Wednesday, August 27, 2008

You sometimes have to wonder about the point of it all

I've given the Energy Australia online reporting system a few tries in the last week as a test to see whether I could get a few substations cleaned up.  For each report, I included the substation asset number and a link to the blog entry with some photos and a map showing the location of the substation.

I got two emails like this today:


Thank you for your enquiry.

I could not access your link. In order to process your request, please advise the location (street address including suburb) of the substation.

Should you require any further information or assistance, please do not hesitate to call us on 13 15 35 or to contact us via  return e-mail (please reply with history).

Yours sincerely,

Customer Service Representative

 ------------------------------------------------ Summary of your request  ------------------------------------------------

DATE: 22/08/2008 09:46:10

COMMENTS: Substation 3374 has graffiti all over it.  Please arrange to get it cleaned up.

Photos and details at this link:


I've been in the same boat as this customer service rep, where the IT department has decided to block access to certain sites for reasons that are clear to no one in particular, so I can sympathise.

However, what I find slightly incredible is that the customer service department of Energy Australia has no access to the asset register listing where all its substations are.  Having worked with Asset Registers before on ERP systems, I know that where possible, every major asset has some sort of address field associated with it.  One mob I worked with gave a few staff a GPS unit (back when they were expensive and rare) and sent them off to visit every location where they had equipment so that every item that they owned was geocoded to within 10 metres.

I'm sure Energy Australia have done the same.  I worked with a bloke once that told me about a system that one of the electricity distributors in NSW has where you can do a virtual flyby down all their transmission lines - I think they shot a lot of footage from helicopters when they were cleaning the high voltage towers (which they do with high pressure hoses from helicopters - you've got to keep the dust down or they catch fire).

Well, at least I now know that the customer service reps at Energy Australia are faced with some limitations and restrictions, so I can tailor my approach accordingly.  I'll just have to spoon feed them the old fashioned way.

Imagine phoning McDonalds to tell them that there was a problem at their store in George St, and they responded with, "I don't know where that store is - and I have no way of finding out - can you please be more precise?"


Anonymous said...

It's not spoon feeding moron! Their website asks for the address details. You've read it haven't you?

Ever thought the additional information is asked incase someone gives the wrong asset number. Having a asset register is all good, but not much help when the wrong number is provided. The address provides a means of checking the asset number provided matches the physical location.

And your example of the McDonalds store in George Street is not a great one. There's more than one McDonalds on George Street, so the request for more information is valid. You've just confirmed the need for the street number and nearest corner street to locate the store.

Not Somebody Else's Problem said...

Point taken. Maybe using the McDonalds in George St was a bad example. Perhaps the McDonalds at the Yass truck stop would have been more pertinent.

As for the asset number, when I take a photo of a substation, I always include the asset number in the photo so that it can be read by anyone who cares to take a look.

I have read the website regarding providing an address - I did that before I starting calling them and reporting substations. However, my experience has been that providing an address for a lot of this stuff is really not as easy as it sounds. There are two substations quite close together on Lilyfield Rd, and they back onto the railway line. The only way to properly differentiate between them is by their asset tag (although they both need cleaning, so it makes no difference really).

But I take your point that if they asked for an address, I should have given them one.