Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pepco Prolongs

It's been almost three months since I last posted a description of some of the things that had gone wrong with my thermostats provided through Pepco's Energy Wise Rewards (EWR) program. So where are we now? Still having problems.

I do finally have my two thermostats showing on the Pepco web page. So in theory, I could program them through the web. Alas, the website labels both thermostats "First Floor". While there are secondary user-settable labels, without the correct primary labels, I would have to spend time experimenting to see which thermostat responds and is the real first floor. However, I'd rather Pepco fix their labels - for two reasons: First, because of all the time delays and lack of feedback throughout the system, it's a hassle of unknown duration for me to do the experimenting. For Pepco to do it should be a trivial database update. Second, the lack of proper labels causes problems for Pepco already. When I call Pepco with a problem, Pepco wants to know the identification number of the thermostat. They don't know what thermostat I mean when I say "thermostat on the 2nd floor". So why doesn't Pepco put the identification numbers right there on its own web page?

Since reporting this to Comverge (Pepco's EWR contractor), they have yet to fix it - a change that should be trivial for them. In my most recent phone call, the Comverge representatives finally gave up and told me that they couldn't fix it, that only Pepco could and that I had to place the call. What? Comverge cannot call Pepco? So I called Pepco. That turned out to be a challenge just because Pepco's phone is answered with a phone tree that asks if you want to report an outage, pay a bill, and so on. As far as I could tell, all of these were automated. No choice was offered to reach a person. And none of the choices seemed relevant. Telephone tree hell.

At some point, I figured out that saying "representative" would break through the wall of automation and I was able to speak to a living, breathing human at Pepco. Of course, she started out by telling me to call the EWR number. After I explained that EWR referred me to Pepco, she said she would look into the problem. She also discovered that I hadn't been receiving the promised credits for participating in the program and she would investigate that as well. As long as she was so optimistic, I mentioned another problem I had noticed - that one of the thermostats didn't run the fan in the On position - a useful function when the temp is not high enough to run the AC for extended periods.

At least Pepco has been calling me back. Their most recent phone call informed me that my problems had been escalated. But why tell me this? I don't care what their internal procedures are. Just tell me when it's fixed or give me a date when it will be fixed. Vague assertions are of no value, waste my time, and only tell me that Pepco doesn't see things from the customer viewpoint - if that wasn't already painfully obvious.

So that's where we are now. I have to take time off for yet another appointment this week for a Pepco technician to visit the house, the web page still doesn't explain which thermostat is which, I declined to program the thermostat through its physical interface (as I explained previously), and Pepco still owes me for months of promised rebates.

When will this nonsense end?