"In many disciplines, for the majority of graduates, the Ph.D. indicates the logical conclusion of an academic career." Marc Bousquet

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Power Company Blues (Or, a Mystery Concerning Electricity)

I shouldn't be thinking about this on a Saturday since it is work related, but the ongoing billing dispute we've had with the power company -- complicated by crazy and frivolous landlords, the elderly and slightly senile dance teacher who has access to the meters, and the slightly shady chiropractor across the hall who, quite plausibly, has been stealing electricity from other tenants -- has reached the limits of everyone's patience. We've either got to resolve it soon or move to a new office.

Which would be terrible because A) moving sucks generally, B) I like our current office, and C) this is the dumbest reason ever to move. We should be able to resolve our dispute.

But -- I don't know -- I think we might need Nancy Drew or something. Here are the facts:
  • Power Company has been overcharging Think Tank for over a year, since Think Tank moved in. My predecessor finally got them to refund about $5,000 right around the time I started, but then, after a month or two, they started overcharging us again. By a lot.
  • It's hard to agree on what they should be charging us because access to the meters is restricted. They are located in another tenant's space (slightly senile dance teacher), who is never there during normal business hours. Power Company comes to read the meters, but they can't get in and so they estimate. But the estimates are all over the map (literally, ranging from $16.66 to $1,414.87) and seem to have no basis in what you'd expect reality to be (we expect our actual bill should be between $200 and $300 per month).
  • Slightly Senile Dance Teacher, whom I finally met in person the other day, is upset because her power bills have doubled within the last year and she doesn't know why. You'd think this would prompt her to be available to let Power Company do the readings. But no. They only get in every couple months. Do her bills say that her usage has increased, even if she hasn't done anything differently? Not sure. She has to check her bills. Even weirder thing, though, is that her bills aren't all over the place like ours, just consistently about double what they used to be.
  • She tells me, too, although I haven't verified it, that at least one of the other tenants has had increased bills without an increase in usage, and has had an ongoing dispute with Power Company.
  • As if all this weren't bad enough, Shady Chiropractor moved in right around the time everything started. Shady Chiropractor has a state-of-the-art video x-ray machine, which probably makes his electricity consumption per month greater than anyone else's in the building. Yet Shady Chiropractor has never been billed more than the minimum charge of $16.66. Shady Chiropractor is very handy with tools, too. And, Shady Chiropractor has keys to Senile Dance Teacher's studio. Why? Because he asked the landlords for them.
  • Senile Dance Teacher is not happy about this and is not too senile not to start connecting the dots. Not sure why she permitted it in the first place.
  • The landlords are no help whatsoever. They are silly, frivolous creatures who inherited the property and do not take their responsibilities to their tenants seriously. Moreover, tenants are welcome to do whatever they please to their spaces and the common areas, as long as they pay their rent.
And let's not even talk about the unidentified troll with what I think is an AV business who moved into the sub-basement around the same time Shady Chiropractor moved in upstairs. They're pals, I think.

Fun, huh? You'd think a think tank would be able to think its way out of this.

What would you do?

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