[RFI] I will have you arrested

Roger (K8RI) k8ri at rogerhalstead.com
Wed Feb 10 00:52:47 PST 2010

Frank Haas KB4T wrote:
> I can only speak to what happens in Florida but I suspect the process
> is more or less the same in most states. 
> The first step is to contact the utility's customer care call center
> and request an interference investigation. If the utility makes a good
> faith effort but is unsuccessful, it's likely the utility will give up
> and ignore the problem by letting it fall through convenient cracks.
> As the customer, you are responsible for continuing the fight to keep
> the utility working on the problem. But how do you get their
> attention??
> The ARRL and FCC are generally a waste of time.
It depends on what you expect.  Certainly they are a waste of time if 
you expect them to do anything concrete right away or even your 
immediate future, but *sometimes* it does well to be able to show you 
have contacted all available routes.
>  The FCC won't get
> involved in any significant way unless the interference affects
> aviation or public safety systems.
OTOH, I'm a pilot, IFR rated and one of the instrument approaches to our 
airport is *directly* over my house. IOW the centerline for RNAV 06 
bisects the roof of my house and I'm only about a half mile from the 
Final approach Fix (FAF). so if it bothers me, it likely *will* bother 
the instruments at least in some of the planes flying the approach. If 
the problem is intermittent which they often are they are unlikely to 
spend a lot of their time hunting before contacting the utility.
>  Other interference issues are
> essentially ignored until all other avenues have been exhausted and a
> sufficient period of time has passed i.e. 10 years. It took the FCC 10
> years to fine a Florida utility for failing to resolve an interference
> issue. Do you want to wait 10 years?? Probably not. So what to do?
 From what I've seen, many utilities are good at saying " the problem 
has been addressed" so unless a number of people are experiencing the 
same problem you basically start over until the FCC runs out of patience.
> Calling the ARRL may make you feel all warm and fuzzy but the League
> has no enforcement power whatsoever. Letters from the League may
> inspire attention until the utility realizes that the League can't
> assess penalties or fines. Letters from the League are amusing reading
> but they are powerless and carry no meaningful weight. 
> If the utility is unable or unwilling to resolve the interference
> issue in a "reasonable" amount of time, the usual next step is to
> contact the utility's customer care again (and again and again, if
> necessary) and ask for a Customer Care Supervisor. Take a moment to
> remind yourself to be POLITE and PATIENT. VERY, VERY POLITE and VERY,
> VERY PATIENT. Above all don't even think about making threats. I
> repeat, DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT MAKING THREATS. Nor should you quote
> Federal Law or State Law. Customer care people just take calls. They
> usually don't have any other influence. They don't know all of the
> company policies and practices (usually). They don't know how things
> get done (usually) and they don't need or want your invective or
> threats. There is significant turnover in customer care departments so
> it's likely the person you talk to is new and still hasn't mastered
> all the scripts on the computer screen yet. They just collect info and
> pass it on. 
I've mentioned this before, but we used to live near the head end of a 
very long line so our voltage was near the upper limit. Then we started 
going through light bulbs like crazy.  I measured the voltage as being 
very high.  I called and they passed me on to an engineer.  He wanted to 
know how I knew the voltage was high and I replied "I measured it" and 
of course he wanted to know how I knew my meter was accurate or not.  I 
replied, "I calibrate meters where I work, IOW I'm a calibration tech.  
He sighed and said he wished I hadn't said that as it was going to mean 
a lot of paper work. At that point I asked if he'd mind if I reworded 
the complaint to say "We've been using more light bulbs than normal and 
"I think" the voltage might be a bit high.  I rarely had any problems 
but as long as he worked there I sure did get good service.
> Once you have a lock on POLITE and PATIENT and have assured yourself
> that you won't make threats, make the call and ask for a customer care
> supervisor so you can ESCALATE your case. Supervisors in customer care
> talk to supervisors in other departments and the matter gets looked at
> again. This may stimulate a more professional or qualified response.
> The same rules about your behavior apply here. The customer care
> supervisor will gather the facts and pass the info along to those who
> can do something. Let them do their job peacefully. 
> If the escalation doesn't resolve the problem in 90 days or so, the
> next step is to contact the state regulatory body that oversees
> utility operations. In Florida, that's the Public Service Commission.
> The PSC (or whatever your state's regulatory body might be called)
> usually commands immediate attention because they control what the
> utility can charge for electricity. If there are lots of complaints in
> the state body's file when the utility comes asking for a rate hike,
> the utility has to explain how those complaints were handled.
> Utilities don't like that. They don't want anything standing in the
> way of a potential rate hike. 
> In Florida, utilities usually give state regulatory inquiries the
> highest priority. Department heads, supervisors, investigators and
> anyone else related to the case are queried and steps are taken to
> find a solution that will result in the fastest and quietest
> resolution. 
> This is usually as far as you have to go to get things fixed. If the
> utility simply doesn't have the talent and equipment to find and
> correct the problem, they usually call in a contractor (Mike Martin of
> RFI Services) to locate the problem and work with a crew to fix it. 
> Only after years have passed and the utility and the state have
> thrashed through the problem will the Feds even think about getting
> involved. Even then it will take more years for them to investigate
> and decide upon a fine. Complaining to the FCC is a waste of time. 
> The bottom line here is be persistent. Don't take no for an answer. Be
> polite at all times but be persistent. Your patience will be tested to
> the ultimate extreme (unless I'm working your case.) If you go
> ballistic and start yelling and screaming, you will suffer with your
> problem for years because no one wants to deal with a lunatic or a
> discourteous whacko. Remember: you get what you give.
The FAA is even less accommodating if you don't appear to be on top of 
your game let alone disagreeable. I know of one pilot who was messing up 
his approaches that was sent out to the North to hold. He really wasn't 
on top of his game and neglected to tell ATC how bad the weather was out 
there, or declare an emergency.  The plane became loaded up with ice. He 
and his family died in the resultant crash, yet all he'd had to do was 
declare an emergency and even the airliners would have had to wait until 
he got that thing down.  Doing the proper things in order are required.

I appreciate your information.

Thanks and 73

Roger (K8RI)
> Use the power you have as a customer and consumer. Work with the
> utility's customer care division. Make sure they know that you can go
> to the state regulatory agency if your issue isn't fixed in a
> reasonable amount of time. Do it nicely. No one responds well to
> threats. If that doesn't work, make the call to the state regulatory
> agency and learn about your rights. Do what they require (paperwork)
> and let them advocate for you. Keep good records. Get names and
> numbers. Always ask what the next step will be and when it will be
> taken. 
> No utility wants bad PR or state intervention. They will usually bend
> over backwards when the state comes calling. Remember: Be polite and
> patient. If you behave like a lunatic your problem will never get
> resolved...ever. 
> Good luck. 
> 73,
> Frank N. Haas KB4T
> Professional Interference Investigator
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kelly Johnson [mailto:n6kj.kelly at gmail.com] 
> Sent: Tuesday, February 09, 2010 5:54 PM
> To: kb4t at arrl.net
> Cc: rfi at contesting.com
> Subject: Re: [RFI] I will have you arrested
> All well and good, but...what if the local utility won't do anything
> after you pinpoint the pole?  I have been trying to get a bad pole
> fixed now for 2.5 years.  They've been out here more than once, but
> they have so far been unwilling to cut power to the neighborhood long
> enough to rebuild the pole with 12KV lines on top.  They will look at
> the pole.  They will listen.  They've even tightened a bolt or two on
> the lower half of the pole, but they won't get near the top of the
> pole.  Too bad I can't arrest the CEO of PG&E!
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