This happened to me a month ago. I was going to a low income job to diagnose and give price. First of all when they don't plan on Paying you until it's approved why do they expect you to diagnose it. Anyways found a bad ignitor then I asked are you sure you have gas? Knowing they were broke and seeing this thread or one like it. They then tell me well they shut it off awhile ago but I'm thinking they might have turned it back on. I basically said thanks for wasting my time and fuel and they never called back, go figure. What pisses me off is the girl has an iPhone she's texting on and a nice laptop with what looked like a million songs on it but had to have welfare pick up the bill. I hate those jobs and prefer not to do them.
And they allways want you to cut the lock off because they have "payed the bill but they haven't turned the gas on yet". Or how about that sneaky seal disk the gas Co. will put in the meter outlet and forget to remove. Once took me hours to find that one for a customer who could document service but had no gas(the seal will stick in th outlet line).
Not awkward for me to tell a customer that it is locked out. I tell them to call the gas company and then ask them how they will be paying for the service call today.
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Two weeks ago I repaired a cooler at a Restaraunt I had done work at before. I was out in the van writing up the invoice when I see the gas company come and lock out the meter 30 minutes before dinner service.
I go back in with the bill and tell the owner I need payment immediately in cash. He's always mailed a check in the past and asks why I need payment now. I tell him its a new policy. He opens the register and pulls out some cash for me. After he gives it to me he asks "why the new policy?" I tell him "because the gas company is locking your meter right now"
The look on his face was priceless.
I don't even know where to start. I used to work for a company that did low income work all winter long so I saw that all the time. I would usually handle it differently based on the customer. If it was an elderly or disabled person that truly needed assistance. I would tell them "sometimes the gas co makes mistakes" or "that happened to me once when I forgot to pay my bill". I wouldn't be so nice at places like joe mentioned. I have tons of stories from places like that.
They can switch to electric
This was in my rookie years, I'll never do a job in those conditions again.
See that from time to time. Also seen entire meters taken where people have tampered with locks. I have also changed out gas packs or furnaces for heat pumps and noticed a gas lock. Some times people or businesses really do forget to get gas service if they move in during summer and didnt have gas at previous place. If I have to make a special trip out of my way I may charge trip fee but most of time do not. The only one that really duped me was a older house in town that had been renovated into a realestate office years ago and had been added onto a few times. They were making it into a co-sign/hobby store and wanted to make sure units were ok. Its fall and still warm so ac is running. this place has 3 heat pump condenser units one to basement upgraded into offices, with its on Thermostat. Main floor has other heat pump and tstat. 3rd unit eludes me as I cant find its air handler or extra tstat. It looked different than others so I assume its abandoned. Everything seems great untill a while later I get a call saying it gets cold at times on main floor and I check unit which is doing all it can with its little 5kw aux heat on 4 ton HP. I notice with a/h off air blowing through it. Come to find out there was a furnace tied into its ductwork(not correctly twinned but cluster @#$%^) and the access had been covered on recent remodel. Made new access to it and checked it out but no gas. Lock on meter. Explained situation to owner but they were ok with how it was setup and will turn on gas. The condenser unit must have been changed out with a used HP, as I turned on (after a hunt) breaker to it and it cooled when it was supposed to.