West Virginia’s fiscal situation continues to be healthy. He reported to lawmakers two weeks ago that the state will end fiscal year 2008 with a surplus of nearly $64 million. About $43 million will be from excess tax collections, and $20 million will be from left over funds from the prior budget year. Tax revenues in fiscal year 2007 exceeded estimates by nearly $100 million. Alsop credited stronger-than-expected revenues from income taxes, the business franchise and cigarette taxes, and from interest on investments. He also noted that the state’s “rainy day” reserves stand at $566.2 million, or 14.8 percent of general revenue.

    Here’s a subject of interest to employers who are affected by BrickStreet Insurance. As everyone knows, BrickStreet is the privatized replacement for the old Workers Compensation Commission that was managed by state government, and under that structure ran up $3 billion in unfunded compensation claims. Now that it appears that the new system is working and $230 million a year is being applied toward the unfunded liabilities, our legislators are wanting back into the act. At a recent interim session, a panel of them agreed to try to create an oversight committee to govern the rules for the new system. This bears a close watch by all employers.

    Everyone who has driven by or under the newly reconstructed Roger McMahon Memorial Bridge this week has noticed the concrete abutments have suffered another attack of graffiti. It was suggested that mentioning this publicly might embolden those who perpetrate such acts of destruction because it brings attention to their acts of stupidity. Perhaps so, but I don’t think it would hurt to ask them not to do it.

    What sensations of enjoyment could these dastardly acts possibly bring to those who commit them? If you’re an adult, where is your respect for public property; if you’re a youngster, you should know that your parents helped pay for the structure you defaced. Would you be allowed to write such nonsense on the walls of your home?



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