Delaware power problems continue : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Conectiv billing problems may last

By BILL YINGLING Staff reporter 02/09/2000

Conectiv's billing troubles, which have angered customers and frustrated regulators for more than a month, could continue into the summer, a company executive Tuesday told the Delaware Public Service Commission.

Since the company installed the system Dec. 11, customers have complained of exorbitant bills, long waits to talk to company representatives and rude service.

Barbara Graham, Conectiv's senior vice president of shared services, said the utility is gradually improving its new computer billing system and customers may see improvements during the next two months.

But it could take until June or July to get the system working as it was intended, Graham said.

Conectiv's appearance Tuesday in front of the five-member commission marks the utility's latest attempt to extricate itself from the problem.

"You're misunderstanding how foolish you all look," Commissioner John R. McClelland said.

His comment marked the first time other commissioners voiced their views on the subject. Until Tuesday, PSC chairman Robert McMahon had done most of the talking.

McClelland accused Conectiv managers of asking customers to help them find errors in their bills and then charging them for doing it.

Graham said the company is taking steps to help customers:

Nearly doubling the number of telephone call takers by the end of March to about 300 people. Opening temporary walk-in centers for customers to meet with Conectiv representatives. The company hasn't said where those centers will be. Having call takers work mandatory overtime. Not charging late fees or shutting off service to delinquent customers until the problems are corrected.

See also

-- Martin Thompson (, February 10, 2000


As I've posted earlier on this continuing saga: Given that it was installed *December 11* Either (1) This was a system that was rushed through because of y2k concerns, so this is a direct result of the y2k issue or (2) These folks were idiots or high risk oriented to push such a new system through so close to rollover. Either way, my regrets to any of you that have to use this provider.

-- Bud Hamilton (, February 10, 2000.

This is an excellent response, Bud.

The decision to implement a new system only days before the Y2K rollover must be questioned. No competent project manager would have recommended such a risky implementation schedule. I can imagine one of three possibilities, each of which should result in the rolling of heads.

1. They are complete idiots and should be fired for incompetence. 2. They are risk takers who enjoy living on the edge and playing fast and loose with the public's money and should be fired for recklessness. 3. They waited way too long to address the Y2K issue and should be fired for negligence.

That third category likely applies to all the government agencies, states, counties, municipalities, colleges, and school districts for which glitches are being reported on this discussion list. If there is a common thread running through all these reports, it is that they converted to new computer systems this past year. They should have been addressing these issues in 1995 or 1996. Installing new systems at the last minute simply invites trouble. There is inadequate time for testing, user training, and development of interfaces with legacy systems. There seems to be a general lack of understanding of the complexities of enterprise-wide systems within the public sector.

All the posts regarding difficulties at public sector entities are eeriely similar in this regard.

-- Mike Read (, February 10, 2000.

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