Writer of Nova Scotia Power diatribe says response shows Nova Scotians' frustration

Ashley Thompson
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Janet Lunn’s sharp-witted letter to Nova Scotia Power is quickly making its rounds on social media

A Falmouth resident’s no-holds-barred letter to Nova Scotia Power following post-tropical storm Arthur has gone viral on social media.

Janet Lunn’s lament, posted as a Facebook note shortly before 6 p.m. on July 8, tells the tale of an annoyed Nova Scotia Power customer expecting to be left in the dark for another 48 to 72 hours after already living without electricity for 82 hours.

“I have three voicemails on my phone advising me that you have restored my power. I was shocked to hear this yet again because my lights still don’t work and the hot water is very, very cold,” the letter reads.

Lunn, a home-based travel agent, proceeded to provide the power company with a list of 12 restoration time estimates she received since losing electricity July 5 at 7 a.m.

“Today I sponge bathed in cold water in my sink and had a handful of 12-day-old peanuts for breakfast. My fridge is now empty because the smell of rotting meat was beginning to seep through. I have a list of Wi-Fi places nearby so I can linger over drinks and snacks while trying to run a home-based business from a tablet,” she wrote.

Lunn’s letter had 3,921 likes and 4,360 shares on Facebook as of July 10 at 2 p.m. A copy of the letter shared with TC Media is the most viewed in the NovaNewsNow.com family of sites.   

“That shows you how many people are frustrated, I guess. If you count one share as one frustrated customer, that’s a lot of frustrated people,” Lunn said.

She hopes the provincial government sees her letter as a prime example of why Nova Scotia Power’s monopoly should be reviewed.

“When I kept getting notifications that my power was on when it wasn’t, and people on the phone telling me that they’re not coming to my house because I’m not a priority, I thought, if this was any other company I would just tell them I’m not going to use your service anymore and I’m going to go to your competition,” she said. “And I can’t do that.”

Lit up

Lunn’s power was restored around 9 a.m. July 9, one day after she tracked a Nova Scotia Power truck down and asked the operator to address the prolonged outage at her home on Highway 1.

However, her story isn’t over yet. Complete strangers have been reaching out to Lunn since she posted her letter online. One told her she had to take her husband, who receives dialysis treatments from home, to the hospital for care during the outage. Another had to sponge bath her sick father, who is living at home while on palliative care, in cold water.

“There’s a lot of people way worse off than I am that still don’t have power,” said Lunn.

She intends to send Nova Scotia Power an invoice for the discarded food, lost wages and restaurant bills resulting from the extended power outage in her area.

“I don’t expect anything to come of this but I just want them to see what one average person lost because they’re incompetent,” she said.

“I’m going on years and years now of constant poor service with no recourse.”

Taking a trip down memory lane, Lunn recalled in her letter the time she dealt with more than 15 power outages in the span of a year. Another time, she said she was told her power was out because of fog. Yet another day, the power lines were allegedly compromised by drizzle.

I thought if this was any other company I would just tell them I’m not going to use your service anymore and I’m going to go to your competition. Janet Lunn

“For 10 years, I was told the lines were fine. Meanwhile, whenever my neighbour’s dog farted my power was out for three days,” Lunn quipped.

All jokes aside, Lunn challenged Nova Scotia Power’s decision makers to re-evaluate the way they operate.

“There is absolutely no reason for power outages to occur as often or for as long as they do here in Nova Scotia. The fact that it does happen is proof that you are understaffed, poorly managed and have no preparedness plan for emergencies, which should be a basic premise in your industry,” she said.

Company’s response

NSP spokeswoman Neera Ritcey said she couldn’t comment on an individual customer’s situation.

However, she did say, “some of the communication systems did not live up to the standard we are used to and that our customers should be able to expect.”

Ritcey said Arthur caused “significant damage” which led to revisions in the restoration estimates.

“Customers are understandably frustrated,” Ritcey said July 10.

“As soon as every last customer is restored we will review what went wrong and we are committed to fixing those systems. We will also be reviewing the strategy that we use to estimate times that power will be restored. Generally it works well and has held up during winter storms but we recognize that we may be able to improve it for storms of the severity we have seen with Arthur.”

With 187 crews working July 10, Ritcey said, she expected to bring back electricity to customers by Friday night.


Organizations: Nova Scotia Power

Geographic location: Falmouth, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • ontheradar
    July 15, 2014 - 18:38

    Perhaps a class action suit would wake them up.

  • Philippe Frigault
    July 15, 2014 - 09:22

    Liberal, Conservatives, NDP, they are all to blame for this, Premier McNeil, stand up, put you pants on and pass the bill 157 and give us a refund for all the food and other things we lost during this past storm. PERIOD....

  • Judy
    July 14, 2014 - 08:11

    The bottom line is Nova Scotia Power will never improve customer service because they have zero competition so therefore they do not have too!!

  • Belmont Boy
    July 13, 2014 - 10:05

    I have great sympathy for the travails that everyone has had to endure but I think that a social media campaign is not the way to address the matter. This is a regulated industry because of the monopoly and our consumer advocate should be addressing this matter. From all I can understand our advocate is highly respected. The provincial review might be worthwhile but it is likely to escalate to political grandstanding. However, I have a few thoughts having lived through the both the government run monopoly and the private sector one. Neither is perfect but I saw a very dramatic improvement under the new NSPC. NSPC does not make money when its customers do not have power. They do not make money when the network has to be almost totally repaired. If this was government run you still wouldn't have power. They would still be having meetings with the Premier trying to plan for what should be done. The reality is that Mother Nature can be more powerful than any human system. With global weather impacts being more dramatic recently perhaps this will be a more common occurrence. Also, the movement of people away from rural areas puts a tremendous strain on the system to ensure that every risk is covered all the time. As this migration to the metro area continues it will be more difficult for any provider to keep the rates down and to make sure that every tree in the vicinity of the lines is cut. This is a similar problem that is facing the health care system and how good is government doing in running that system. They just starve a service of funding until everyone agrees that the service should be centralized in Halifax! People with businesses need to have business backup plan in case this sort of thing happens. Perhaps a generator is a good idea if you cannot live without power. I hope that there is a somber, professional analysis of the response to the storm and NSPC's response. However, I am very leery about social media reaction driving our response.

  • Don Cossaboom
    July 12, 2014 - 20:00

    It does not matter to the company because if it did it would not leave an area until ALL power was restored.In my case and four others of my neighbours we were left to go another full day before they came and spliced a line back together located on a line between theirs and a pole on my property .Needless to say the branches that caused the problem are still there to cause another problem sometime in the future.Why would they not take 10 minutes before they turned the power back on to remove the branches.SOMEONE is not thinking straight

  • Kyle M
    July 11, 2014 - 17:56

    When trees take out power lines, that's what happens. Same thing happened in New Brunswick. Why not complain about that too? She fails to realize that NS Power is owned by Emera which is a publicly traded company whose board of directors responsibility is to the share holders (increase profit) not its customers. The government doesn't want the hassle of running a utility company. I do find it amazing how much complaining people do (yes it sucked not to have power for three days) and think they can do such a better job when they have no clue about the regulations, politics etc. that influences the decisions of such corporations.

    • Lisa
      July 11, 2014 - 22:09

      Three days is nothing. Less than half the time I've been out. I don't think she "fails to realize" anything you mention. I think the issues she discussed went right over your head. We are told repeatedly that we have been restored of power. We then have to make sure we are put on the restore list. They took us off the list previously so now we are at the bottom. Some of us have a much better clue than you do about the inner workings of Emera and Nova Scotia Power and both entities can do a much better job with pretty much anyone else running it.

  • Kyle M
    July 11, 2014 - 17:46

    When trees take out power lines, that's what happens. Same thing happened in New Brunswick. Why not complain about that too?

  • Dahlia
    July 11, 2014 - 16:38

    Her smug face says it all - she's proud of her "clever" article. Compensation for her "pain and suffering" - are you kidding me? Aww, she had to sponge-bath, eat some peanuts and go to restaurants? This was an act of nature and NS power is doing what they can to get everyone back up and running as fast as possible. It could get a lot worse people. Get off your high horse, stop complaining and get a generator. Be prepared. Take some responsibility for your own survival. You knew the hurricane was on it's way. God help us, the power goes out for a couple of days and we can do nothing but whine and complain.

    • Lisa
      July 11, 2014 - 22:02

      First I don't see smugness in the picture at all. I think you are a little bitter for some reason. Maybe daddy or hubby (whoever is supporting you) is an NSP worker? It was barely an act of nature. Certainly not a bad one in our area (near Windsor). A few leaves blowing around and no rain. Not everyone can afford a generator and the Red Cross told us to prepare for 72 hours without power not 172 hours. At least she is helping people like me who are still without power and relying on the kindness of family and friends for survival. Maybe it's no big deal for you if the power is out but I have medical needs that require power, lost all my fridge and freezer foods and I'm on a seniors budget. More than a couple of days is a big deal for me. It's funny to see you whine and complain about how you don't want people to whine and complain though.

    • Ah
      July 13, 2014 - 13:37

      I disagree. Improvements to rural areas does not have a priority because it does not maximize profits. That is why systems a fragile. Loss owing a couple days revenue and patching things up is cheaper in the short which gives the company better short term profits. Improving systems has too long of a payback and in a private company equality is not part of the process. We pay a lot for electricity and the private company makes a lot of money. Expect record profits again by them even when there was a hurricane. They are in a riskless business.

  • DLS
    July 11, 2014 - 15:49

    Thanks to Janet for retaining her humour and cogency. I am envious of this --I tried to write something and found my customary patience, good nature and resiliency had been wiped out by dealing with the heat (health problems), spoiled food, downed trees etc. and trying to not be rude to the poor workers who had to deal with the calls with scripts inadequate to the reality. Got my electricity back today after being rendered powerless by NSP into day 7. Called my MLA 3 hours later --electricity. Imagine that... Dishwasher going. Washer and dryer working. Round one fridge 2 Me 0 I'm sure my jaw won't come unclenched for a few days. and I'm contemplating organizing local people to gather to see what actions are available, beyond letter writing, to protest the leadership of NSP's ineffective management and deceit to their customers. This article is great!

  • Kathy Vatcher
    July 11, 2014 - 12:28

    Ms. Lunn I am not making excuses for your or anyone else's power outages. There is no excuse. The point I want to make and I do hope I make this point clearly. The head of NSP blamed it on his workers which is a crock of crap. He stated that there was not enough people on to handle all the calls and they did not give correct information to NSP customers. The workers at the call center in Halifax are mandatory to show up for all outages. They would have been told ahead of time what shifts they would be doing and there is no exceptions to the rule, unless you are medically unable to work. These workers are giving scripts to say what is going on to the customers. I know that after all the Juan storms we had they should have been more prepared. My point is it is not the employees that answer your calls fault at all. They do their job and I do believe they do their job to the best of their ability. I can't imagine the frustration you have nor can I imagine losing all my food. I hope in the end that you do get reimbursed for all your looses and your suffering. I think the funds should come from the CEO's personal funds and then maybe he will see how we all suffer during power outages no matter the length of the outages.

  • Phil Vogler
    July 11, 2014 - 09:55

    I like the letter and to bring politics into this issue on a personal level (attack actually) is childish ... very immature. NS Power dropped the ball big time - Mother Nature is what she is and yes to a certain extent we should be prepared for her - but the issue here is the lack of response from NS Power - the BS restore times that they broadcasted. I wonder how many people lost the contents of the freezer simply because they had no sure way of knowing when their power would be restored. In a day when the top dogs at NS Power are taking home millions per year ... well you can roll over and let NS Power stick it to you - I prefer to call them on it - shameful.

  • Bill
    July 11, 2014 - 09:26

    Sounds like a bitter ex girlfriend bringing up the past. Really 12 day old peanuts , be like everyone else and go to a Mcdonalds for breakfast and get food to make sandwiches , something that will not go bad. Well said SM.

  • Charlie Brown
    July 11, 2014 - 09:02

    I'm just wondering what steps your news publication takes to insure the validity of a story submitted to you? I would be interested in hearing the comments from the many , many people this poor lady spoke to in regards to treatment she had to endure. The other people in her community must love having her for their spokesperson.

  • David Bannerman
    July 11, 2014 - 07:10

    But didn't the Liberals promise competition for NS Power once elected. Didn't they blather on about it almost every week in the year leading up to the election. Yes... thank goodness the Liberals are in power now, they will surely fix this mess before the end of the summer.

  • Allison
    July 11, 2014 - 06:31

    Another elitist Liberal with no real idea how the world works,Always blame someone else for not being prepared for a little wind in Nova Scotia.

    • Citizen
      July 13, 2014 - 22:07

      Liberal eh? That's funny, because it was a conservative government that gave Emera the best contract in the history of contracts when it sold off NSP. What else on Earth can you invest in for a guaranteed return of 9% every year? Yeah, storms happen, we get it. What people don't like is Emera cutting back on it's level of service in order to make that guaranteed 9%. You know why there's not as many linemen today as there was last year? Because Emera has not replaced any of the 20 or so they've lost in the last year. They haven't made any effort to either. In the real world selling a public utility who's mandate was to provide the best service for the best price was short sighted and stupid. What we have now is a company who's mandate is to make profits for shareholders at our expense, a company that has a complete monopoly, and we have zero recourse. Thanks a lot conservative ideology. This has worked out great for all Nova Scotians.

  • SM
    July 11, 2014 - 05:51

    Another FB 15 minutes of fame. Bravo Janet Lunn, bravo. You are so witty !!! I loath social media.

  • Kyle
    July 10, 2014 - 22:40

    I have to disagree how is it there fault theres no way to control mother nature they have crews working to get it back online we live in te maritimes theres going to be power outages go buy a generator i know there a lot of money but this isint going to be the last outage there are thousands of other people just like you that are going through the same thing go buy a generator and dont blame the crews.

    • Ted
      July 11, 2014 - 09:24

      If you can't use the proper "their, they're, there", maybe you shouldn't comment. She never blamed the crews in her letter. I don't think anyone would blame them. Just a lack of upgrades and maintenance by NS power. Some power poles in Upper Falmouth are so old they have woodpecker holes from one side to the other.

  • dana stewart
    July 10, 2014 - 19:49

    I think we should give these guys another bonus check.....? why was a monopoly privatized to begin with. Years ago when it was provincially run',almost every town or municipality had a local nova scotia power office and crew most of expense was maintenance not BONUSES to the pencil pushers........how long would we be without power if we get another Groundhog Day Storm..........?

  • Sylvia
    July 10, 2014 - 18:34

    My adopted daughter lives in Japan... There have been earthquakes, fires, storms and even a bloody nuclear emergency... and you know what? Not ONCE did her power go out! Nova Scotia Power has the WORSE service ever, and they can get away with it because they are the only ones here. We don't have an option to go elsewhere. It SUCKS. I am tempted to revert to solar power at this rate. I could use a flash light to charge my panels up and still get more done with that than the service from NSP as it's brighter than they are!

    • Sheldon
      July 11, 2014 - 07:51

      Totally ridiculous all you complainers.........go to places in the world where there are real problems and give your privileged heads a shake. Shame on you all . If you don't like it then leave..........I'm sure you all can complain about much more somewhere and fix the worlds woes hiding behind your computers.

    • Jason
      July 11, 2014 - 11:18

      Sheldon your words are disgusting .... Privileged ???? what are we Privileged for ? over Paying for subpar service , the Right to not be lied too ? thats not a Privilege thats a RIGHT , get off your soapbox man , living in NS isnt a Privilege , most who live here dont have a choice to move , wether its employment or family , or usually Money , how can you move when the Government and its cronies have all our money. Granted there are places where things are worse , but were not discussing those places , we are discussing our homes...... Chowderhead

  • aj
    July 10, 2014 - 16:42

    they aren't going to comment, until we either re nationalize NSP, because selling it was a mistake, or we break it up. monopolies in private hands are a bad thing.

  • R. Swicker
    July 10, 2014 - 16:20

    I'm sorry Hants Journal, but a sarcastic letter penned on Facebook is not news.

    • Newsworthy
      July 10, 2014 - 19:01

      I guess the 4000+ people who shared the letter and the 70+ who commented on the article would disagree. If you don't want yo read it, the choice is yours. Just because you didn't agree with it doesn't make it unnewsworthy.

  • RA
    July 10, 2014 - 16:09

    Although I was one of the lucky ones (my power was out for less than twenty four hours). I would like to encourage those who have the ability to, to be prepared. In my arsenal, I have a generator (which I used during this storm), a gas pump, and I also recently added two lengths of fire hose, nozzle and fitting to hook up to the fire hydrant in case of lost fire services. Things are NOT going to get better for regular citizens, it's going to get worse. So be prepared if you can, teaming up with some neighbors on the cost of a generator may be an option, a couple hours of having your freezer plugged in could keep things frozen for many hours without power. Good letter, it garnered a lot of attention. Bit of a potty mouth though. I like it.

    • Ryan
      July 14, 2014 - 21:32

      Still upset you didn't get your little fire dept eh?

  • Leila
    July 10, 2014 - 15:11

    That response was every bit as ineffectual as the service is. Cowards!!!!!! There are individual customers with children who are going hungry in order to pay their power bill, because they cannot be without it come winter. NS POWER is deliberately causing poverty amongst the most vulnerable of Nova Scotia's population, who have no choice but to be your suckers, oops, I mean pigeons, no I meant customers....yeah that's it. However the word customer insinuates some kind of mutually beneficial relationship. I'm currently thinking victims should be used here.

  • Darrin
    July 10, 2014 - 14:46

    You'd think if an individual gave the okeydokey then NSP COULD, 'comment on an individual customer’s situation...'