So, I ran into a bit of a kerfuffle of sorts with both UPS and ConEd this week. I was going to call them on Monday, but that just didn't happen. Tuesday I was in an oddly good and productive mood (which almost never happen at the same time), so I took advantage of the situation and decided to handle these problems right then.
The issue with UPS actually didn't start officially until after I made this call. I ordered a pair of boots that, SHOCKER, didn't fit around my calves. I needed to send them back, and after reading the return instructions, it just said that the $8 shipping fee would be deducted from my refund. Cool. So I just needed UPS to come and pick up the package. I tried to schedule a pick-up online, but it kept saying that a $9 fee would be charged for this package. To which I said "no, no, UPS. My shipping fee is already paid for and taken care of thanks to pre-printed labeling!". So I call and try to go through their automated system, which is telling me the same thing. So I ask to be connected to a rep who tells me, for the 3rd time. that it will cost $9. So I tell her "No, the shipping charge is already paid for." to which she tells me this:
"The shipping charge is already handled. But there is a $9 fee associated with package pick-up at a location."
So let me get this straight. It's $8 for shipping, but $9 for package pick up? So it costs more to have UPS scoop up the package using a local driver than it does to have them actually deliver it across the country? How is that possible? And I ask her "Isn't procuring the package a major part of the actual shipping process? Shouldn't that be included?"
"No, Ma'am. You have some free options, though."
"Oh. Well good. What are those?"
"Well, you can bring it to a UPS location close to you. Or, you can flag down a truck and hand it to the driver."
"Yeah, I don't think I'll be standing on a corner flagging down UPS men today or, like, ever. Thanks anyway for that. Where are there locations for me to drop off near my home, please?"
"There's one at 1623 3rd Avenue"
Now maybe this is just a city thing. I don't know numbers. I don't know where the 1600 block of 3rd avenue is. I need cross streets.
"What are the cross streets for that location?"
"It's right around the corner from your house, Ma'am."
"Well... 3rd avenue is 2 blocks uphill from my apartment, so it's not EXACTLY right around the corner. So I need the cross streets, please?"
"Is 1st Avenue closer to you?"
"Well... 1st Avenue runs the entire length of Manhattan, so... it might be, but... I still need the cross streets."
"OK, for the 1st Avenue location, starting at your apartment you would turn right on York Avenue, right on 81st Street and it will be between York Avenue and 1st Avenue."
"So it's on 1st Avenue and 81st street? OK.... how about the 3rd avenue location?"
"Starting at your apartment you would turn right on York Avenue, right on 86th Street, right on 1st Avenue, left on 89th Street and right onto 3rd Avenue."
"So it's on 3rd Avenue between 89th and 90th? OK great, thanks... I didn't actually need the driving directions..."
"OK. Anything else?"
"Nope." I've already gotten all the useless information I can stand for one day, thanks!
So, situation sort of handled. I"ll be dropping the package off at their 89th and 3rd location after work...
I mean, ConEd is basically always a problem. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before how my electric bill for a 1 bedroom apartment in Queens was about $300/month. Absolutely crazy. Anyway, our bills over the summer have been completely reasonable, and I was pretty excited about it! (By reasonable, I mean about $50/month for electric alone.) So when I received our September bill and it was over $100, it sort of threw me. We were out of regular air conditioning weather, so one would think it could only go down. But then I realized we had also been in the apartment more in September, so maybe it wouldn't go down. But it certainly wouldn't double! So I called and asked what the deal was.
I was informed that my meter wasn't working, and that they had switched it out and adjusted our bill accordingly.
OK, no problem. We paid it in full.
Last week I received a letter stating that due to indicator lights on our meter, we had not been properly billed for our usage. The meter had been switched out, and here you go! It's a nice little breakdown of how much we are going to charge you for unmetered usage over the last 4 months. KTHXBYE!
Hold the phone.
That says $188.95! I'm not giving them $200! That's nutso!
So I called ConEd. I explain that we had paid all of our bills, including the adjusted September bill, in full, and wasn't sure why I was being billed an additional $188.95.
So the lady on the other end says to me, "So, what had happened was........." And I knew right there that this was gonna be good! All I had to do was keep my calm and enjoy the ride.
".... on August 22nd, our meter readers realized that there were indicator lights on your meter that meant that the meter wasn't correctly reading the usage for the apartment. So on September 7th we changed out the meter, and adjusted your September bill. Now we are going through and adjusting previous bills that were effected by the incorrect readings."
"But, then why am I being adjusted so far back if it only became a problem in August? I see that I had an actual reading at the end of June, an estimated reading at the end of July and an actual reading at the end of August."
"Well, we don't know when it became a problem. Our meter readers only noticed in in August."
"So, it could have been broken for years, or just a couple days, but you're going to charge me $188.95 to cover potentially wrong readings back through my move-in date? I'm sorry, but I'm not comfortable handing over $200 for charges that you aren't positive I owe."
"Well, we just took daily readings and applied it to your previous bills, crediting you for what you already paid."
"But you aren't sure that those readings weren't already correct?"
"Well, we're pretty sure they aren't."
"Well, OK. I'm not saying that we don't owe you anything extra at all. And I know that you have a business to run and that you probably weren't paid for the amount of service you provided. But I'm not really sure how it is my responsibility to pay for your meters not being maintained properly, for your meter readers not noticing indicator lights for, what you are assuming was, a couple of months, and for you not billing me correctly."
"Well, it wasn't just you. This effected several of your neighbors and they were billed as well."
This is what we call "not helping your case".
"I'm not saying that you are singling me out. And if they want to go ahead and pay the adjustments you sent them, that's totally fine. However, I need to be sure that's what I owe before I hand it over. So if you can prove to me that that was what I used, I'll pay it."
"What makes you think it's not what you owe?"
"My roommate and I were barely around over the summer. Between working, being away on the weekends, going on vacations, etc. we didn't have the A/C running much, or the lights on, or the TV on. All appliances were unplugged, computers traveled with us so those weren't plugged in. There just wasn't much usage. And in September we were at the apartment more. So our average daily usage in September was much higher than our average daily usage in July."
"Well even if you weren't there, there's still going to be a bill. Do you have proof that you weren't at the apartment?"
I should have just forwarded her the link to this blog, but instead I said:
"I do have receipts and tickets from buses and trains and flights and hotels, but I don't think that's my responsibility either. I am paying you for a service. Rather than my proving I DIDN'T use it, I think it's your job and responsibility to prove that I DID use your service. Unfortunately, the bill you sent me is unmetered
"usage", so I don't know how you'll prove that I used any of that. If you can, though, I'd be more than happy to send you a check right away."
...."I'll review your account and get back to you."
Ladies and Gentlemen, I call that a win. I read the law that they said they were operating legally under. While they didn't do anything ILLEGAL, and the law does state that they can adjust any bill for up to a year, it doesn't say it can be adjusted for some number they are basically pulling out of the air and have no proof of. If that's the case, then I'd like to "adjust" my bills in Queens and demand a refund for the last year of my lease down to $100/month rather than $300 or $400... just... because. It was OVER metered service, is what that was. I feel if you can charge me for UNmetered usage, I can demand a refund for OVER metered usage. Yup, seems fair to me!
I'll keep you updated on all that. But if you are thinking about moving to NYC... beware of ConEd, and be sure you get into a place that has gas cooking, and pays for gas, heat and hot water. Because otherwise, you are SCREWED.
Just a couple of housekeeping things.
I totally forgot to wish Papa a VERY happy 90th birthday on October 17th! I was able to celebrate with him and my family on the 16th. But 90 years old deserves being blogged about!
Congratulations to Joanne Haake on her nuptial to Ralph on October 15th, 2011 and for letting me be there to celebrate!
And official announcement:
Somewhere round about March 22nd, 2011 I will become an Anutie again! My sister Jeannine is expecting, and that's news that I have been holding in since July! Feels great to be able to tell everybody, since this blog is evidence of my not keeping quiet about much...