Hydro-Sherbrooke gives local family the runaround

Photo: Gordon Lambie
By: 
Gordon Lambie
Staff Writer

Timothy Crook, who lives with his family in Sherbrooke’s Jacques-Cartier Borough, explained to the Record on Tuesday that he has just made his way out of a customer service maze set up by Hydro-Sherbrooke, the city’s municipal power utility, following a mix-up that saw his family’s power cut off with no notice earlier this month. Crook said that although the utility was in the wrong, it took five different efforts, four over the phone in French and one in writing in English, to get out of paying a $225 emergency activation fee.

“We are satisfied with the outcome, but regret that it took this much effort,” Crook said, expressing frustration and disappointment with the utility that he said he had never had any trouble with when living in Sherbrooke eight years ago.

In a copy of the letter the resident sent to Hydro-Sherbrooke on Tuesday, Crook explained that he, his wife, and their two young children moved back to Sherbrooke and purchased a home at the end of the month of August. He fully admits to having assumed that the process of registering for the power utility had been taken care of by the notary and takes full responsibility for the fact that Hydro-Sherbrooke was not properly informed of the transfer of ownership of the house.

On September 17, while Crook was out of the country on a business trip, his wife returned home to find a notice on the door addressed “to the occupant” indicating that the house was not registered with the power utility and giving 24 hours notice that the power would be shut off if no one called to sign up. The notice was dated the 17th, but Crook said that it quickly became clear that the power had already been cut off.

“That being the case, and as she had to bathe and feed our five and three year old children while I was out of the country on business, she contacted Hydro Sherbrooke to communicate your error and have our electricity reactivated,” Crook wrote. “She was advised that there would be a $225.00 activation fee, which she immediately contested due to our power having been prematurely cut off.”

Though the resident said that the utility has now agreed to waive that fee, Crook said that it took three more phone calls and Tuesday’s letter to get to anyone who seemed to be able to do anything about the matter. Along the way, he said that he and his wife encountered agents and a manager who were in one case, understanding but unable to change anything, and in the others outright rude.

In the end Crook spoke with Hydro Sherbrooke’s Director of Finance, who he said was very apologetic and mortified that it took four verbal communications and a written complaint to get the matter resolved.
The City of Sherbrooke informed The Record that it does not comment on particular files when it comes to complaints or concerns, but said that the normal procedure in the case of a warning is to give a 24 hour window before cutting off power.

“If (power was cut off prematurely) in this case, it was likely an error on the part of a technician,” said city communications agent Louis Gosselin.

Crook said that he and his family are happy to see the situation resolved, but are generally frustrated that getting to this point took so much time and effort. The Sherbrooke resident shared that he was particularly upset about the way his wife was treated in her initial phone call given the stressful situation that she was in at the time.

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