Utility Company Misprint Leads to Misdirected Calls, Confused Agents

January 05, 2016

By Michelle Amodio - Power Protection Contributor

It’s not uncommon that power outages lead to an influx of calls to respective managing utility companies. Customers not only wish to report the outage itself, but usually want some kind of update as to when power will be restored. For the residents of a town in western Washington State, all seemed copacetic until the agents on the other end were baffled as to where the outage had occurred.

It turns out that the customers of the Jefferson County Public Utility District (JPUD) were calling into a service center located in Hannibal, Missouri. The misdirected calls were due to a bill misprint, as JPUD and Hannibal Board of Works (BPW) use the same billing provider.

According to the Hannibal Courier-Post, between 40 and 50 calls were made from JPUD customers into BPW’s center all looking to report the outage, which left many agents baffled.

“Our midnight crew was very confused about what was going on. They were giving us some weird addresses that we’d never heard of before,” said Kari Goodman, public relations coordinator for the BPW, the Hannibal Courier-Post reported.

Typographical errors can have serious repercussions for any business, but more so for utility companies that otherwise need to know of emergency situations and outages as they happen. Mistakes as such can damage credibility, cause confusion for customers, and can prevent customers from reaching the proper authorities.
In this case, the situation wasn’t dire, but certainly reminds us that not only are proofreaders essential, so is having a power protection plan for when you cannot get to the right agents to handle your power issues.

While a lot of power outage preparedness advice focuses on residential customers, businesses should take heed and have their own checklists, in addition to securing assets, like computers and devices that require power to function.

One solution? Investing in an uninterruptible power supply, or UPS. Aside from maintaining power when necessary, UPS prevents data loss and offers surge protection. The UPS automatically switches to AC-generated battery power, preventing the spike or surge from harming whatever is connected to it. A UPS also prevents power fluctuations.

In addition to keeping things running smoothly, using power protection equipment can also save institutions thousands in costly damages due to outages in the event of an interruption or total outage.

While a UPS cannot prevent misdialed calls, it can help keep you up and running until all systems are a go. 

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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