Tuesday, January 24, 2012

German Meter Reading

 About 2 weeks ago we received a postcard in our mailbox and a sign was posted on the door of the apartment building informing us that our water/heat company would be coming for a meter reading on January 24th.  The little box was checked for 11am-1pm to inform us when they would arrive, so we had to be sure to be home during that time to let them in to see all the meters.  This is pretty much the worst time ever for them to come to our house, as it is in the middle of lunch/nap time of the day for us, but rescheduling would be a bigger pain. 

There are 2 different types of meters that the guy came to read.  The first kind he read were the heater meters.  They are these little white boxes with 2 tiny buttons and are actually located on every single one of the heaters in every room of our apartment.  The guy put this fancy electronic reader thing up to the little box and then numbers popped up on the display of said reader thing.  The second kind of meters he read were the water meters that are located in the kitchen and the bathroom. The one in the kitchen is inside the wall, behind a secret trap door, inside the cabinet, under the sink.  The one in the bathroom is behind a pop out section of the tile under the shower’s head.  Additionally, there is a meter in the basement that he had to look at, but I’m not completely sure what that meter is for really. 

I asked the kind gentleman how often this meter reading happens, and he said they only come once per year always in January.  I’m not sure if that is only for our building or if they only come in January to every one of the places that they service.  If that’s the case, I’m set to be super impressed by the coordination that this would actually take.  The logical side of me says that surely there is no way that they actually are that impressively coordinated, and that surely they have devised a better system for checking them all.  Of course, this IS Germany, where customer service, logic, and efficiency seem to exist in wholly independent spheres unaware of one another. 

When we first moved into this apartment, we had to call and schedule a reading of the meters to make sure that we were all paying only for what we specifically used.  I had to call the company, because the lady that we are renting from doesn’t actually speak German (which is really a whole story in and of itself, but I digress).  When I called the company, I was actually being charged a per minute fee for calling customer service, including the time that I was on hold.  I found that completely RIDICULOUS and continue to be flabbergasted by the fact that they have the chutzpah to do that to their customers.  I DID call from the house phone, which was by the way a cheaper rate than calling from my cell phone (though I fail to understand how they made that distinction on their end).  Anyway, the customer service scheduled a nice 4 hour block with the gentleman who would come out to read all the meters on the day that we needed him to—or at least close to it.  For this nice service, we only had to pay a €75 service fee.  When we move out, we will once again have to schedule and pay said fee.  Not looking forward to that one at all actually. 

So, meter reading, who knew it could be so interestingly different? 


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