Monday, August 3, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Meter Reader

One of our summer interns is highlighting different work areas. Here is her take on our meter readers. Longtime readers may recall the day I shadowed a meter reader. Read about it here.

A Day in the Life of a Meter Reader

In this series of “A Day in the Life…,” the spotlight shines on MLGW meter readers – both their courageous abilities and what they encounter on a daily basis. I had the opportunity of accompanying one of the Division’s meter readers on one of their routes. Steven Henderson, who works out of the North Service Center, has been with the company for four years and would attest that meter reading is a physically challenging, but satisfying job. “Frequently, you encounter engaging customers on your regular routes who make your job more enjoyable,” said Johnson.

Johnson described his years of working with the company and most importantly the procedures of properly reading customers’ meters. Reading a water meter was fairly easy; however the gas and electric meters were somewhat difficult to read. Johnson and other meter readers explained that the electric and gas meters, which have dials, are read from right to left. After a couple of homes and approximately ten meters, I was able to successfully read all three types of meters. Possessing good memory proves to be a great advantage when you walk the same route regularly. While I unknowingly strolled pass meters, Johnson knew their exact locations. Even when meters were hidden by over-grown grass or shielded by high bushes, Johnson could identify the utilities’ site.

A meter reader encounters more obstacles (transportation, dogs, weather, customers, etc.) on a regular day than other Division employees. Even though meter readers are required to drive a company vehicle to their designated area, they are also required to walk from house to house. So, being physically fit is essential due to extended hours of walking. Rain or shine, weather rarely prevents a meter reader from fulfilling their duties; they are obligated to work under any circumstance. Recently, the June 12 storms created obstacles for meter readers; either debris covered the meters, days were extended or delayed or the skip counts were increased on the account of the inability to obtain a reading.

It is also crucial for a meter reader to be cautious when retrieving a reading that is located in a customer’s back yard. Meter readers occasionally run across customers who own dogs that are not friendly to strangers or those who have fences that are locked, but conveniently they are able to use a scope device which allows them to read meters from remote distances.

There are facts that employees and customers may not know about meter readers and the skills required of them when they are out in the field. For one, with a good glance they are able to read a meter in less than two seconds, which is extremely beneficial when you have between 700-900 readings to retrieve in a day’s time. Many people may think that meter readers are the ones who compose the estimate of customers’ meters, but they are either able to obtain the reading or another department in the company formulates the estimations.

Truly, meter readers have a difficult job, but primarily they have an important job that is essential in the customer-company relationship. Meter reading is a necessary process in the company which allows the customer and MLGW to recognize the amount of utilities consumed; this information is critical to MLGW’s billing accuracy. MLGW salutes its meter readers and the hard work they perform every day!

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