Honey, Vinegar, and Customer Service

Excavator digs large holes in my yard.

I am very excited that Sparklight is laying the infrastructure to provide an alternative to cable internet in our town. I was happy to see the work crews show up on our street. I noticed that our yard was getting bit of extra attention. And, was getting torn up quite a bit.

One afternoon I came home to mounds of dirt… they were installing these large vaults in the ground. There was a tall cabinet sitting off to the side. A significant portion of my front yard was pilled up in big mounds of dirt. Turns out the 8 foot tall by 3 or 4 foot wide “Node” was going in my front yard.

Not near the wooded area by my property line. This Node was going about 20 feet in. As you drove up to my house you would see a massive industrial storage box in front of my home. And, the placement would make backing out of my driveway on a busy street more dangerous.

It would be dangerous, and it would drastically lessen the curb appeal of my home. Literally making my home worth less money. Any attempts to dress the box up would make visibility even worse.

They had not bothered to talk to me about this. Had I not gone over to see what was happening, I would have just come home one day to find the thing in the yard. So, what to do? I can be angry, I have sufficient reason. There are several other locations the box could go. The engineers didn’t consider how this placement would affect us. The just drove their excavator onto my property and started digging. Their indifference would impact us long after they have moved in to another yard.

Have you ever heard that quip about how it’s easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar?

The thing about Utility Easements and right of way and stuff, the homeowner doesn’t have a lot of options. You can file injunctions and things, get lawyers involved, but that’s expensive and there’s no assurance of winning. And once you go down that road, there’s no going back. I decided to be friendly, understanding and ask for these guys to help me.

I asked a few questions about why the Node was placed there. Asked to talk to the site supervisor. He came over and we talked about the layout, and asked if it was set in stone or could be changed. He called his supervisor. The supervisor said they had to so what the engineers said. But he would talk to them, and see what could be done. The whole time we kept things light. It certainly wasn’t the fault of these men, they were doing their jobs.

A few minutes later the supervisor showed up and then the engineers. I greeted them, explained my concerns. I didn’t yell, or complain. Just asked if there was anything they could do. I told them I would be very grateful for their help. They assured me they would look at moving the Node, if it was possible. But needed to look at easements and see what could be done.

Saturday morning, the crew was back, and moving the Node to the other side of the road, by the brushy area near the trail by our home. I expected them to maybe move the Node back to the property line, still on my lawn but not in the middle of it. They had found a better solution than I hoped for.

The engineers and crew went far above my expectations. And beyond what they had to do. I doubt the outcome would have been the same if I had approached them with anger.