Friday, April 30, 2010

Gas - a "Seinfeld" Moment

I felt - for a moment - this morning as if I was in the middle of a Seinfeld episode.

We have been having issues with our propane supplier. You know propane, not oil or "natural gas," but the colorless, odorless fuel (it's an additive that gives the gas that smell, and you're supposed to call "this number" if you smell it - it means you have a leak!). Our furnace, cooktop and clothes dryer all run on propane fuel. When we built our house, propane was MUCH cheaper than oil. We thought we were making a wise budgetary decision. Well, propane has increased in price, again and again over the past 10 years, so that it can cost more than a gallon of auto fuel. SURPRISE! Put that into your household budget, please.

The prices and the frequency of delivery have made me question our supplier's business plan. (You may recall that I chased the driver out of our yard last year, when he came to refill our 500 gallon tank, after a particularly LARGE bill had just been paid. I believe I yelled something like, "You need to leave - don't even unroll that hose! We don't need any more propane! You were just here! I can't afford to pay you $1,200 a month!" - something like that.)

I called customer service and requested a recap of our past two years' usage and billing. I got some flack from H**** in the H******** office. I asked for her supervisor, and was advised to call the main office. I called the main office. I was given excellent customer service by A***. And just recently, the General Manager phoned to ask me about the phone call with H****.

Now, to me, that is impressive. It takes guts to call a customer who you know is unhappy, and to ask just what she is unhappy about - to be willing to walk right into it with her. Mr. GM was willing, and today, we had that discussion. It was very enlightening, and I left the call feeling much better about his company. Our "gas relationship" is on solid footing, now (pun intended).

The "Seinfeld" part was when I decided to give him some customer feedback. I told him, in effect, "Look: you sell an invisible product. It's a colorless, odorless gas. It goes into our tank, and then - invisibly - into our appliances, and we use it. Then you show up to replace it, and charge us for it." I could just see Jerry Seinfeld doing a riff onstage about the purchase of an expensive, invisible, soundless, odorless product: "You have competitors. You need a face to go with your invisible product. You need a face for your gas."

It just struck me funny, at the time.


Anonymous said...

omg..this is hilarious !!! i love thinking about you running to him, yelling to get off your property! lololol goood stuufffff.

michelle tucker

Busy Bee Suz said...

I love how you explained this to the GM. You are so right too Karen...they are selling you NOTHING. :) And you pay for it!!!!
This made me laugh so hard.

I had a post drafted about my blog being about "nothing" was cute, but then I felt it was too much talking about ME again..and not it is lost with everything else in my sick laptop!!
Have a great odorless weekend.

Kay said...

I can just see you out there fussing at those guys. Too funny! LOL Makes me glad we're all electric! :-D

Ellen said...

Invisible gas.....a tank...a driver with a hose of invisible substance...well I guess I won't complain when I get my PG and E bill!
That could have been a cute youtube video with you running the man off!
The things that happen at our homes...

Elizabeth said...

It struck you as funny because it IS funny! Thanks for lightening my day!

Mary said...

So Seinfeld -- hilarious!
I just caught up a little on your have been SO busy. I loved all the old pictures!!

Allegra Smith said...

Well, there you go. You made me laugh out loud. I can almost imagine what went through his mind about that line. A face for his gas? You have to agree that is a heck of a funny line.

Laurie Brandriet Keller said...

that's hysterical. please forward this to seinfeld. and ask for the royalties on that part of his skit to pay the bill. xoxo. have a great weekend.

deb said...

thanks for the little out loud chuckle this morning, Karen.

and is that your backyard?

Tracey Axnick said...

I'm picturing Jerry Seinfeld standing behind you as you were yelling at the guy to get off your property... "And STAY out!"

Cute post.

You're right about the good customer service though... I'm glad the Gen Mgr. called you back and "made it right". That's such a rarity these days.

btw.... you'll have to stop by the blog... more funny stuff to share... AND a trip to Nordstrom Rack (thanks for the suggestion!) is in my immediate future! Life with destructive dogs is never dull. :)

Karen said...

You tell 'em, Karen! Seinfeld rules!

karen gerstenberger said...

Good idea, Laurie!

Tracy, I just re-discoved your blog - you moved! I'll be over soon.

deb, it's the part of our backyard where the 500-gallon propane tank sits (the whole property is just under an acre). We put that screen in front of the tank, and planted clematis and jasmine (to grow up onto the screen), which will hopefully camouflage the monster, someday.