Deregulation and Why It Sucks……
Posted by thedarwinexception on December 25, 2007
So, just to let you know. I am now going to support zombie lady in her boycott of National Grid and I am going to protest loudly and long and have them shut off my electricity.
OK – maybe I won’t have them actually shut off my electricity – but I shall protest loud and long, and I shall rant and rave, and support zombie lady in spirit. Because someone at National Grid needs to pay. They need to pay big time.
The story begins with some sort of “deregulation” by the state of New York – whom I shall also protest against loudly and long. Or, more specifically, the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC). Recently, the PSC opened up the market. All customers of NY State utility companies can now “choose their provider.” What does this mean? This means that by some hocus pocus and general wizardry, I can “choose” my electric company to be some fucking company out of Alabama. My local company will still bill me, and service my account, but I’ll get the rates as provided by the Alabama company. To the PSC this constitutes “opening up the market”.
So what does this mean to me and why am I protesting loudly and long? I mean, deregulation is a good thing, right? Competition in the marketplace is a good thing, right? This stops all that whining and birching people do when they wring their hands and say “Oh, that god damned electric company – they can do whatever the hell they want – they are a monopoly!”
Well, by “opening up the market” and by “allowing customers to choose their providers”, the PSC has also opened the fucking floodgates of every fucking electricity company in the United States calling my house to give me their god damned sales pitch. And these people don’t take no for an answer, either. When you try to politely tell them “No, I don’t *WANT* to switch providers”, they tell you “Didn’t you get the notice in your bill? National Grid WANTS you to switch – they are endorsing your switch to a new company – and we are offering incentives in the form of X amount off for the first X months.” (They are *all* running some kind of “sale” on electricity when you switch to their company.)
And the worst part of it?? All of these companies are working from some sort of telemarketing center over in New Delhi somewhere – because NONE of the people who call speak English. I couldn’t even understand the first dozen or so that called – I really thought that National Grid was like going out of business or something because these people seemed to be saying that I had to choose a new provider immediately, that their incentives were only going to last so long, and that I was going to be screwed in 90 days or so – so, like an idiot, I called National Grid and asked them what the hell was going on and why I was having to get my electricity from Mississippi and when they were closing shop. That’s when the lady explained to me that no, they weren’t bankrupt, no, I didn’t have to switch, and that these people were calling because of all the new deregulation shit the PSC had ordered. She also told me that if I did fall for one of these companies spiels, that I should “check the fine print” because once the “introductory period” was over with, that their incentive plans, lower rates by X% for X months, could very well end up being higher than National Grid’s rates. I told her, well, I don’t really care, anyway, because I’m not going to switch providers, mostly because the fuckers keep calling. Signing a contract with them would be endorsing their fucking spam ass phone calls, and no, I won’t buy anything from anyone who insists on calling 10 times a day to sell it to me. That’s just annoying, and not conducive to getting me to listen to you.
On Friday, I decided that I was going to COUNT how many times these different companies called me. At 8:27 pm, the time of the LAST phone call, the count was up to 38. THIRTY EIGHT CALLS from different companies all over the US trying to sell me electricity. That’s just too much. And telling them “DON’T CALL ME AGAIN” does no good, and neither does “take me off your call list”. I have been told by more than one of these spam calling assholes that “We do not abide by the national do not call registry” since they are an “educational” call, “informing consumers about their new ability to choose their utility providers”\, not a sales call. Never mind the fact that they are trying to sell you their services – that’s just a bonus. Which is so much bullshit to me, since by their own admission in OTHER arguments, they will tell you themselves that National Grid has already “informed” their customers of this sweeping deregulation in a newsletter in customer’s bills.
So Monday, I was back on the phone with National Grid to lodge my formal complaint. And that didn’t get me anywhere because National Grid says that they did NOT “put me on a list” or give anyone my phone number as a potential electricity buyer, that these companies are basically just cold calling form the phone book or something.
Of course, this is fishy to me since on National Grid’s own website there is a list of “potential providers” and these are the very same people who are calling me THIRTY EIGHT TIMES A DAY.
But National Grid says that there really isn’t anything they can do about the spam calls, but I could all the PSC and lodge a complaint with them, which , of course, is in National Grid’s best interests because if enough people call PSC complaining about the deregulation, well, that can only make National Grid look better, and make “choice of providers” look like the huge pain in the ass it is. Oh – and National Grid also told me that I could always change my phone number and have it unlisted. Which, to me, seems like a huge fucking pain in the ass just to make spam callers go away.
But it does look like a reasonable alternative when the phone rings at SEVEN IN THE MORNING and wakes my ass up just to have some guy from New Delhi say to me “May I speak to the person in charge of your National Grid bill?” .