Questar supplies our gas here in Utah. They are a regulated monopoly. 3-4 years ago they installed RF meters so they could get rid of a lot of meter readers and save a bunch of money.
"We've saved our customers millions of dollars," Questar Gas spokesman Chad Jones said earlier this week. "And when we were [reading meters] manually, we had much higher incidents of misreads and disputed bills."
Turns out they didn't test 500 of the meters over the last several years and they under reported the usage. So Questar decided to stick 500 customers with a $600,000 gas bill. Because they legally can do so. And what's silly is they could have caught this years ago by writing a simple computer program which compared past bills with new bills and flagged the difference if there was a wide variance. But they didn't. Instead they told their customers it was their fault because when their bills went out and were much lower, the customers should have called Questar and said there was a problem.
Several years ago I was at a get together and had a chance to talk to Keith Rattie, the CEO of Questar. Keith is a great supporter of the community and very involved with multiple charities. Now Questar's latest profit was $1.6B. And investors and the board have done quite well on their stock (thank you very much). I think Keith should step in and have Questar cut their marketing budget by say $300K and split the difference with their customers.
First off, they would get a lot more bang for their marketing buck by doing so and secondly if they don't, our State legislators can be extremely punitive when they choose, which is the downside of any monopoly.
Are you focused on maximizing profits or maximizing your customer experience?