Between the lines: They already know
By Gwen Kautz
What if they don’t?
About 10 years ago, just as spring came to an end, a large storm rolled over Dawson PPD’s service area and caused major damage. As always, Dawson PPD linemen began the diligent task of restoring power to 400+ customers before the storm was over. This was just as social media began as a way for power districts to share information
Our phones rang continually, and we logged every call so we could call the customer back later, but more importantly, so we could follow our map and look at circuits the customer was on. If I remember right, it took about a day and a half to get everyone back on. There’s nothing more gratifying to a lineman than to get power restored quickly.
About two days later, we received a phone call from one of our older customers who lived alone. He was soft spoken and quietly inquired when we thought the power would be restored to the area. We were surprised because we thought we got power back to everyone. He wasn’t upset or demanding.
This customer didn’t call when the power went out or even during the restoration period. He said he knew his neighbors would. Said they always do. We knew all of our pieces of equipment were operating well by that time, but the outage caused this customers’ main breaker to trip. It didn’t occur to him (nor would it have occurred to me) that he should check it. THIS is why we try and call our customers back after restoring service. Since he didn’t call, we didn’t have record on him…thus we didn’t call him to check.
When asked why he didn’t call sooner, he said “Nah. I knew you guys were working on it and would get it done. You always do. No sense in me nagging at you.” While we appreciate your patience when we are doing restoration work, we still need you to call in – at least once. He said, “I’ve lived without electricity before and done just fine, but those darn wells need it and my cows were gettin’ thirsty.”
Now, enter social media…and cell phones. We recognize that today’s customers would find it MUCH easier just to drop us a line on our Facebook page because it’s simple. I would like that, too. Have you ever been part of a Facebook thread that elicited dozens of responses, with sub-responses and perhaps sub-sub responses? It easily gets out of control and it is impossible for us to monitor it. We only see a name, and not all names are our customers and further, not all customers posting are in the outage area. We would waste a lot time trying to figure out where you lived or what your meter number is. This especially holds true when the account is in someone else’s’ name.
That’s why Dawson PPD needs every customer to call in when they are out of power. That’s why we can’t use social media to report outages.
Last month’s large outage for Overton (Hi dad & mom!) and the surrounding area is a great example. I was following the community thread and kept seeing “does anyone know what happened?” So, I told them, and it cascaded into a larger conversation that I couldn’t completely track. That’s why we need you to PERSONALLY call in. When you call in, you may get a busy signal. I did when I called in Sunday. I tried 3 times. Just keep trying and if you’re given the option to leave a message, DO THAT!
Our friends and neighbors call me or my husband, Duane, and we don’t mind at all. Just know that I probably DO NOT know what happened, nor do I know when service will be restored. It’s not that I’m not updated, but honestly the guys are pretty busy, and I know if it’s something really major, the operations manager will let me know right away. The only thing I know for sure is that Dawson PPD linemen are Johnny-on-the-spot every time – to which I say thanks!