SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Open Letter: KPU
By David G. Hanger


October 20, 2009

Mr. Ed Cushing/ Ketchikan Public Utilities:

Upon further reflection I have concluded that our telephone conversation of last Thursday afternoon is so fascinating the whole town ought be in on it. Let us begin by pointing out that I called about the fact that you lied to GCI when they contacted you to transfer my account by claiming my ancillary phone numbers had been reassigned, when in fact you knew they had not been re-assigned; merely the beginning of the grotesque retaliatory tactics your company has engaged in. My call, after the concerned intervention of our mayor, was to reverse your previous nonsense of lying to GCI about my phone numbers, and to arrange for said numbers to be transferred to GCI.

Instead I got a ten to fifteen minute tirade from you about what a terrible customer I am and have been, indeed for decades. Now I don't care that you talked in a soft monotone; tirade it is when someone I have called about transferring telephone numbers is droning on and on and on about what a terrible customer I am and have been through the decades. You pointed out that KPU bureaucrats, having nothing else to do, have accumulated computerized biodata records going back to 1991 that beyond doubt prove what a terrible customer I am. I do tax returns, Ed, and people on occasion go to jail for what they do with tax returns, but no one goes to jail for being late paying their utility bill. After three years we shred everything, so why are you maintaining such superfluous records for decades? Are you guys into geneology, or instead of a small-town utility when did you decide to be the local Gestapo? As for yourself, Ed, I have to wonder how much unnecessary time you are occupying, for included in your tirade was the information that nine generations of PDRs, whatever the hell a PDR is, have confirmed what a terrible customer I am, that you even had conversations with these PDRs about how terrible I am, and, of course, this litany I had to hear about in extravagant detail. Now I don't know if a PDR is a copy machine, a ditto machine, or just a dittohead, and I don't really care, but when you are trying to tell an individual what a terrible person they are, it is generally wise not to be so obliviously obnoxious. In effect, you demonstrate clearly why I despise KPU.

I confess, Ed, by your standards I have been a terrible customer of KPU since long before 1991. You have my permission to release all of my payment records to the public if you want, again I could care less. Back in 1982, I pointed out that KPU employees had an odd penchant for three-hour lunches and two 90-minute coffee breaks a day, named names, and a head or two even rolled, and what I hear suggests things haven't changed that much at KPU. My impression of you people since I was a young man is that you are just a bunch of arrogant slackers who enjoy bullying their neighbors. That is not a good foundation, Ed, for a cordial relationship with anyone, but that is the image and the attitude that you people fostered; I had nothing to do with that. What really puts the lie to your nonsense are two simple facts.

First, it just happens that I am that unusual customer who does business with multiple utility and telephone companies here and elsewhere. Now for almost 35 years I have operated a seasonal business in this town, and throughout that period of time I have had to procure television, internet, telephone, and sometimes utility costs while I was out of town annually doing my required by law continuing professional education. It will always be a simple fact that seasonal businesses occasionally are late paying their bills; customers are frequently late paying mine. With all of these aforementioned utility, phone, etc. companies I have on occasion been late paying a bill; and on occasion I have received from them a nagging phone call asking me when I am going to get it paid, and sometimes they have been clearly skeptical about what I have told them; but in all instances the bill got paid, generally when I said it would, and in all instances I am to those companies a "valued customer whose business is greatly appreciated;" and as euphemistic as that mantra may be, it clearly defines the difference between KPU and all of them. In all my life I have had trouble with only one utility company, Ed Cushing, KPU, and take a look at the reason why. You have decades of spying and prying, decades of computerized biodata that confirms I am a terrible customer, nine generations indeed of PDRs, re-affirming what a terrible customer I am.

Actually, Ed, I am just not real tolerant of bullies, no matter the form they manifest. Let us now examine that second simple fact, that's the one about my being a terrible customer for literally decades. In a state where something like two out of 100 businesses last five years I have lasted now almost 35 years. In a town that has had some big time ups and downs over the last three-and-a-half decades my business weathered through thick and thin. In that time I have been such a terrible customer of KPU's that I have spent at least $80,000 for KPU services for my home and office, and probably a fair bit more than that. As such a terrible customer, I am sure you can appreciate why I don't want to do business with you. As such a terrible customer, why indeed would you want to continue doing business with me?

But in fact you are doing everything in your power to prevent me from transferring to GCI. The good folks at GCI were scheduled to transfer over my three numbers the middle of last week; instead I got a telephone call from the GCI technician informing me that while my main number, 225-4123, could be transferred over, my other two numbers, faxline and trunkline, had been re-assigned. He asked me if I wanted a couple new numbers. I asked him to stand by. I asked the mayor to assist when I verified that you were claiming to have assigned phone numbers to others that I was paying for, a rather odd and unnecessary form of cheating. As you confirmed, you all were in fact lying about the cheating; another extreme oddity, I might add; that the numbers had not been re-assigned, and that you had out and out lied to GCI personnel about that. Lies within lies, all because a customer wants to transfer accounts to another carrier.

The truly bizarre is yet to come, isn't it, Ed? That's the bit where you told me that under ordinary circumstances you would be happy to just let the account go, but, and then you launched into another litany as to why you did not want to do that. That's not your choice, Ed, that's mine, and the fact that for an instant you think you have the right to interfere with what I want to do is what makes KPU in my opinion the worst corporate culture in the history of the world. Then you further seek to restrain free trade by putting up barriers to my ability to freely transfer my account. You insist that I have to pay my yellow page advertising bill all as a lump sum, something like $800 to $900, if I transfer all of my phone numbers, but if I keep a number with KPU, I can continue paying that bill monthly. So I say you can have the faxline or the trunkline, whichever you want, but you insist you have to have the main number, which means now you have established an intentional systematic barrier to transferring accounts to other carriers.

I cannot afford to pay you $800 to $900 as a lump sum in my offseason, nor is there any reason I should have to do that. Given your lies and deceits, there is no foundation for you to make any such demands on me whatsoever, and I will refer that matter specifically to the City Council and to the citizens of this community for their prompt attention. The pattern of behavior demonstrated by KPU in this case is obscene, and there is an immediate need for serious corrective action. Among other things it is way past time for a KPU manager to replace the tyrant in residence, and I have to admit I have serious doubts about you, Ed. I would go so far as to say that your tirade was not simply pretty damned stupid, it was one of the dumbest things I have ever heard a bureaucrat spout off. When a customer transfers to another carrier the proper response in all instances, no matter what you really think, is, "We are sorry we are losing your business, and we hope to be of service to you in the future." You do not give him reasons why you won't let him do that.

So Ed, the folks in GCI will be calling soon, and you will give them all three numbers, and I would suggest you apologize to them for your lies. I tried to be reasonable and offered you a number, but you had to be a hog and had to have it all, and that is exactly what you are not going to get. Instead from me you get nothing else at all. I have an obligation to the Barry Company for advertising into next spring, early summer. I am sure the Barry Company does not want to get dragged into your lies and your deceptions, so I will discuss this issue with them and with the Ketchikan City Council. The Barry Company expects me to pay them at the rate of $67 a month, and I will continue to do that until the Yellow Page contract has concluded, the telephone number has not changed. If KPU does not want to continue billing me that amount monthly, we'll find someone who will.

Let's get straight what has happened in this case, Ed. I decided to change carriers, and you all launched a series of extreme retaliatory measures. You lied and you cheated, and you have been exposed. And, of course, in your closed little universe I am a terrible customer.

Members of the City Council wake up to this madhouse under your nose. For the good folks of Ketchikan I think the object is pretty clear. It's not possible for most folks to be considered a good person by KPU; they keep lifetime records on you, and you are bad if you are late paying their bill. Which really isn't the business KPU is supposed to be in, is it? Deciding who is bad and good? I thought they were supposed to provide utility services. One thing is obvious. There are many carriers out there, many choices; KPU should be your very last choice. In fact, just scratch it off the list.

So Mr. Cushing, do get those numbers switched over to GCI on the QT, and others will have to deal with the rest of your mess. I know you have only been in town a few months, and I duly note once again it is rather stupid to judge someone you have never met, but all I wanted from you was a handful of numbers transferred over to GCI. Instead I get a tirade telling me what a terrible customer I am and have been for decades, apparently KPU's justification for their lies and deceits in this case, and now the whole community has the opportunity to share in it, a clear demonstration of why KPU thinks I am such a terrible customer.


David G. Hanger
Proprietor-1st City Tax & Accounts
Ketchikan, AK


Received October 19, 2009 - Published October 20, 2009



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