When checking their mailboxes at the tail end of the summer, residents of Barclay Heights and Glasco found postcard-sized notices from National Metering Services. These postcards explained that contractors would be visiting over 1800 homes throughout the Glasco Water District in order to install new water meters. Perhaps because the installers would need access to the inside of homes, the card tried to alleviate safety concerns. It explained what residents should expect when the installers came to their homes. These postcards noted that “National Metering Services’ installers are required to be in uniform and to have identification badges displayed at all times. Their vehicles will also be appropriately marked with the company name. We encourage you to always ask to see ID before allowing anyone in your home.”
Residents say that when the installers came to their doors only a week or so after receiving the notice, however, the experience was quite different than they had been expecting. The installers wore jeans and neon tee shirts, and the vehicles were marked only by a magnetic sticker attached to the car’s door. Additionally, when one resident asked to see identification, as suggested on the postcard, the installer seemed put out. Further, when residents told the installers they had not yet made an appointment or that they were not aware of the meter system upgrade, they say the technicians were pushy and told them that it was their job to solicit door to door. Residents describe feeling uncomfortable when approached in this manner.
Though Town Supervisor Kelly Myers says her office hasn’t received any complaints, she said residents have every right to be upset if treated this way. When a resident allows someone into his or her home it is a “personal security issue” and that “you need to know who is around your kids and your personal belongings.” Myers says that if any resident is made to feel uncomfortable or threatened by one of the installers, they should get the installer’s name and a description of the vehicle and contact her office. She will, in turn, bring these concerns to William Castle, vice president of National Metering Services. She has previously contacted him regarding the claim made at the Aug. 27 information meeting that residents were being told that they would be charged a $75 fee if installation were denied.
Castle, for his part, says that this would be considered fraud and his company would bring charges against any installer found to have made such a statement. He agrees that residents should feel safe and confirms that they should ask to see the installer’s identification. Each installer, he says, carries two identification cards. One should be worn either on a lanyard or on a belt clip. The other identification card should be in the installer’s wallet. If an installer does become defensive about showing identification or refuses, Castle, like Myers, implores residents to call and report the installer. He says that he has not heard complaints of this nature from residents of Saugerties, though he has heard them in other municipalities and has investigated each claim.
If any resident suspects that the person who has asked to enter their home is not truly a service technician but only impersonating one, Castle urges them to contact the police. He says “our men are registered with the police. We don’t mind them coming to check it out.”
Castle says that installers who are working in the area are indeed wearing neon tee shirts. These shirts, though they may appear generic, are considered “safety shirts” and are in compliance with OSHA guidelines, which demand that the workers be “highly visible.” He says that information about the installers, including their uniforms, vehicles, and the fact that have gone through background checks, is available on the company’s website, and that anyone who has questions about the process should consult this site or call the company.
Whether or not people feel that they received adequate notice or that they have been approached unprofessionally, the transition to the new meters is halfway complete, according to Castle, who asserts that this one-time home entry to install the new meters is much safer than having a technician repeatedly entering the property to read the meter.
The supervisor’s office phone number is 246-2800, ext. 345, the police number is 246-9800 and National Metering Service’s number is 1-888-448-0009.