Sunday, December 18, 2005

Those Sneaky Utility Companies!

Sometime in 2003 we stopped using the gas at this place. This decision was made because I had re-run the existing lines inside the place so that I wouldn't get a bump on the head fumbling around in the basement. The main line from one of the two gas meters ran across one of the rooms in the basement at head height requiring me to duck as I passed through the room. I moved some lines and ran lines to areas of the house that had never seen a gas line in case I would need to install a furnace or a gas dryer at a later date. I tidied up the lines in the basement quite a bit and made one of the meters obsolete. At that time I had the meter removed leaving me with just one.

Well, after this I never ran a furnace again and we have yet to use the stove. I still have to buy a water heater and we have decided to get one of the "on demand" type that mounts to the basement wall. I don't need to get one until we are actually ready to live here so we have no need for the gas service.
For the longest time our monthly gas bill was $4.00 until this year when Vectren jacked up the billing to $7.00. So, we pay $7.00 a month for something we don't use but have the option to use if we want to or install the correct equipment.

Every so often for the last two years, Vectren would leave us notes saying that they need inside the house to test for gas leaks before the meter. Since our meter was inside the house, they needed access to check for leaks. Their note indicated that this was a federal requirement but I question its integrety because I have NEVER received a note at the house where we actually live and pay for the actual use of gas. This house is a mere 3 blocks away.

I never called Vectren for an appointment because I couldn't ever guarantee that I could be at the house at any particular time. Besides, I was suspicious of their real desire to get in the house. I suspected that they wanted to see if I had tampered with the meter. Whenever I saw the so called "sniffer" person they were leaving notes on the doors of houses that were vacant and never actually trying to get into occupied houses where people paid more than $7.00 a month for gas.
They finally called us on the phone. The "boy" who called asked for Deborah. The conversation went something like this;

Boy; "This is Vectren. We need to get inside your house to test for gas leaks."

Me; "You've never done this before."

Boy; "It's a new law that has only been around for the last two years. We need to go into your house and we have a device that detects gas. It will take us about 20 seconds."

Me; "I have lived here since 1994 and have NEVER had you contact me about this." (Now, you have to understand, I am at the residence thinking that they want into this house.)

Boy; "You are where, 114? Where are you?"

Me; " I'm not telling you where I am. This sounds like a suspicious phone call. Thank you. Good Bye!"

Five minutes later I'm sitting on the porcelain throne when the light bulb in my head goes off and I realize that they want into the "Crackhouse". Two days later we get a letter in the mail with an ultimate threat to discontinue service if we fail to comply.
We set up an appointment for Saturday afternoon. Even though it is up to 36 degrees on the first floor I was sure that there was some work that I could do while I wait for the gas "sniffer" to show up. Since it was Saturday, I was sure they would be there early so that they could get home early.

I was right, they showed up by 12:45. The woman came in with a flash light, went down to the room in the basement. Shined the light on the meter and gave the gas lines a good look over then said "I'm done. My sniffer didn't go off in your yard." Then she left. She didn't have a "sniffer" in her hands. Things that make you go "Hmmmm".

Speaking of gas. I wonder if my neighbor with the flooded basement (still no sign of him) has his gas turned off?


Anonymous said...

Boy, I'd be asking for the details on that "law".

Ms. P in Jackson said...