Turning A No Into A Yes
A little over a year ago we were hit with 2 very severe winter storms. In our area, it fell in the form of ice. We survived the first ice storm without incident, but the second ice storm (lasting two days) was a different story for the thousands of folks that lost power.
I won’t deny how pretty the ice looks covering the tree branches and bushes, but the havoc it creates is not pretty at all. As hour-by-hour ticked by, the weight of the ice on everything was getting heavier and heavier. My husband and I moved our vehicles several times not really sure if there was any safe spot on our property to park them as we are surrounded by many pine trees over 80 feet tall. Just walking outdoors was a dangerous situation as you could hear branches snapping in half and actually hear them making their descent to the ground. It was a battle field of trees all fighting to hold onto their branches and lots of them lost the battle during that storm – many of them were on our property and those of our surrounding neighbors.
From the window we could watch them fall and on the way down to the ground hit the power lines causing a tidal wave of wires along the length of power poles feeling the effects of that one branch over 200 yards away. If the power poles are healthy there’s nothing to fear, but if there’s one that is not perfectly erect and is leaning the consequences of that one branch can be catastrophic – which was the case for us when the stress of the many breaking branches that hit the power lines (over the course of many hours) eventually put enough stress on that pole that it ripped the meter box right off the side of our house.
Leaving us without power.
Since my home phone runs off internet and electricity I could not call the power company with it, but had to use my husbands phone to do the calling. Thankfully we were in the right frame of mind to fully charge his phone before the storm began. I called to report the power outage and also told them about
They informed me that I would have to hire an electrician to fix/repair the damage before they could restore power to our home. I then asked them if the electrician should send them the bill, and they informed me that it is “our” cost to shoulder. They did say that if I felt the power company was liable that I was welcome to file a claim. So, I told them that I would like to file a claim and they transfered me to the claim line where I left a message (as I am sure thousands were doing at the same time I was).
I didn’t realize how much I relied on the internet for information until I no longer had it to use. Thankfully we had the yellow pages so that I could start my hunt for an electrician. I always used the internet to search out Better Business Bureau ratings and perhaps complaints from consumers but since I didn’t have that option at hand, I had to just blindly pick one to come do the work. I went through the first 15 companies before finding one that could squeeze me in the next day.
Then I called our insurance company to file a claim. The insurance adjuster called several hours later to schedule an appointment to come look at/take pictures of the damage.
Both the adjuster and the electrician showed up at just about the same time the next day. The electrician wrote up his estimate and I nearly choked at the price. Since we don’t have/use credit cards and we hadn’t yet saved up that kind of money, I had to borrow a credit card from a family member to pay the electrician. The adjuster was finishing up his report and told me to submit all bills relating to the damage/repairs to the insurance company. He gave me his card and left.
The next day the power company claims department called to inform me that they are not responsible for acts of nature and that my claim was denied. I hung up and sighed. My husband was trying to read my face and he looked at me questioningly and asked, “who was that?” I told him of the call, he was upset and told me it’s the power company’s fault and why, and then stopped and asked me, “Would you please write them a letter focused soley on the power pole that the line to the meter box was attached to?”
I looked at him and shook my head no. I told him that they denied us and that was that. He was not happy at all with my response, but over the course of two days I had made several dozen phone calls, talked with several dozen people, and I was spent. I didn’t really have any fight left in me to write them a letter telling them why I felt they should be responsible for the cost.
Power was restored for us on day 3 by the power company and it was a glorious moment in time! My husband made sure he spent time with the wonderful linemen; talking to them, thanking them for all they do, etc. What I didn’t know was that he was also talking to them about that power pole. They all agree that the pole was the cause and it had a Priority 1 Tag on it that marked it for replacement. (We were home the day they marked it a year prior, but we did not know, nor did we ask what the tag meant.)
After the linemen left, my husband came in the house and asked me to please, please, please try one more time with the claim to the power company and write the power company a letter. I told him I would think about it. I thought about it all day, and decided I would see what I could do but I didn’t say anything to my husband about it.
Everything was back online by the next morning so I sat down at my trusty computer and begin my research on power poles. I really didn’t expect to find much, if anything, and some of it was time-wasting, useless information. Some of it was copy and paste worthy so I opened up a blank document and began pasting. It literally took me all of that day to do my research and get what I thought was a sufficient amount of information to use for my letter.
The next day I sat down and typed the letter and after I finished it and re-read it over and over several times, I took it to my husband to read to him:
To whom it may concern at (power company),
The resulting loss of power, and destruction of our power meter at (address) was due to the integrity of the utility pole being compromised.
This utility pole was inspected well over a year ago and was labeled with a P1 tag which we were informed is considered an urgent matter. We were told that the pole needed to be replaced before the pole failed altogether.
Because the pole is compromised due to rot, termite damage, etc., it cannot withstand the weight an otherwise healthy pole would be able to endure from an ice storm. The ice storm lasted more than 2 days adding more ice, more weight and more stress to an already unstable situation.
This utility pole is a dead end pole and is leaning away from the dwelling from which the meter was pulled – it no longer stands erect, but at an angle. The power lines from that pole connect to our dwelling and our neighbor’s dwelling. The power lines also connect to another utility pole about 125 feet away and the power lines on that pole connect to other poles further down a private driveway.
The lines down that private driveway were continually been thrashed about (visualize here the cracking of a whip because that is what it looked like continually) and it was a continuous ripple effect that traveled all the way to the P1 pole causing further weight and stress until the point where it could no longer endure the strain and weight of the ice to the pole and the lines thereby tearing the meter box from our dwelling.
The onus lies with (company name) for neglecting to replace a utility pole that was marked for replacement over a year ago. Had proper maintenance occurred with this utility pole, the burden of payment would have been ours to accept, but this is not the case for this particular circumstance.
Enclosed you will find 2 invoices for the repairs that were necessary to put this dwelling back online as it was prior to the occurrence and also photos relevant to this matter.
We appreciate your time and cooperation in this matter.
My husband smiled and gave me a big ‘ol hug and kiss and about a dozen thank yous.
I printed about 10 photos and took them and the letter to Office Depot and faxed it to the claims department at the power company.
About a week later my husband’s phone rings, and I hear him talking and giving the caller our address. He thanks them and hangs up and immediately thanks God. He then walks over to me to tell me that the claims department called to verify the address where they will be sending the check!
I cannot begin to tell you how happy that made me since we could deposit the check and send off the full amount to our family member so they could zero balance their credit card once again.
This post is longer than I intended but the purpose was to say that sometimes a “no” turns into a yes. If you get turned down for something, try again and again. Especially if it’s going to help get your money back!
My mother told me that sometimes she had to continually make phone calls or write letters to insurance companies about things they wouldn’t cover until they would finally agree to pay. She said to me that she thinks they were just tired of hearing from her and to shut her up they paid a claim or covered a procedure, but I am beginning to think that it might be standard practice for them to say no because most people probably would have reacted the way I initially did by saying, they said no, so that is that.
I learned a lesson that day thanks to my husband and will never just walk away if I get a “no” again.
Have you had a no turn into a yes? Please share your story below!