Angry Shelburne County senior explodes on NSP customer service

Greg Bennett
Published on July 8, 2014
Nova Scotia Power crews are working across western Nova Scotia to get power returned. Some are expected to be waiting until Friday though.

Editor's note: Update to this story. Phyllis Wolfe and her husband had the power returned on Wednesday night, the day after this story was published. She would have called us earlier but her phone service was out.


Phyllis Wolfe is angry.

For four days and counting, she and her husband have been without power since the passage of post tropical storm Arthur.

For two days she tried to call the Nova Scotia Power customer service with no luck.

Frustration over that, and the fact that she and her 84-year-old husband were lugging buckets of water from their well, about 100 metres from her home, led her to blow up at an unlucky customer service representative when she finally got through on Monday night.

“I almost dropped the phone. I was so mad I could hardly speak,” said the 78-year-old Port L’Hebert resident, who unleashed her pent up frustration over the situation on the representative. “I’m not a bitch normally. I feel bad about the way I spoke to that girl last night.”

While she feels terrible about losing her temper, Wolfe says her anger over the situation is still justified.

“It burns me up. I’m sitting in the dark and there’s an automated voice telling me there’s no appreciable outages in your area.”

Wolfe says years ago Nova Scotia Power had local crews of employees out trimming trees and clearing lines in preparation for storms, something she believes the company is doing less of now.

“We used to have crews who knew the area …they knew every pole and line in every backyard there was,” she said. “I talked to a power line guy yesterday who was here from Bridgewater …what does he know about Shelburne County?

She also believes that the executives of the company should be paid less and more focus be placed on preventative maintenance and hiring more repair technicians.

“The CEOs are making four and five million dollars a year and they’re putting our power bills up every other year,” she said. “They do away with our essential workers instead.”

Wolfe says part of her frustration is from the confusion that comes with living in rural community that has its east and west portions separated by a body of water and a county line. Dealing with company representatives who have no idea where her community is, is normal. But she believes too often it adds to the response time for crews.

She noted that last winter she spent four days without power.

“This happens all the time to us,” she said. “We go through this every single storm.”

An Nova Scotia Power spokesperson couldn't comment on Wolfe's specific case but offered that the company was trying its best to rehook customers under extremely challenging circumstances. What began with about 200,000 customers off the grid on Saturday was down to 12,800 customers still without power on Tuesday afternoon.

"Every storm brings lessons and we will be looking into every aspect of our response," said NSP spokesperson Neera Ritcey.