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Customer Describes APCo Contractor as ‘One in a Million’

by on April 12, 2017
Pat O’Connor, left, rescued George and Marla Blanks after several of their appliances were damaged at their Lynchburg, Va., home.

(Story by Teresa Hall)

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Marla Blanks is an unassuming Lynchburg, Va., great-grandmother with a heart-warming tale about a recent experience she had with an Appalachian Power contractor. Hers is a story she is willing to share as an example of how to treat a customer.

“He’s one in a million to us, and your company is blessed to have him,” said Blanks as she described Asplundh Supervisor Pat O’Connor, while pointing to the new appliances in her kitchen. “I think he did a wonderful thing.”

In late February, Blanks and her husband, George, lost power to their home while an Asplundh crew was cutting a large dead oak tree adjacent to their house.

The Blanks reported the problem to Appalachian Power, and Line Servicer A.J. Chisom arrived and discovered a broken neutral wire. He suspected that as the tree was cut, a limb or branch contacted the service drop and damaged the neutral. Chisom fixed the wire, and service was restored in the afternoon.

About an hour later, the Blanks discovered their stove, microwave, coffee maker and cordless phones weren’t working, and called the power company. Chisom returned to the couple’s home and confirmed the damage. The Blanks did not have a way to heat their food. A concerned Chisom contacted APCo Claims Adjuster Peggy Wysong.

Wysong would process and send the damage claim to Asplundh, but she knew that reimbursement could take some time. Because the Blanks were an older couple and possibly living on a fixed income, Wysong didn’t know if they had the financial means to purchase new appliances and await reimbursement. After receiving a damage claim order, Wysong sent an email to O’Connor that noted her concern.

Marla Blanks with her new microwave and stove.

Unable to reach the Blanks on their damaged home phone, O’Connor drove to the couple’s house. When he saw a wheelchair ramp leading to the front porch and met the Blanks, he said his gut told him what to do.

“I asked Mrs. Blanks if I could take her shopping so that she could cook a hot meal that night,” said O’Connor. He and a stunned Marla Blanks soon set out for the store. “I didn’t know companies were willing to treat customers like this,” said Blanks, who used a wheelchair to navigate while shopping.

Once she picked out the new appliances, O’Connor paid for the items and they were loaded onto his truck. Back at the house, O’Connor and the Blanks’ son carried the new appliances inside and lifted the old ones onto O’Connor’s truck.

Blanks smiled when asked about the care and compassion shown by O’Connor that day. “We’re in our 70s and 80s,” she said. “What he did for us was beyond the call of duty; how quickly he got it done, and I bless him for it.”

Before he left the Blanks’ home that February evening, O’Connor said the couple asked him why he would go to such great lengths to take care of them. He said he explained that this is how you treat a customer. “I told them that our customer is APCo, and that APCo values and cares about its customers.”

From → News From AEP

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