20 March 2010

Our modern world

What could possibly go wrong, huh?

-- TEXAS -- More than 100 drivers in Austin, Texas found their cars disabled or the horns honking out of control, after an intruder ran amok in a web-based vehicle-immobilization system normally used to get the attention of consumers delinquent in their auto payments.
Always a few bugs in the system, I guess.
Police with Austin’s High Tech Crime Unit on Wednesday arrested 20-year-old Omar Ramos-Lopez, a former Texas Auto Center employee who was laid off last month, and allegedly sought revenge by bricking the cars sold from the dealership’s four Austin-area lots.
Say... anybody else got one of Dalton McSlippery's smart electric meters?

Be interesting to see what happens when they upgrade the firmware, or roll out the energy-saving apps everyone was gassing about.


Anonymous said...

Yup, I've got one of Dalton's smart meters. And I'm currently trying to get somebody at Hydro One to understand that they've messed up really badly. In fact, I'm almost at the point of telling them to take their meter and shove it where the sun don't shine...
My story... I'm the treasurer for a club in northwest Ontario. We have a clubhouse that was built around 1948. It's located about 8km from town and it's pretty much only used during the summer. Private property, locked up when not in use. Our "smart meter" was installed in the fall of 2008. Since it was installed, we've used 103 kw. Total. The meter reads 00103. Last January I got a bill from Hydro One asking for $293.61 for the month of December/09. I got on the phone and asked them to go read our meter because there was an obvious error. The person I talked to said it would be looked into. Okay...
Feb. 19, I got another bill for the month of January/10. Asking for $339.31. I went out the clubhouse and took a picture of the meter. It still showed 00103 kw, which I had expected, because the clubhouse was locked up for the winter...
I got on the phone, talked to another drone, and got told "Oh no, don't worry, we've investigated and have sent out a corrected bill". So I waited till I got the new bill.
Dated Feb 26, 2010. It showed an adjustment. Here's where it got really funny. This is what's shown on the bill...

31 Oct 08 to 30 Apr 09 ... 29 KWH @ 5.6 cents for a cost of $1.62
01 May 09 to 31 Oct 09 ... 30 KWH @ 5.7 cents for a cost of $1.74
01 Nov 09 to 01 Feb 10 ... 17 KWH @ 5.8 cents for a cost of $0.99

Delivery charge $543.36
Regulatory charge $4.34
Debt Retirement Charge $0.55
GST $27.65

Total Electricity Charge (from Oct/08 to Feb/10) $580.25

Miscellaneous Adjustment $1368.91 CR
Credit for late payment charge $1.96 CR

Total Adjustments $1370.87 Credit

Now flipping over to the other side of the bill, right at the top, where it says "here's what you owe"...

Balance forward that is past due $340.39
Your new charges $580.25
Adjustments $1370.87 CR
Total Credit in your account $450.23

Does everybody see the problem with this bill? As in, we used zero electricity in January, Hydro One says we used 99 cents worth of electricity from Nov/09 to Feb/10, and they charged the "past due" amount of $340.39. Duh!

And when I called and asked about that error, I got told "no, everything is correct now, we've credited you with $1370.87 and charged you with the delivery charges."
I asked to speak with a supervisor that could do basic arithmetic.
I'm still waiting for a call back.

Neo Conservative said...

"anon says... we've credited you with $1370.87"

yeah... "smart meters"... from the same folks who brought you the ehealth & olg scandals.

i've gotten to the point where, before i sit down & try to hassle stuff out over the phone... i get a pencil & notepad and log the whole conversation.

you'd also be surprised how much less attitude you get when you start the conversation with... "can i please have your name & job title before we get down to dealing with the nitty-gritty here?"

in addition, after reaching some sort of agreement, i usually ask for a confirmatory fax or email. i don't always get it, but the cube-bot or snivel-servant at the other end of the line usually gets the unmistakable message about exactly who they're dealing with.

my take on this is... the more complicated a procedure or mechanism is... the more costly esoteric things can go wrong with it.


Anonymous said...

Neo, I have a really simple system for taking notes during a telephone conversation. I have a cassette tape recorder hooked up to the phone line using a radioshack telephone switch. Pick up the phone and the recorder starts. Hang up and the recorder stops. Just have to make sure the tape doesn't run out halfway through the conversation...
Amazing how people can change their story when challenged with their own words.

Neo Conservative said...

"anon says... I have a cassette tape recorder hooked up to the phone line using a radioshack telephone switch"

perfect. saves wear & tear on the ol' writing hand.

guess you could hook up your 'puter or ipod in a similar fashion... email the offending party's boss with an mp3 file.

gotta say... i love it.