Five days before Tropical Storm Hillary hit Southern California, Pasadena Water and Power turned my electricity off.
By Patricia Smith
Had I not paid my bill? Actually I had paid extra, in advance. In fact, I had prepaid $109 over my bill, which I always did just to be safe. So what was my crime? Let me explain.
Two years ago, my husband died. Since then I have paid the bills. About three weeks ago I received a letter from Pasadena Water and Power, saying I had 14 days to change the name on my account because my husband had died and the account was in his name. I admit, I forgot, although I had written myself a note to take some kind of action. That was Monday. On Tuesday I awoke to no electricity. Or air conditioning. Or landline. At first I thought my whole condominium had had a power outage. I checked with neighbors, then called Pasadena Water and Power. The automatic answering service said they would look into it. No mention of my particular issue.
After two more calls, I decided to call another number, for a live agent. Only then did I learn that Tuesday’s issue was the name on my account. After two years of paying my bills, I was told that, for my electricity to be turned back on, I must provide PWP with my husband’s death certificate, my condo deed, a copy of my Trust, and my full social security number. Not the last four numbers of my SS but the complete number. This is excessive, but I complied. I sent photos of the three documents. Their email said the photos were not sufficiently clear. So I took photos of half of each page and resent them. Then I received another email saying that half-photos could not be accepted. So I called, again.
This time I reached someone named Heather, who was enormously helpful. Heather said she was looking at my email at that moment and the half-photos were not sufficient and would I please send them as a PDF. Did I mention that I am 80 years old? I told Heather, and she said, “Let me talk to my supervisor.” She returned and said these documents would be all right and they would restore my electricity.
I had been told by email that, on receipt of the documents, restoration would take place within 48 hours. As you all know, we were experiencing a heat wave. I asked Heather to please get it done as quickly as possible. She said it would be turned back on by 5:00 pm. And she was as good as her word: my electricity was restored by 3:00 pm.
Pasadena Water and Power: what you asked of me was unnecessary, reckless, and dangerous. I have overpaid my bills for two years. What difference does it make if the check is from me or a friend or a relative? And what if I were less healthy than I am? What about your customers who do not own their property? And why do you ask for me to send my deed, my Trust, and provide my full social security number, when we have been warned not to give such information over the phone?
I hope you will change what I assume is a new and reckless policy, for you could really cause harm to your customers, especially during a heat wave.
Patricia Smith is a resident of Pasadena.
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