Tuesday, December 26, 2017

DTE's Latest Intimidation Tactics

People continue to resist DTE’s forced installation of smart meters, refusing to cave in to their shut-off notices and threats. This has left DTE confounded and uncertain and unable to settle upon a decisive course of action. Over the last two-and-a-half years they have continually reinvented their letters, notices, and threats in the hopes that they find some magic bullet to stop the resistance. Bottom line: Your resistance is working! DTE is not shutting off electricity to most customers to whom it sends notices (and, in a crazy twist, it is shutting off some customers who agree to allow a smart meter to be installed on their home).
Because of the strong resistance DTE is showing, and because of the publicity around the relatively small number of shut-offs, DTE is now going door-to-door, threatening customers with analog meters that if they do not accept the smart meter, their electricity will be shut off. They are hoping that people get scared and let them put a meter on, on the spot. For the most part, customers continue to refuse installation, and those customers are not being shut off.
Below we discuss some of the history of these notices and customer responses. Following that, we outline what you should do if you get a shut-off notice, some other kind of letter, or DTE personnel banging on your door or visiting your property.
Following that, you will find our original pages on what to do if you get a letter from DTE. DTE is still working to complete its initial installations in the northern parts of its territory.
Table of Contents
1)      Recent History of Letters and Shut-offs
a)      Shut-off Notices, the First Incarnation
b)      Unsuccessful, DTE Reverts to Its “Health and Safety Hazard Letter”
c)      Confounded Because Most Customers Refuse to Cave in, DTE Decides That a Gift Certificate Combined with a Shut-off Notice Might Induce People to Call and Accept the Smart Meter
2)      Even People Who Call to Accept the Smart Meter Have Been Shut Off
3)      What DTE Is Trying to AccomplishRather Unsuccessfully
4)      DTE’s Most Recent Tactic, as of Mid-November 2017
5)     What to Do If You Receive a Shut-off Notice or Other Threat
Recent History of Letters and Shut-offs
Shut-off Notices, the First Incarnation
DTE began sending out actual shut-off notices to customers in August 2017. As usual, they have tried varying tactics. In one instance, they sent shut-off notices to at least 11 Ann-Arborarea residents. Eight people refused to respond to their letter. A protest was held at the home of Linda Kurtz, leader of the Smart Meter Education Network. DTE never showed up at her home, and never shut off her electric service. DTE did shut off most of the other customers, but did not do so in one day. Channel 7 did a story on the shut-offs, we were featured on the front page of the Ann Arbor News, and appeared on MLive and in other outlets.
Unsuccessful, DTE Reverts to Its “Health and Safety Hazard Letter”
Perhaps because of the publicity, DTE reverted to its previous letter that asserts, without foundation, that a locked meter is a health and safety hazard.  DTE, with the blessing of the Michigan Public Service Commission, was using this letter as a pretext to shut off electricity to customers who did not want smart meters. (Read this and this to learn why a locked meter is not a hazard.) DTE had been sporadically sending this letter out since March of 2015. When sending the letter out, it tried various tactics to get people to cave in: Sometimes it sent the letter to customers scattered widely across its service territory, some over 100 miles apart. At other times, it would select customers in one city. In every case, DTE has hoped that customers would cave in. They hoped that the customers receiving the notices and getting shut off would talk to each other, and that everyone would then fold, accepting the smart meter without a fight. Most customers refused to fold. After nearly two-and-a-half years of that pretextual letter, DTE moved to an actual shut-off notice. When that didn’t work in Ann Arbor, DTE went back to the “health and safety hazard” letter, sending it out just a couple of weeks later to customers in the Brighton area. While some customers did call DTE and accede to their demands, most did not. DTE was foiled again, and state representative Lana Theis is fully on board with Analog Meter Choice!
Confounded Because Most Customers Refuse to Cave in,
DTE Decides That a Gift Certificate Combined with a Shut-off Notice
Might Induce People to Call and Accept the Smart Meter
Hmm, thought  DTE. What do we do now? Yeah, we get a few people caving in here and there, but mostly people are refusing. So DTE reverted to the shut-off notice that Linda Kurtz and others had been sent, but with a twist. It now threatened customers with shut-off, yet inexplicably added a carrot, a special offer for its “valued customers”: 
DTE sent out scores of these letters threatening an October 23, 2017 shut-off date, and has sent out a few threatening a later date. Most customers have refused to respond. DTE has shut off customers here and there since October 2017, but is mostly leaving people alone. Of the hundreds of letters sent out, only about 10% of “valued DTE customers” were shut off. That is good odds that you will be left alone!
Even People Who Call to Accept the Smart Meter Have Been Shut Off
 There are also people who called DTE after receiving the shut-off notice. They told DTE they would accept the smart meter (or the non-transmitting smart meter) on their home. DTE scheduled an appointment for meter replacement. DTE went out and shut off some of those people anyway, including 73-year-old Irene Robinson of Hamburg Township near Pinckney. They showed up on a Sunday morning, a week before they were scheduled to replace the meter, and simply shut off her electricity. She’s not the only one. It seems that whether you call DTE or not, your electric service may be cut. It’s all a lottery. If you get a shut-off notice, your electricity might be cutbut it might not. If you call DTE and tell them you will let them place the hazardous smart meter on your home, your electricity might stay onor it might be cut, even though you’ve made the appointment.
What DTE Is Trying to AccomplishRather Unsuccessfully
DTE has tried, through all the iterations of its threats and letters and shut-off notices, to find that magic bullet that will cause not only the person receiving the letter to cave in, but everyone else that person knows, too. They hope that if Mary Jane gets a shut-off notice or is shut off, she will talk to her neighbors who are resisting, inform all her friends and acquaintances, with the end result that all these people freak out and call DTE to accept the smart meter. They have hoped that if they send letters to a few people in widely scattered parts of the state, it will seem like DTE is on the march. It hasn’t worked. They have hoped that if they send letters to a couple handfuls of people in one city, the whole city will cave. It hasn’t worked.
DTE’s Most Recent Tactic, as of Mid-November 2017
DTE’s attempts to scare and intimidate with shut-off notices are producing poor results for the utility. Now DTE is trying yet another tactic. It’s latest letter combines the wording of many different letters it has sent out over the last five years. Here is the letter:
This letter combines elements of the “health and safety hazard” letter with other features. Among other things, DTEand the Michigan Public Service Commissionhave learned from the formal complaint I, Linda Kurtz, filed against DTE in September 2017. My complaint was denied, yet DTE has now incorporated some of my allegations into its letter. Did you know that according to DTE a deck can be a safety hazard warranting shut-off? According to the letter, you must remove your deck in order to comply with the law. Regarding the cooperation between DTE and the MPSC: I was told straight up by the head of the complaints department at the MPSC that the commission had approved DTE’s “health and safety hazard” letter and was fully supporting its contents and claims.
Most interestingly, DTE has dialed it back once again. This latest letter is not a shut-off notice but instead, like the shut-off notice, a stick combined with a carrot. Continued customer resistance, the many TV news stories, and the concerted work of Senator Patrick Colbeck’s office on behalf of customers who have been mistreated by DTE are having an effect. Goliath is meeting his David.
We post links to media stories on shut-offs on our Alerts and Breaking News page, and also on Facebook.

What to Do If You Receive a Shut-off Notice or Other Threat
1.      Call us at 972-2677 (area code 734), and follow the instructions there for connecting with us.
2.      Don’t call DTE until you talk to us.
3.      Email us with your name, city, county, and phone number and tell us the type of letter you received. If you don’t see it on this site, please attach a copy. Our email address is SmartMeterEducationNetwork@gmail DOT com (replace the “DOT” with a period). Please put “Shut-off Notice” in the subject line so that we can quickly find your email!!
4.      Remember, DTE doesn’t shut off most people.
5.      Calling DTE to allow them to put on a meter guarantees you nothing. You could schedule DTE to come out and put on an opt-out meter or smart meter, and they might come out and shut you off anyway.
6.      Know that if your electricity were to be cut off, you can get your service restored.
7.      Know that we have generators available if necessary.
8.      If you do call DTE:
a.      Every encounter you have with DTE should be recorded. DTE has lied multiple times to many people, but unfortunately people rarely record the conversations.
b.      Get the name (and and I.D.) of the person you talk with. Write down the date, time, and length of the call, and make notes on what was said. Do this for every call, without fail!
9.      Every person who gets a threatening letter from DTE needs to email every single member of the Michigan Legislature. That contact info can be found on our Analog Meter Choice Bill page. All you have to do is copy and paste the emails. There’s no excuse for not letting the legislature know what is going on!
We recommend that you do not contact DTE. As we said, DTE has sent out hundreds of shut-off notices. Only a few handfuls of people have been shut off. Moreover, even if you call DTE and accept the smart meter, they might come out and shut you off! It is better to wait and see what happens. You will probably be passed over. If you call them, you are more on their radar than ever.
Only one person has been shut off  in the last couple of weeks.
If DTE personnel come by your home and threaten shut-off, simply tell them you are not ready to accept the meter. You can read more on our Alerts and Breaking News page.

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