Opinion

COLUMN: Questionable selection process for this survey

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In the mail last week was a large white envelope, pretentiously addressed to “Business Owner/Manager Mark J Rushton.

Since it has been decades since I could be described thus, at least other than my name (without the initial), my curiosity was piqued.

The document so addressed was from BC Hydro, and related to a “service address” I have on a street other than the one on which my home is located. That “service address,” a second power meter, provides electricity to my well’s pump house.

The document is 28 pages long, and is an incredibly detailed survey of the power usage at the noted “service address.”

My first reaction, since Hydro is pleading relative poverty, and on the day I wrote this increased our power bills by nine per cent, was why didn’t it send just a single sheet of paper noting a website address in which one could complete the survey? Why spend an inordinate amount of money creating the 28-page document, untold sums I assume digesting and collating the information provided by the customer, and mailing costs, when it all could have been done so much cheaper with a simple letter?

In addition, four “lucky” submitters of the survey will win $1,000 gift certificates “to the home improvement retailer of your choice!”

The survey itself is amazingly detailed, wanting to know if my “service address” is a school or university, a food store, restaurant, apartment complex, a place of worship or, surprisingly, a “Non-buildings and Structures.”

Wouldn’t you think, when selecting to whom to send these surveys, Hydro (or in this case survey contractor The Mustel Group) would look at the electrical consumption rate of a “service address,” and realize that at about $250 a year, it is not, as some questions ask, a hospital or shopping mall, but a fricking pump house.

And those questions are only on the first page. It goes on over dozens of questions to inquire as to the structure itself, its construction, height and square footage; air conditioning; heating; operating hours; and, through another 20 questions, the exact type of lighting used in the structure.

For the record, my pump house is about eight feet by eight feet, has one incandescent light bulb, one little infrared heater when winter storms hit, and a one-horsepower pump to drive water up to my house.

And when the power goes out, as it frequently does in the dead of winter I have to race down with a propane heater to ensure nothing freezes up. And, in the meantime, refrain from flushing the toilet.

However, I digress.

I am certain there is value in this survey to educate Hydro on the electrical consumption of major consumers.

On the other hand, don’t you think the agency and survey contractor would have been a little more circumspect in their research as to who actually uses electricity?

Just because someone has more than one power meter, especially one registering a $16 bi-monthly consumption rate during the pleasant seasons, doesn’t mean they’re operating a hotel or manufacturing facility.

While I’m sure in the grand scheme of things, this survey ultimately will be of value to BC Hydro, it’s not hard to believe that the all-in cost of it is equivalent to providing free power to my entire neighbourhood for year.

And on a day when my electricity rates jumped nine per cent, I found that a bit insulting.

 

markrushton@abbynews.com

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