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Why do Palo Alto meter readers refuse to knock?

Original post made by Real Slim K, Midtown, on Sep 18, 2012

This incident happened at 8:47 this morning and was reported to Police. Without warning, a large male COPA meter reader apparently vaulted the fence into our backyard--even though there was someone home at the time. When I first phoned to ask, COPA told me that they could not confirm the person, and suggested I phone the police, which I did. Later, I was phoned back, and it WAS them. This man, named Clay did not apologize, but at least he was relatively polite.

However, later, an angry woman phoned back representing the meter readers and told me "how do we know there's someone home?!" When I suggested, a courteous knock might help them find out, she responded, 'my neighborhood is too big, and it would take too long if they had to knock on EVERY door first.' She outright refused to make such a guarantee. What she would do--her only offer through clinched teeth it sounded like on the phone, was to email me a schedule so women and babies at my residence would be less frightened by an abrupt appearance of an unknown man in their back yard before 9 a.m. in the morning.

Again, just who the heck do COPA think they are?? Why oh why can't Palo Alto residents get together and kick these customer-hating aristocrats out? Would I prefer P,G,&E? Of course I would. This never happened once with them in the years I lived elsewhere.

Comments (25)

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Posted by whine
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm

If they knock on every door before checking the meters, I bet dozens of people will complain about the disturbance.

Don't the meter readers always wear bright yellow vests or shirts that say "METER READER"?


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Posted by Real Slim K
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm

That's your serious comment? The noise of several seconds of knocking is worse than the garbage trucks or tree workers? Ridiculous. But you do get points for one thing: I bet even as we speak yellow vests are flying off the shelves to criminals. 'Guess what? Over in Palo Alto, they're so politically correct, all you need is a yellow vest and you can enter any back yard you want!'


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Posted by simple fix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Hire more readers, have them knoch and wait, and wait, and wait.

Hire more office types to answer the calls from the whiners who can't hear the door knocks because they are so busy typing on PAO about airplane noise.

Charge everyone for the newly hired COPA's.

Hire more folks to handle complaints about the increased costs and bureaucracy of COPA.

Simple fix.

Happy to help


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Posted by Real Slim K
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm

...or maybe just do as PG,& E does: ring the doorbell first.

You guys be honest. You see PG,@ E and you feel you must be derisive, on behalf of Julia Roberts's stellar performance. Right?


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Posted by simple fix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I've never had PG&E knock, in 30 plus years.

What on earth are you talking about with: "You see PG,@ E and you feel you must be derisive, on behalf of Julia Roberts's stellar performance. Right?"

"You guys be honest. " Okay, I promise to be honest, here goes: there's no way you wanted that statement to sound as loony as it came out, right?

Honest enough? Right?


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Posted by Real Slim K
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Okay, it's one of her more famous movies, but perhaps it's after VHS so you don't know it, simple.

It was called "Erin Brockavich." You see, in this movie...


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Posted by simple fix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I've met both, thank you. You misspelled her name, and the movie was released 12 years ago.

Why did you derisively bring PG&E into this? "You see PG,@ E and you feel you must be derisive, on behalf of Julia Roberts's stellar performance. Right?"


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Real Slim K
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm

That wikipedia pays for itself and then some, huh? Sorry about the delusional thing, though. Most people don't pretend they 'met' someone when they see them on TV.


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Posted by simple fix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Can't address your odd statement, can you?

"You see PG,@ E and you feel you must be derisive, on behalf of Julia Roberts's stellar performance. Right?"

Yup, we noticed.

As for your other comments, they're easy enough to meet, they both are prolific in their work. Met one on campus; I certainly wasn't alone. It isn't a big deal. Rather like using wikipedia to learn to spell someone's name correctly or look up a date.


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Posted by Real Slim K
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm

It's not odd. I am saying that even if you are supportive of victims poisoned by PG&E back when, I believe that they still would be a better company. I have had them before, such as in San Francisco and San Mateo. I found them superior to the COPA monopoly; much more responsive and polite to customer concerns.

Back to my original point, I have read that there has been a big increase in home-burglaries in Palo Alto, the most in years. Did you read about this? I did. Worrisome you see, especially to women and small children when a large man vaults a fence without knocking before 9 a.m., even when there are people inside. I believe these concerns made by a nanny of small children and my wife are valid.


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Posted by simple fix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm

"I am saying that even if you are supportive of victims poisoned by PG&E back when, I believe that they still would be a better company. I have had them before, such as in San Francisco and San Mateo. I found them superior to the COPA monopoly; much more responsive and polite to customer concerns."

No one brought up PG&E's poisoning of Californians until you did - and in an odd way with a very odd statement. As far as your bringing up PG&E's stellar safety record on the North Peninsula...

Web Link.

Talk all you want.


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Posted by Real Slim K
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Again, I don't find the statement 'odd' at all. What I find odd is in the specific context of the most burglaries in Palo Alto in years, your callous distregard of the feelings of women and young children alone, surprised from their showers and early morning playtime by a strange man in the backyard who could easily have knocked at the front yard rather than jumping a 6 foot wooden fence, unnanounced.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 18, 2012 at 6:22 pm

PG&E didn't knock. They came & went as they needed. We have dogs & often work from home. Then, they'd knock or gesture & we'd bring the dogs in so they could get into the yard.

When I lived in PA, both as child & adult, always in a house, COPA NEVER knocked for meter reading. They kept to a schedule & we all knew the approximate day they'd show up.

As upset as OP is, I think they're overreacting. What has COPA done in the past? Is this a new reader who needs to learn a bit about how not to scare people? I've truly NEVER heard of meter readers being required to knock.


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Posted by Real Slim K
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2012 at 7:20 pm

...but seriously. If you had dogs, and they knocked, and when you were working at home, they knocked, they showed you a courtesy they did not show my wife at 8:47 this morning.


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Posted by Ex-employee
a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Turning the utilities over to PG&E is a great idea. Your electric rates will go up 25% and instead of a general fund transfer profits will go to share holders.

Here's a simple fix, move your meter or your fence so it's easily accessible.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 18, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Really? Palo Alto - that town that is made fun of up & down the peninsula for their high maintenance, self-involved, can't-get-anything-done smugness.

Yeah, EPA. I'm a PA/MP native. How long have you been in the area?

You don't get it - maybe the burglars-are-from-EPA paranoia is clouding your thinking? They didn't knock regularly. When we've been working from home on the days they came by, they knocked or gestured - usually after approaching the back gate, as they came in that direction. Ooops, here a dog bark, then go knock on the door. But this was only so because they were cool & didn't want to get bit. It's not REQUIRED. They could've reported us so that we got a nasty letter warning us to keep dogs in on meter reader day.

Growing up, we had a dog pepper sprayed because the reader was in the yard before they saw the dog.

Either way, I think you're SOL - they don't OWE you anything but a meter reading. To clarify, call & ask what the POLICY is. Why is this an issue now, suddenly? How long have you lived in PA? Meter readers have been doing their thing in your town for decades. If it was required for them to knock, you'd probably have found that out already.


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Posted by CC
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 18, 2012 at 10:34 pm

OK It takes about 5 min of your time to report the meter reading through the city provided web site.
Web Link




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Posted by Real Slim K
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2012 at 6:46 am

Thanks, CC. I will take try your advice.

Very amusing that you are permitted to 'make fun of Palo Alto up and down the peninsula' (and by the way, I don't mind) but one little comment about the er, interesting burg over near Ikea and Home Depot (and the comment was absolutely true), and it's instantly banned. Someone questioned my use of the phrase, 'political correctness.' Look no further than this example. So, in East Palo Alto, they are are known for 'getting things done'. Okay. Learn something new every day. I do intend to google 'SOL' though, since I don't know what that means. Probably has to do with texting or fantasy football, I'm guessing.

Ex-employee, your stats are incorrect. COPA is not 25% cheaper. I have been a customer for both companies within the past 5 years, so mine would be an 'informed opinion'. When in an argument, it serves no one, really, to just make up statistics willy-nilly. and why should I go to all the trouble to 'move my meter or my fence', when all I requested was a simple second doorbell warning?


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 19, 2012 at 10:35 am

Of course your biased, ignorant, inflammatory comment was banned, as it should be. You also don't have your geography correct. How long have you lived in the area? [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] The answer to the question you posted is simply - because they are no required to.


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Posted by Real Slim K
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2012 at 11:10 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

My comment was none of the words you used to characerize it. It was not 'biased, ignorant, or inflammatory,' but somewhat tongue in cheek. It was immediately followed with the words: "but seriously." But all joking aside, what I said was accurate. I merely stated a truth: in this era of most P.A. home burglaries in years, some people in Palo Alto believe that there are people coming from EPA to burglar P.A. homes. I did not add--as I could have, that informed people follow the news and police blotter reports. When this or that crime is traced back later to EPA, they don't place their hands over their ears and Hmmmm.

Yes, yes, I was a "complainer" on behalf of my frightened wife and small children, having seen an unknown large man vault a 6 foot wooden fence into our backyard when it would have been easier simply to ring the doorbell, so the people present could have opened the gate.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2012 at 11:44 am

This is an interesting point. On the one hand we have the police telling us to keep our eyes open and on the other hand we have people jumping fences to reach our backyards and told not to worry.

Firstly, I think all meter readers have yellow vests and carry machines to read the meters. But how easy would a yellow vest and some device be to acquire by someone up to no good.

Secondly, a meter reader should be required to open a gate to reach the meter, not jump a fence. I think if I saw someone jumping a fence into a neighboring backyard before 8.00 am, I would automatically think someone up to no good, not a law abiding citizen doing his job.

Perhaps we should get the Utilities to inform us the rules that the meter readers need to follow.Do they carry ID? Are they allowed to jump fences rather than open gates? Should they keep to 8 - 5 hours and not appear in the early morning or later than 6?

These are good questions and I would like to hear the answers.


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Posted by Real Slim K
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

thanks, Resident for a very civil and non-lawyerly answer. I don't know why people argue so strongly in favor of what COPA (a business w or w/o shareholders) should not HAVE to do for a customer. It's almost like they were intentionally missing the point of my question. I am a reasonably educated and intelligent person, I really am. Responsible job, Hmmm might be surprised. I don't need to be told why COPA doesn't HAVE to be courteous. That would be rather like saying when you see a person carrying lots of boxes and the elevator is about to close, you HAVE to assist them. Of course, you don't HAVE to be polite and courteous. Yet, why wouldn't you, and especially if they were your customer, and when ringing the dang doorbell is such a small request? Again, I never received even a mild apology. That's disappointing to me. It's rather like being told 'that guy wearing wearing a ski mask at night did not take off his ski mask at night, because he DOESN'T HAVE TO! True. But why would he refuse if it frightened his customers?


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Posted by Dogs
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm

funny how someone who makes a series of unsubstantiated allegations (that ring hollow) has spent so much time here and brings up such odd statements about movies and actresses

and then expects to be taken seriously!

prove your claims, instead of strange wanderings -- 'You see PG,@ E and you feel you must be derisive, on behalf of Julia Roberts's stellar performance'

that was so off the wall


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Posted by New Meters
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm

According to Real Slim K. it's obviously time for the City to install meters that can be read by remote at some designated City owned location. Do you want to pay for the new meters? Do you think they are reliable? Let the meter readers in and quite complaining.


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Posted by Real Slim K
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Another COPA apologist. Wonder why most are ashamed to admit their neighborhood? COPA employees, relax. I'm not computer smart enough to trace you. New Meters: how about, no?

I'm starting to 'get it.' COPA reminds some of co-ops from their college days. They have no share-holders. They aren't of the 1%. Some claptrap like that. So, you as a customer should just 'shut up and take it.' Politeness? Courteousness? You don't have those rights. Well, I dissent. Greenwaste as well. Automatic charges, even for vacant buildings and trash cans not being used? You can complain. 'But, that's just the way this non-company does things for X-number of years, you must have just moved here! Of course, you still have to pay if you go on vacation. Shut up, don't complain. Pay it.'

I dissent. Being a customer gives me that right.


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