Ok, so why has DWSD put a blue line on the sidewalk right near your water cutoff? Do they only do this when they plan to turn your water off? In the city of Detroit, the blue line on your sidewalk serves as a scarlet letter telling your neighbors you must not pay your water bill.
I had a really really busy day with work. Later in the day when I looked at activity picked up by my cameras, I saw that someone was walking around my house. Saw truck drive up to my house specifically. Although the doorbell sits at eye level, the DWSD tech never rings it. A simple ring of the doorbell would have triggered an interior chime and an alert on my phone that someone was at my front door. But on close inspection of my front door… I see that the tech put this in my front security door.
First let’s note how annoying it is when someone does not put a “door hanger” on the doorknob. But shoves it between your decorative rod iron and the storm window of your security door. Obviously, DWSD does not train their techs in how difficult it is to try and peel wet paper off a window covered by decorative rod iron. It’s not their property so why should they respect it.
Since I hadn’t made a meter appointment nor been made aware via a phone call, direct mail, email mail or anything else that a meter reading was upcoming I was quite surprised by the door hanger. I was even more surprised when over a decade ago, DWSD announced they had installed outdoor meter readers in homes such as mine.
I call DWSD the next morning to inquire about the door hanger. “Why do you need to come into my home when the meter reader is outside?” I was told there was a meter error. No more explanation than that. I was then asked if I wanted to make a meter appointment. That was a very interesting offer. You can make an appointment? But why should DWSD be so inefficient by sending techs out Willy Neilly on the if come you maybe home. Wouldn’t it had been a more efficient use of manpower to email, direct mail, text or call a customer ahead of time to notify them of your needs and then make an appointment? Especially if when you make an appointment and miss it you will be charged $40 on your next bill. DWSD just shows up on the if come and they get nothing. Gives one perspective on how the ways DWSD is run inefficiently creates higher water bill fees Year after year.
The appointment is made and the tech comes the same day. Interestingly enough the tech comes early. As he walks up the driveway he has equipment in his hand. As I stand in my driveway watching the tech walk towards me I ask, “What were you told the issue was?” He responds, “You need a new meter installed.” My reply, “I was told there was a meter error. The communication between interior and exterior meter. That’s all.” In a matter of fact way he says, “They lie”. Point taken.
I lead the tech into the basement and direct him to the main. He pulls out a wrench and starts tugging at the main cutoff. He says “it’s stuck”. I think to myself don’t plumbers have a lubricant they use to get a knob to be turned? I don’t ask this question aloud. But then I get a better understanding of the tech’s mentality. He flips the cover on the meter and taps on it with his finger. In a pure misogamist tone, he says, “Well there you go, the meter is definitely not working. See when I tap my finger, they normally do something if they are working. You need a new meter. I can’t turn the water off. You have to get a plumber to fix it.” As he gets up and moves to pick up his toolbox and the replacement meter he brought in, for some strange reason he notices and grabs a can of WD40 I had on a chest. “Well thank your lucky stars you had this. Let me use some of it”
Now I noticed that training was not a priority with DWSD. A water meter’s main function is to record the amount of water the home is requesting at any given time.
If no appliances are running, someone hasn’t just flushed the toilet, you don’t have any faucets on or your hot water tank or humidifier aren’t filling, the meter doesn’t have any use going on at the time to read. It’s not my job to train DWSD workers in simple physics.
The WD40 loosened the handle on the turnoff. But the tech lamented that he couldn’t turn off the main. I responded, “interesting with how much money we pay on our water bills DWSD can’t afford to supply you folks with WD40.” Point made.
I went on to say, “what are the next steps?” Tech relied,”YOU have to get a plumber”. The intent of my question was will I need to contact DWSD to have my water cut off at the curb stop before my plumber arrives? Will I need to coordinate when plumber is done to schedule DWSD to come back to turn the water back on? He replied. “…you have no choice”
As I go back into my house after the tech leaves. I fume that I am doing most of the work for a vendor I am paying. I reach out to my regular plumber and I explain what is needed. Just as I am considering setting an appointment time it occurs to me that I have a day job with an employer who treats me well. So let me get on my next conference call and tell my plumber I will call them back later to schedule. Then it hits my memory, didn’t you sign up and pay for the first year coverage of some type of water service line/sewerage line insurance DWSD was promoting? Yes I did with a company called American Water Resources USA.
The interesting thing about insurance is that you pay for it and when you need it you watch them find ways to wiggle out of covering anything you need. I might as well go through the exercise before I setup the appointment with my usual plumber.
I locate the email AWR sent when I enrolled in the program and called the number. I explained what DWSD and the DWSD tech told me. AWR said they would set up an appointment. Told me that their contractor would reach out to me within 24 hours to schedule the exact appointment time. In their welcome packet they said,
“Stay up-to-the-minute on the day of your American Water Resources service appointment with the Dispatch Manager app. Ask your agent how to set-up your appointment with Dispatch so you get text message alerts”
I click on the link expecting to be sent to the Apple App Store to download the Dispatch app. But it sent me to a BtoB website focused on getting small businesses to use the Dispatch service for their customers. I inquire about the Dispatch app while I am on the phone with the customer service representative (CSR). She says, “oh no that just our communication system.”
The CSR goes on to say that her company is trying to get Detroit residents excited and happy about their current program in hopes that they can roll out more insurance programs to Detroit residents in the near future. I ask if the CSR could explain more about the AWR DWSD partnership, hoping there would be some coordination between the two so I wouldn’t have to serve as a project manager. While I am still speaking to the CSR via my mobile, my home phone rings. I check my email and notice AWR had triggered several emails while I was on the call. Dispatch is trigger happy and not in a good way.
Who you gonna call?
While Dispatch gets overly excited in triggering notifications, knowing who and what number to call is not communicated well. Between the emails and CSR and the return numbers listed on my voicemail it’s hard to reconnect or return a phone call. I had 3-4 different numbers for the plumbing contractor AWR had made my appointment with. I made 4-5 different calls trying to reach someone. All, but one number went directly to voicemail. The one live body was an answering service not even located in this state.
Tell me a little about yourself
Being a homeowner in Detroit has it challenges. Your home is your biggest investment, so you do your due diligence to make sure any contractor is licensed, bonded and insured. And seeing the vendor’s previous work helps direct your selection and gives you peace of mind. The CSR told me that the contractor they were making me an appointment with was their only contractor who covered the state of Michigan. The name given was Hartmann & Sons Water and Sewer located in Livonia, Michigan. I asked the CSR if they were licensed, bonded and insured. The AWR CSR said yes and said I should check out the vendor’s website for more information.
But this contractor does not come up in a Google Search, Apple Maps Search, Michigan BBB search or a LARA search.
I checked Michigan BBB and the contractor AWR has is not listed. I searched LARA and contractor does not come up to show that they have a license. I did several Googles and Apple Map searches and the contractor doesn’t come up to provide a company address or website. AWR is listed on the NYSE. AWR has a website. How can a company have secured a statewide contract and there is no information about them?
When their tech came for their appointment, he noted he was a new employee and also thought it odd there was no company website. The tech went on to say their parent company is based out of New Jersey. They have been in Michigan for 6 or 7 months because of support of AWRUSA business. They have another name they are registered as in New Jersey. But he couldn’t tell me the name. They only do vendor work for insurance companies. I told the tech to let his manager know I will require a copy of their
3. Certificate of Insurance
The tech told me his manager would call me this afternoon. NO CALL. But Dispatch sent an email to say I had an appointment scheduled for Friday. I called AWR and told them about the documents I needed and that I wanted the Hartmann & Sons Water and Sewer, LLC to call me to discuss.
DWSD tactics brings up many questions they have yet to really answer. Much of the problem deals with poor communication and a lack of training. It’s obvious that DWSD has not done their research when setting up this partnership with AWR. If DWSD had observed the Dispatch system in practice they would have seen red flags. And the most blatant problem is encouraging Detroit residents to use an insurance carrier who would contract with a vendor who shows itself to be extremely sketchy. Buyer beware!!!!!