Ordinarily, UPS is rock solid reliable but this is the Christmas season when package loads increase and the parcel service brings in extra drivers to handle the volume.
One of them, assigned to deliver in Floyd County, got lost Tuesday and went back to Roanoke is many packages undelivered.
One of those packages should have come to Chateau Thompson, where UPS delivers 15-20 packages a month. On Monday, I ordered some urgently needed photo and video supplies from B & H Photo in New York and paid the premium to have them shipped overnight.
By 6 p.m. the package had not arrived so I checked the tracking number on the UPS web site and found this message:
A CORRECT STREET NUMBER IS NEEDED FOR DELIVERY. UPS IS ATTEMPTING TO OBTAIN THIS INFORMATION
Obviously, they were trying to contact me via pony express because no phone call came into either home or office or via email. The message was posted at 6:09 p.m. I called at 6:30 and, after several frustrating attempts to get through their voice prompt system, finally reached a live person.
Or so it seemed.
"The driver couldn't find a street number where you live," he said. "You need to have an identifying number out in front of your house."
Identifying number? We have three of them: The number on the mailbox in front of the house, a sign that points to our number and the number of the only other house on our lane and a lighted number sign at the entrance to the driveway.
Perhaps, I suggested in a lower tone of voice that indicates seething anger, the driver got lost?
"Oh I doubt that sir but I will contact the regional center (in Roanoke) and have them call you within the hour."
Ninety minutes later and still no call back. So I called back. A bored sounding woman said the regional center was now closed and she would have someone call me in the morning.
"Unacceptable," I said. "Let me speak to your supervisor."
She tried four times to say her supervisor was not available and would call me back before she finally understood that I would not accept that brush off and would not hang up until a supervisor came on the line. When the supervisor finally got on the line I explained in an escalating volume that I was sick of being jerked around by UPS and wanted an answer tonight on where the package was and just when they expected to deliver it. She promised to check into it and call me back in thirty minues. In five minutes she was back on the line, having reached someone in Roanoke who admitted that, yes, they had a temporary driver on the Floyd route Tuesday and, yes, he got lost and that, yes, there were a lot of angry customers like me who didn't get the delivery they expected.
After multiple apologies and a promise of a full refund of my shipping charges, UPS promised to deliver the package first thing Wednesday morning to our studio in Floyd.
Let's see if they can deliver on their promise this time around.
UPDATE: 3:17 p.m. Package arrived. Not exactly "first thing Wednesday morning" but at least it is finally here.…
Out checking the house and surrounding grounds for damage from the winds when I heard the generator shut down.
Mr first thought: A problem? Nope. AEP restored power to Chateau Thompson at 9:02 a.m. -- almost 30 hours to the minute from the time we lost it in the wee hours of Sunday mornings.
Thirty hours of continous running of the Guardian generator means I will need to change the oil and filter. Generac recommends changes after 200 hours total use or 24 hours or more of continuous use.
Once again, installation of an automatic standby generator proved to be the wisest investment we made when purchasing the house in December of 2004. It has kept us warm, toasty and lit through nine power outages in the past three years -- including four this year alone.
Our thanks to the men and women who get out in this frigid weather to get grouchy customers like me back online.
And a great big raspberry to the nimwits in the corporate suites at AEP who hurt the hard work of the linemen by putting the greed of stockholders ahead of the needs of customers.…
For nearly 24 hours, we have depended on the web site of Appalachian Power to keep us up-to-date on the status of power outages in Floyd County and other parts of Southwestern Virginia.
According to the Flash-powered update chart, no homes in Floyd were without power by 1 a.m. today -- which came as a surprise to us and other homes along Sandy Flats Road SE where houses remained cold and dark and our remained powered by a generator.
So were tried a more traditional form of communication -- telephone.
So sorry, the not-so-sorrowful woman on the other end of the line said. Power won't be restored to our part of the county until 4 p.m -- at least 36 hours after it went out in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
When Amy pointed out that the company's web site said all power had been restored to Floyd County her comment was a less-than-sympathetic "oh, we haven't updated that in a while."
So why have the service if they are not going to be honest with it? Why give customers a false sense of security by using the web site to claim something that is not true?
The answer is easy. AEP has a long record of lying to its customers. We're heard their lies in the all too often during the 100-plus hours of outages suffered so far this year. We've heard their pathetic excuses when they tried to raise rates without approval and had to refund those increased charges for erratic electric service and lousy customer relations.
AEP proves the old Mark Twain adage that there are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies and statistics. AEP uses all three.
UPDATE: At 7 a.m., AEP's web site claims 778 customers in Floyd County are without power, along with 2,549 in the region. Is that accurate? Your guess is is good as ours.…
Friday's drenching rain brought much-needed relief to the parched areas of Floyd County...and maximum damage to the driveway of Chateau Thompson.
We weren't alone. Washed out driveways abound near us on Sandy Flats Road and we noticed a number of gutted ones along Route 8 while en route to Christiansburg late Friday afternoon.
The rain washed out the home opener for Floyd County High School's varsity football team Friday night. The game will be played tonight. It also means damp conditions for the county's fair and harvest festival.
If the rain holds off for the next few days I might have time to retreive the DR PowerGrader from the shed and fill in the many ruts and valleys that now mark the entrance to our home.
Then it will be smooth again.
Until the next deluge…
Our Guardian automatic generator is humming away at the rear of the house, providing the electric power that that we lost this morning to the increasingly inefficient and unreliable Appalachian Power Company.
Power blinked on and off a half dozen times Friday night and early Saturday morning before finally going out for good at 11:45 a.m. Thankfully, our generator kicked in automatically and restored power so that I could get into the shower to prepare for a wedding this afternoon.
Tried to report the outage via their web site but kept getting a "processing error." Tried reporting it via their "automated outage reporting system" via phone but it wouldn't work. Finally, after going through six or seven layers of voice mail menus I got a bored customer service rep who promised to log the report.
AEP is a supremely arrogant mega-nopolopy that preys on its customers while demanding insanely high electric rate increases at the same time the company reports record profits. To make matters worse, power outages are increasing throughout the region and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the outages aren't planned to bolster the company's case for rate increases. Virginia forced them to return a major part of an obscene rate hike that they put into place before it was approved -- just another glaring example of the company's arrogance and disregard for its customers.
Like too many public utility monopolies, AEP executives only care about "return to the investor." They never have given a damn about their customers and probably never will.
UPDATE: Power returned at 4:26 p.m. Saturday. No explanation for the four hours of outage, no follow up phone call to customers. When we lived in Northern Virginia, Dominion Power always followed up with phone calls to customers to explain outages. Same for Union Electric when we lived in the St. Louis metro area. It's called customer service -- a concept that appears beyond the grasp of AEP.…
Many things keep me from ever wanting to cast a vote for a Republican candidate for office but the most disgusting are the party's unrelenting, unabashed homophobia and its inflexible belief that Christianity is the world's only religion.
And this disgust comes from someone who, during a foray to the dark side of politics, worked for three GOP members of Congress and helped elect several more.
The party's absolute intolerance towards gays surfaced in Floyd this week when the party of the elephant brought their slate of candidates for delegate and state senator to town and joined local candidates on the lawn of the county courthouse.
After rain chased the dog and pony show into the dryness of the circuit courtroom (and as a county resident I have to question the use of the courtroom for a political gathering), the candidates finished their spiel and then took questions. There was only one: asking each candidate to take a stand on gay marriage and prayer at public meetings.…
You know you're in trouble when the doctor ends every sentence with "for your age."
The broken left foot, suffered on the opening day of FloydFest and ignored because I thought I was walking around on a sprain, is taking longer than I would like to heal but the doc says it's healing on a schedule "that's expected for someone of your age."
Which means slowly.…