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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Progress Energy: Monopoly at it's Finest

Like you, I heard the commercials for LifeLock. You know the one I'm talking about? The owner always recites his social security number in an attempt to prove that he's completely safe from identity theft.

Since it sounded like a good idea to me, I signed up for it in December of last year.

I didn't really notice much of a difference. They sent me periodic credit notices, and that was about it.

But when I needed power to be temporarily turned on in my rental trailer, I called Progress Energy so that I could do as I'd done before, and just add the temporary turn-on to my home bill.

That was when I found out that it would take them 48 hours to call me back to verify that I was who I said I was before they could turn on the power there. I could hardly believe it!

I asked if I could merely show up in person, show them my driver's license, and give a blood sample. They told me no - their company policy was set in stone, and there were no exceptions.

I spoke to the customer service rep, then her supervisor, and was informed that there would be no exceptions. When I asked to speak to the supervisor's supervisor, I was told rather snottily that they wouldn't make any exceptions either.

How nice to be a monopolistic business: Vive le Roi!

I checked with LifeLock, who assures me that it hardly takes 48 hours - all Progress Energy needs to do is call the number listed that came up when they tried to pull my 'soft' credit report. (Aside note: Why do they feel the need to pull my credit at all when I've been a customer for many years, and they do a direct debit?!)

However, Progress Energy's empoloyees are sitting pretty. Like most government employees, they don't need to work any harder than they want to.

Must be nice.

I finally did speak to the supervisor's supervisor who attempted to intervene. I guess she was paid enough to work a little harder than the others, who apparently see themselves as just marking time on the job. She was unable to do anything to change the corporate policy, but she handled it better.

What does it say when a company's customer service deparment refuses to service the customer unless forced to?

And... how do I sign up for that gig?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

FYI, the guy who has his social security number up on the commercial has had quite a few identity theft cases as a result of that idiotic advertising. I suggest canceling your service and just monitoring your credit reports.

Ange

doozie said...

I've never heard of this particular service so this was interesting. I'm not sure any of us can ever protect ourselves fully against the devious schemes of people who are intent on doing us harm

M@ said...

That's why I left the federal government. Ugh.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

You're having a bad run at the mo.

krok09 said...

Saur,

Are you on Crack honey? This piece is full of grammatical errors and misspellings. This is not like you. I have a strong urge to spank your bare bottom.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Krokogator, You're right - there were two spelling errors: Teach me not to proofread and just dash off a post! ;o)

What's cookin?

Daniel, well... it's been interesting. But, the upside is that there's never a dull moment!

m@, Great retirement bennies, though!

Doozie, you and I have learned that the hard way. And I think of The Manson Family and how they were determined enough to kill a lot of people, no matter how famous or secure they were. As you say, someone truly determined will usually get away with it (though not always, of course).

Ange, funny! I looked it up and you were right! I was wondering how the heck he could be so sure of it. Of course as some people have pointed out, there have been something like 800 attempts and only 1 success, so overall the service was working and the guarantee of protection would be valid. Still... I wouldn't want that to haunt me forever, as it will always follow HIM.

Anonymous said...

Actually I think there were three different cases in which people were successful in using his social for different things. I think the article I read on it was on CNN as that tends to be one of my usual haunts.

Also our electric company sucks too, I hate them, they charge a $250 deposit that is not refundable for two years, that seems so outrageous to me. No ifs, ands or buts and no way around it, aggravated the heck out of me when I went to sign up, I kept putting it off because I just didn't want to give them my money.

Ange

daveawayfromhome said...

In Texas, we got rid of our monopolistic electric service, with the promise of better service and lower rates. The result? Rates half again to almost double that of the surrounding states, and the same lousy service as before.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Working for the government is great. Depending on the agency you work for. I worked for DHS. I had to show up on time and actually get things done every day.

But the supervisors tended to be retarded. Go figure.

The place was also horribly managed. The only reason why anything got done was due to the people of the lowest rank.

I want to work for Bureau of Indian Affairs. Since the Indians quit shooting people with arrows, that agency has not really had to do very much at all. It would not really mattered if I went to work on time or if at all. Nobody would notice!

I could take a vacation anytime I wanted by just putting a life size full color cardboard cutout of myself at my desk.

Anyhow Ill trade you Progress Energy for Florida Plunder And Loot.

Anonymous said...

I live in Florida and have had a lot of issues with Progress Energy. At some point one of their customer service people even suggested that may be I should discontinue my service if I'm not too happy with it!!! These guys have no competition and clearly take advantage of that. Just look at the accepted forms of payment...$6 service charge for credit card payments is just unheard of!

Jen said...

Progress Sucks!

I have never had a late payment in 4 years. Last month's bill was only $72.85. I have a $140 deposit on the account for 4 years. My payment is late by less than 2 weeks, no notice and this morning, no power.

Payment made for late and current charges 8 hours ago and still no power!!!

Ms Norma said...

Saur, Progress energy Florida doesn't care about peoples woes. They don't care if you have lost your job, home and car. If your bread winner died or left you. It is not their responsibility to care. The employees are trained with a no reason policy. In other words your reason doesn't matter to the utility company as a whole. They will extend to you a payment arrangement. If you fail to keep the arrangement you are at fault.
They will give you number's to help lines who have already exhausted their funds because their are many many people in our same kind of boat. This is the capitalist way. So just sit back and enjoy the abuse. Right?

Anonymous said...

Progress Energy is a monopoly! They are HORRIBLE!!! They are frustrating, hard to deal with and hit you with all types of fees. Why? Because they CAN! You don’t have a choice so they really don’t give a d@*m! We moved to Wilmington, NC from Columbia, SC. All of the other utilities took a letter of good credit from our previous companies and set services right up. Despite 6 yrs of excellent payment to SCE&G (not even one late fee in 6yrs) Progress still demanded $220. dollars up front. Which when you are in the middle of a move is just one more friggin drain on your already stretched thin finances. I spoke to several customer service rep's who were rude and they all refused to even look at the letter from SCE&G. THEN, the next bill hit us with a $17.00 “new account service charge” What total b.s.! When I called to discuss the fee it was immediately clear they would not budge. When I asked what other hidden fees they were planning on hitting me with next the rep. responded, “we don’t have any hidden fees.” I guess she meant other then the ones they already charged without informing me about….

Anonymous said...

Progress Energy is a bunch of belligerent jerks. They screw up the repairs on their nuclear plant and expect us to pay for it.
On top of that they screw us with charges for a new nuclear plant which won't be completed
until 2020! The ignore clean natural gas which is far cheaper and could be constructed in a couple of
years. They have the legislature in their pocket and can do exactly what they choose.