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Utility Company Horror Story

It all started on Tuesday.

We had taken a liesurely 3 days to drive from Canberra to Melbourne in order to leave enough time for the movers to do their thing.

Tuesday, Pascale and the kids go to the new house, whilst I slink off to work.

Tuesday night I am tasked with assembling beds and finding out why there is no hot water. Investigations reveal there is no hot water because the hot water heater is turned offf. The water heater is off because there appears to be no gas to it. All this takes some hours. A search around the perimeter fails to find the gas meter so off to bed.

Wednesday morning and the gas meter is located. It is not turned off - bad news. Many calls to the gas company. Of course the gas company sub-contracts to distributors who have sub-contracted maintenance crews and in the end you just aint sure who it is you're dealing with but finally someone agrees to send a tech out. Tech arrives at 1Pm and confirms my diagnosis that the gas is turned on but there isn't any gas. The tech leaves, satisfied that he has once again completed his task. At 3pm another tech arrives and tries clearing the line from the meter back to the main. No joy so he digs up the supply branch line to the house and sticks a flexible prod towards the main. No obstruction, but no gas either. He is stumped (isn't that comforting). He leaves with the promise to be back with backhoe, etc in the morning to dig up the road and find out what the problem is with the main.

Thursday Morning. Nothing. At 11am I start my calls to the gas company - these are very frustrating because the agents that did the utilities connection on the new house put the account in Pascale's name and with the privacy laws being what they are, the gas company always starts by telling me to mind my own business. Finally get some action and by 1pm a new crew arrives, but without the backhoe. Turns out that this is just another maintenance crew who confirm that there appears to be no gas in the line. They advise that they will have to come back with a backhoe to dig up the main...............snooze. Things start happenning quickly now and it takes only two hours for the digging crew to arrive. When they arrive however they make a startling discovery. The reason that there is no gas from the main is because a little over a month ago this main was de-commissioned. The gas company had run a higher pressure through this area which needed a whole new main to be laid on the other side of the street. Householders were invited to identify their house as needing gas (not all use it of course) so that a new connection to the new main could be laid. My house was dormant between tennants so the invitation was never taken up. There is no gas connection to this gas-reliant house.

We'll be back first thing in the morning to get it all done, they say. Won't take more than five hours to do the job. But there is still four hours of daylight left, I say. No, too hard - bye, bye.

Back on the phones and demand, demand, demand. Get stuffed they cheerfully oblige. By now I am losing it and advise that I am taking the family to a motel for the night and they - the gas company - will be footing the bill. No way they say. So I bring a small fact to their attention. They have sold me a subscription for gas supply; in effect, a contract. There is no gas supply connected to my house. Therefore they, the gas company, have sold me something they don't have which in Australia (and probably everywhere else) is illegal. I offer to bring the matter to the attention of the ACCC but they think that I shouldn't waste all that energy and have a nice night at the motel at their expense.

So here we are at Friday. One wonders what new discoveries are yet to be made beneath ashphalt that is Sycamore Street!
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