Left out in the cold (water)

Print Article

About three years ago, a consumer, not a member of Kootenai County Electric co-op, bought a super duper brand new water heater from Kootenai Electric Cooperative. Because he was not a member (he lives in the Silver Valley), he had to pay more than members of the co-op pay for the H2O heater. No problem.

After about a year, he said, one of the heating elements burned out. He drove over to the co-op’s office and bought a replacement.

Another year went by and another heating element went out. Same drill, he drove over and bought another element, mind you at the higher non-member price.

About two weeks ago, yet another heating element went out. He called over to see if they had one in stock. They said yes, but they couldn’t sell it to him because he was not a member of the co-op! He was told that in January of this year, the Finance Department decided not to sell anything to non-co-op members — at any price. The clerk he talked to told him to just order it online from Amazon.

I contacted KEC and here’s the response I got:

“Hi Bill, Scott let me know you recently contacted him with an inquiry about KEC’s ability to sell products to non-members. Kootenai Electric Cooperative solely exists to serve our members and we operate on a not-for-profit basis. In 2017, we made an organizational decision to stop selling appliances and other products to non-members to safeguard our tax-exempt status for our members. Since then, we have directed non-members to reputable retail outlets, such as the Home Depot and Amazon, who also sell these products.

Thank you,

Erika Neff

Communications Coordinator

Kootenai Electric Cooperative”

NEWS FLASH: Not everybody is on the Internet!

My question is: How come Kootenai Electric was willing to sell this guy the water heater but not willing to “grandfather” him in to buying parts that go bad, or at least informed BEFORE he needed a part? Sounds to me like a bunch of utility bureaucrats and bad policy. Further, I wonder if this was a decision by the Board of Directors or just some company bureaucrat? Communications coordinators also need to be aware of the public relations aspect of communications.

•••

DMV UPDATE: My friend Michael, a savvy IT guy, called me to tell me about an app for your smartphone. It’s called QLess. It really works! Try it.

•••

MY FRIEND NETTI: Netti is my senior friend and fellow consumer who has a novel way to get rid of telemarketers and scammers. She tells them to “*&%&$ OFF and die” and then hangs up.

She called to remind me that I can save a handful of money on a VA loan or refi because I’m a “service-connected” disabled veteran. There’s a quick tip that could save all disabled veterans some substantial money.

OUR NEW THEME SONG: I heard this while surfing consumer protection websites a couple of weeks ago. It’s worth a listen: https://bit.ly/1Ih8fwc

Thanks Netti!

•••

MEASLES OUTBREAK NEXT DOOR: Washington is reporting a measles outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a warning that the old disease is making a comeback, largely because some parents are not having their children vaccinated against measles. Here’s the link: https://bit.ly/2iMFK71

Some people are dead set against having children vaccinated. In my experience, these are usually the parents who have never had measles as an adult. When an adult gets measles, they usually get really sick. Measles, like polio, is pretty much a forgotten disease. I believe kids should be vaccinated. If you disagree, I respect your right to disagree.

While we’re on the subject, check out: https://bit.ly/2jAP0Hv

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine protects against cancers caused by HPV infection. HPV is a common virus that infects teens and adults. About 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year.

HPV infection can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women and penile cancer in men. HPV can also cause anal cancer, cancer of the back of the throat (oropharynx), and genital warts in men and women.

•••

SATELLITE TV BLUES: “I want to disconnect.” These are the four magic words that will usually get you the service and attention you deserve.

ALL the companies that supply pay television, cable or satellite (Dish or DirecTV) are fighting a losing battle to keep their subscribers. People are figuring out that with offerings from Apple TV or Roku, they can have a great selection of programs to choose from for a lot less money every month.

On the other hand, maybe you don’t want to buy or learn to use a new gadget. All you want is to watch your regular shows. (I had Dish TV for more than 20 years before I finally disconnected because their service was so bad AND it seemed like the price would go up almost every few months.) When I called to disconnect they offered me a much lower rate to stay. I left anyway. They should have offered lower rates AND better service. I would still be one of their subscribers.

•••

OATMEAL IS TOTALLY HEALTHY — MAYBE: From WebMD (a great website I recommend): “Lab tests of cereals and snack bars made with oats found that many are tainted with the weed killer glyphosate. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the widely used pesticide Roundup, which has been linked to cancer.

“The tests were commissioned by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group after internal FDA emails surfaced last year showing chemists at the agency were testing wheat, corn, and oat foods for glyphosate and had found ‘a fair amount in all of them,’ but had not yet released those results to the public. The emails were obtained by investigative journalists working for the nonprofit U.S. Right to Know.”

You can read the original article at: https://wb.md/2nLlmUh

Pay attention to what you put in your mouth. I’m not trying to scare anyone, just inform. (If we stopped doing and eating everything that gives little white lab mice cancer, we’d probably just sit quietly in the corner of a dark room until we die.)

•••

NEW TELEPHONE NUMBER: In a sincere effort to be more accessible, I’ve changed my telephone number to 699-BILL (699-2455). Yeah, I know, these days you need to dial our area code 208, but if you can’t remember our area code, chances are I can’t help you anyway. P.S. — A BIG thank you to my friend Lander, for making the number switch possible!

•••

PRESUMPTIVE SCAM ADS: If you get emails, bills in the mail, or telephone calls about goods or services you don’t remember ordering — BEWARE! That’s one of the latest evolutions of the scammers and practitioners of high-pressure sales. Your memory is not failing. If you get targeted by one of these communications and don’t know whether it’s real or not — call me. We’ll sort through it together.

•••

REMEMBER BILL BROOKS: “He’s On Your Side”

•••

I have many more tips and interesting cases that I’m working on. Call me at my NEW NUMBER: 208-699-2455, (208-699-BILL) or email me at brookshomes@gmail.com. You can follow me at www.billbrooks.us. I am available to speak about consumerism to schools, and local and civic groups. Bill Brooks is a consumer advocate and the Broker and Owner of Bill Brooks Real Estate in Coeur d’Alene.

Print Article

Read More Bill Brooks

Don’t get stung by change to VA benefits

November 12, 2018 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Attention veterans: If you are a veteran covered under VA medical benefits, this could impact you. The Veteran’s Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act (The Millennium Act) was passed in 1999, but ...

Comments

Read More

Consumer advice: Hackers are cracking your email, people

November 08, 2018 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press EDITOR’S NOTE: Consumer advocate Bill Brooks continues to recover from surgery after fracturing a bone in his leg. He’d like to let his readers know that this column is in great hands with Terri Dick...

Comments

Read More

Beware deceptive calls about your Medicare

November 05, 2018 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press The government started mailing new Medicare cards in April 2018 and they expect to have the process completed by April 2019. We’ve received some calls from local readers asking when they can expect t...

Comments

Read More

Consumer advice: Halloween has passed but zombies linger

November 01, 2018 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press There is an actual term for debt that has come back from the dead to haunt you. Zombie debt (also known as ghost debt) is a dormant debt that is resurrected by debt collectors and is designed to get ...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2018 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X