Thursday, 1 March 2007


Just have to say. Western Power and their commercial arm Synergy are total bull. We transfer to the electric account every payday, using B-Pay. It generally keeps us ahead of the bill, sometimes a bit behind. But it's generally staying level.

I've been home a few weeks so the aircon has been on a bit longer than normal. The bill has blown out - and they send us a Warning Of Disconnection Notice. Never ever have they sent us a Get Out Of Jail Free card when we were ahead, not even a bunch of flowers for giving them our money to collect interest on for a few weeks. So this is total crap. We'll pay it this week but it's just another example of letting the computer make all the decisions and alienating the customer.

It would be sort of understandable, even if not totally acceptable, if the addition of another money hungry organisation had meant we get some kind of better service. But we don't. Western Power still generates the electricity and now Synergy bills for it and collects their fee along the way.

And it might not be total crap, if the splitting of Western Power into two companies had resulted in a leaner meaner Western Power which was putting itself fully into the breach and supplying the power it is contracted by the State government (= us!) to supply.

But that isn't happening. Western Power / Synergy are begging us not to use too much power in TV ads because they aren't able to do what they contracted to do, which is to supply enough energy to meet the State's needs.

In December a power bump took out my personal laptop, and most likely that was also the second-last straw for my server grade web server which died today but has been having issues since that earlier bump. Western Power say that they aren't responsible for that particular bump and refuse to replace the laptop because it was a "bird strike." I have yet to see the photo of that particular bird so I remain a bit skeptical, sorry.

But that kind of attitude makes me wonder how they would take being told that they also initiated the delayed breakdown of a very robust server as well. I wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell is my guess...

Here is Victim Number 1 - my Toshie 4600 laptop, sadly the hard drive and hard drive controllers are no longer working:

Victim Number Two, Intel server dual PIII 1Gb RAM SCSI disks:

Yes I realise I've put the server out of chronological order - but as I'm fairly certain that the December power bump started the failures which led to the server finally being unable to cope with today's power bump, I say this is the beginning of the end for this particular piece of gear. It started rebooting, began having weirdness in the power start circuitry, and the drives became noisy and subsequently three of four SCSI drives have failed.

And I'd be less angry with that overdue notice if they'd just own up to wrecking my equipment instead of blaming everything else, but they are just blameless and innocent and will not acknowledge any blame. I know there has to be a problem on this power circuit because I have lost so much gear to power surges it's not funny - and I do know when something is down to power and when it's down to other factors because I've worked with electricians for years, am an electronics hobbyist, and as a system administrator have run server rooms full of sensitive equipment for years. This is NOT due to other factors.

Oh yes, where was I? I managed to score an older laptop from a good friend and used that. It's much slower but at least I could keep my website current (while the server was up and working, anyway...) and remote work for clients, and do all my other work. Thank God for friends! But to reiterate an old TV ad catchline - "But wait! There's more!"

A week ago the evaporative air conditioner died, of unknown causes. All I know is that it was running, everything was fine, and then it stopped running in the middle of a very warm day, making life impossible for me with my emphysema. The air conditioner tech was here today and removed the fusion damaged motor. Fusion Damaged - you know where fusion comes from I hope? Yep, down the power lines. There was no power disturbance the day the motor fused that I was aware of, yet our voltage was high enough to fuse a fairly robust electric motor.

Victim Number Three - evaporative airconditioning motor:

And right after the aircon tech left today, it started to rain and suddenly there was a flicker in the power, all the clocks reset in the house. Then another one, and another one. Then there was a fairly loud clunk as the power surged again and then died altogether, and then silence. Including the laptop which I only had thanks to the generosity of a good friend. As luck will have it, there is one more laptop here I can use and I'm using it now. It's not portable as the lid is bolted open with meccano bits and the battery is a 15 minute proposition at the most, so really it's totally unsuitable for my needs. My options are getting more and more limited, and I'm running out of generous friends!

The server refused to restart today after the power bump, and for the last two hours I've been sucking down my pride in my workmanship and replaced a server grade machine with a very old P4 PC to get my website running again.

Victim Number Four - Toshiba 4200 laptop:

So now I am really really peeved. Two laptops one server and one motor are on the bill so far, and I'm running out of patience with them. I might just package the whole lot up and send it to them along with several pounds of butter and instructions. Or I might take them myself and dump them in some reception area at Synergy or Western Power. Or maybe I'll set up in front of their offices with the dead gear piled around me and a big poster put up to shame them. All I know is that I am very distressed and that this is my next biggest incentive to install a solar installation, because I could do a far better job of keeping my gear safe than they have.

That make four pieces of equipment in three months, an impressive gallery of ruined gear for such a short timespan:

Over the last four years at this place I've attributed the steady stream of modem and PC deaths to bad luck, old equipment, and whatever else. But it now occurs to me that there has to be a problem in this area. This just isn't normal is it? I live in a capital city for Hedaven's sake!

The money trail so far - one laptop I've had for years and which would probably cost $1500 to replace, one server grade tower with four SCSI disks (now only one disk left useable, not the boot disk unfortunately) at least $3500 if I replace it with a low-end Dell, one air conditioner motor which will cost between $700 and $1200 to replace, and another toshiba laptop which will cost around $900 to replace. Around seven or eight thousand dollars damage in all.

I'm about to submit a new claim to Synergy for the server and the second laptop, and hopefully our insurance will cover the air conditioning motor. If it doesn't well we're basically stuffed, I use my laptop daily, I do web work and IT work and it is the one indispensable part of my tool kit, and I've now had two destroyed. I need a decent server because I'm attempting to make money by selling an e-book and my ideas online. And because I have emphysema, I haven't been able to work in the rest of the house for a week now, because the only other air conditioning in the house is in my bedroom and I've been confined here almost completely for most of that time...

I really hope they see their way clear to clear these amounts up because I can't afford to live like this. Please pass this URL around to people, hopefully it will get to someone at Synergy/Western Power and they will see how miserable they've made one household...

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