Thursday, June 09, 2016

Life in America's greatest third-world city...utility tag-team edition.

So when I got back in town the other day, in my stack of mail was a water bill from New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. It showed a very high balance including a notice of disconnection and a reconnection fee that had to be paid before my water would be turned back on.

I walked over to the sink and turned it on. And water flowed. I then saw that they were still demanding the amount that I originally paid for my first month here. Checking my bank account, I quickly pulled up a copy of that canceled check showing that the city had received those funds when they were first due.


So yesterday morning, I drove down to the S&B office, waited around for a bit, then sat down with one of their staff for an explanation.

"Oh, one problem is that you never signed an agreement for service at your address," she said.

Sure I had, I replied.

"Nope. We don't have one," she said, printing one out. Not for your second account.


Their system was showing two account in my name, one at my address at 4025 Elm st. (Not really my address) and one for 5025 Elm St. (Really not really my address.)

"I just have one house," I explained. "I live at 4025 Elm. The other one is a mistake."

"Are you sure?" the lady asked, seriously.

"Why would I have two houses with the exact same addresses save one number? That's a typo. And it's your typo."

"So you don't have two houses?" she asked, as if the concept of an S&W board screw-up was beyond the realm of possibility. I assured her that I did not.

But sure enough, somehow my payment had been applied to the incorrect address and MY address was shown as having been in non-payment status...and they responded by turning off the water at the house that I didn't live at.

You can't make this sort of thing up.

Finally they fixed things by eliminating the bad address from my file and transferring the money paid to it to my correct address, placing me back in good standing again, except of course for the time lost down at their office fixing their screw-up. I'll never get that time back. (Fortunately I stopped in while at work, so that's pretty much a wash.)

Then after work, I came home to a quiet house...a house with no fans turning, a house with no air conditioning blowing. A house with no lights. WTF?

Entergy, the other incompetent utility in New Orleans, had turned my power off. A call to their office showed that it was done also for non-payment, but this time it happened because, even after I changed the power over to my name and set up an account when I moved in, they still sent the bill to the old address, that of the realtor that I bought the house from. And when that went unpaid--and when the disconnect notice that they sent brought no check--they switched off.

Power was turned right back on within twenty minute of that call, but I'm not sure who I should be pissed at...Entergy, myself for not noticing that I hadn't gotten a bill yet, or the crummy realtor for not forwarding the bill or calling me about it.

Oh--and don't even mention the DMV down here...there's a reason that my vehicle is STILL sporting it's West Virginia tags.

How does any business ever get done down here with this level of inefficiency? And there's no recourse against any of them no matter how stupid the screw-up.

"Laissez les bon temps roulez", my ass.


  1. Welcome to Louisiana! Your discomfort is our pleasure! You'll find that this kind of incompetence is more the norm than the exception - enjoy!

  2. Government! Bastions of efficiency and service!
    Just ask any progressive...


  3. A good friend of mine, now deceased, moved from Illinois to Louisiana. His stories, similar to yours, always ended with "No wonder these idiots lost."
    (By the way, Illinois, for all its famous corruption, is fairly efficient in its provision of services. The politicians just take a cut of everything.)

  4. Now you know why people shook their heads when you moved to NOLa. Welcome to Orleans Parish. Wait until you try to get a brake tag.

    1. "Brake tag"???

    2. Automobile inspection sticker to the rest of the world. Orleans Parish has their own system separate from the State.

  5. Heh... Welcome to NOLA...

  6. Do yourself a favor and do as much dmv business as possible online.

  7. Try doing any sort of business in Illinois. Despite what 1811 thinks, they can't do much right, and nothing efficiently.

    THen, in the greater Chicago area, you gotta bribe them just to get to that level of incompetence.

    Seems to be bad wherever there is Democrat leadership....

    1. By "providing services" I was referring to things like issuing driver's licenses and plates, collecting taxes (they're particularly good at that), and even appealing tax bills; in other words, the things that affect the majority of citizens.
      I can't speak to starting or running a business, since I never did it. I do know that Chicago's level of corruption is such that a number of large companies refuse to do business with them. Chicago buys nothing from the manufacturer; everything has to go through an "approved" (i.e., connected) vendor. The city then buys it at a gigantic markup, which goes into the politicians' pockets. That's what I meant by "taking a cut."

  8. Anonymous11:20 PM

    +1 Guffaw in AZ

  9. Go out to westwego or reserve to do DMV business.

  10. i used to work at a dmv in florida. people who were smart would drive a little way to get to a branch office. the big city branches were overwhelmed and had people come in who had no idea they could find a branch nearer where they lived, and others who eschewed the mail in option to stand in the heat with hundreds of others at our court house office. go figure.
    of course, by the time they got to us they were hot and mad.

  11. Not only does my water come from the city government, so does my electricity. I own a 2 flat apartment. For a time we lived in both apartments. Apparently there is no way to pay those bills by mail with the same checking account, they will apply whatever you send to the bill you've already paid too much on (from the last round of this idiocy) and send a disconnect notice to the one you were trying to pay. And they can't transfer any of the 4 months credit to the account you were trying to pay, that's from a different account.