Communication Breakdown? Powerless Residents Complain

By Diana Perez, WBZ-TV

WAYLAND (CBS) – While everyone waits for things to get back to normal, frustration levels are rising. One Wayland family says the lack of consideration and customer service from N-Star and other officials is making the wait for power even more difficult.

Two days after Irene swept through our state many are still in the dark, including the Michalczyk family from Wayland who lost power Sunday.

Susan Michalcyzk, a BC professor called N-Star immediately and says she hit the first of many stonewalls. “The communication is broken down,” she said. “You try to reach N-Star and you get automated reporters. Once in a while you a human being to answer, they say to call the local police (but) you call the local police and they say call N-Star.”

WBZ-TV’s Diana Perez reports

As if the run-around weren’t enough, she says the lack of consideration is what really stings. Her son, a juvenile diabetic just underwent surgery. When Susan told N-Star they recommended she head to a shelter, she says they reprimanded her for waiting so long to inform them. “The response from the officer was you should’ve told us that earlier so we could note it as a medical emergency,” she said.

Susan has also called police, fire, even the State House but she says she’s walked away with the same feeling every time. “Everybody understands nature happens hurricanes happen but the respond with such a lack of concern of with what is your problem, why are you bothering us is so disheartening… nobody wants special treatment we just want fair and equal treatment,” said Susan.

But there is a light at the end of tunnel for Susan and her family, the tree removal crew arrived in her neighborhood soon as we spoke to her. Once they are done removing the tree that knocked the power our, N-star moves in to restore electricity.

A representative at N-Star meanwhile tells us all of its employees are committed to helping customers and that a response such as the one Susan got is not tolerated.

  • Italo

    It’s frustratingly difficult for companies nowadays to find employees to hire with good customer service skills, it seems, because so fewer young adults are raised these days to be courteous and know what manners are when dealing with the public. Oh, that’s right…click a mouse, press a mouse, or hover over an icon, and get what you need or want instantly, without having to express oneself with etiquette or stringing together a properly communicated sentence. Welcome to 2011-sigh.

  • Italo

    Follow-up — yeah, I just checked the message I posted, should’ve done so before I clicked, I know I made some mistakes in my writing. Apologies about that, I admit it first; but I know where the thought was behind what I wrote, and that was intended not against the woman in the story, but for the bad customer service she reported having received.. Customer service personnel nowadays do not know what is or isn’t appropriate in how to respond to or express empathy with consumers anymore, let alone aren’t trained adequately in it. That one important detail can make such a great difference in how a client takes your response in being able or unable to assist them satisfyingly the first time ’round.

  • Liz

    I found it frustrating that the only reason we had National Grid in our town was because of a newscast with the town manager complaining how Kraft got power for Gillette, but we had nothing in the rest of Foxboro. Within an hour we had National Grid trucks for the first time. Yuck! If it was a town that didn’t have Patriots Place I’d be more patient, but when you have events at PP and no traffic lights… it gets dangerous.

  • camgcn

    Just sawe an NSTAR truck on my street, went to flag him down, he stoped when I approched his truck he drove off. Service with a smile :(

    Bedford, MA

  • camgcn

    Just saw an NSTAR truck on my street, went to flag him down, he stoped when I approched his truck he drove off. Service with a smile :(

    Bedford, MA 10pm still no power

  • kas

    Can’t help to think, imagine if this had been a real bad storm ?

  • KK

    Before you complain about no power, “so much” to clean up, remember those in Vermont that have lost their homes, towns, livelihoods and some…their lives. It might take a week to get the power on, but you will get power. Some will never get back what they had…

  • Mischa Irsch

    To date (08/31 10pm) Wayland has THE highest percentage in state for people without power, why is that?

  • PR

    Cheers and thanks to Susan Michakyzk. She is a consumer advocate for responsible utility services.

    As to NStar, where is their business plan for extensive outages? If they can know the number of customers without power, where they are located, what the problems are, and that it will take up to six days to fix, why isn’t there a plan to immediately bring crews in from states not currently in crisis mode, and restore everyone’s power in 2 days, tops? Even at that, it costs households $500 to $1,000 to discard everything from the refrigerator and freezer. Maybe if NStar had to credit $500 to each consumer whose power is not restored within 24 hours, $1,000 for 48 hours, etc., there would be faster service.

    Or, what about requiring each utility to install a generator for each of its customers. That will create a few jobs.

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