MLGW defends response to recent crises - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

MLGW defends response to recent crises

MLGW President and CEO Jerry Collins (Source: WMC Action News 5) MLGW President and CEO Jerry Collins (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MLGW updated Memphis City Council members on its crisis response plans after a handful of high-profile incidents in recent weeks thrust the utility company into the spotlight.

Two big stories that made MLGW the subject of water cooler conversations throughout Memphis were the weeks-long power outage resulting from the Memorial Day storm and the payment kiosk issue that caused thousands of people to believe they'd paid off their MLGW bill.

That error in third party payment processing centers across the city and a fake social media rumor that former Grizzlies star Zach Randolph was covering utility bills led to chaos for MLGW Saturday morning.

"The receipts that were coming out were nowhere close to being accurate in terms of what their actual balance was," MLGW President and CEO Jerry Collins said.

Collins told council members they've determined there was no hack of customer information, and the software issue with the kiosks should be resolved by the end of the week. The company that runs the terminals, TIO Networks, had a representative on hand to explain how the company worked to identify and fix the problem.

The company is also refunding a $2 convenience fee that was charged to any customers who paid their bills during the Kiosk problem. That refund ended up totaling roughly $37,000. 

The utility company also detailed its response to the Memorial Day weekend storm that knocked out power to nearly 200,000 in the city. MLGW said it stayed actively engaged with Memphians on social media, and there is data to prove it.

But council member Philip Spinosa said the storm showed the utility needs to step it up. 

"I think there's things we can improve upon from a customer service standpoint," Spinosa said.

Spinosa pointed to the website, outage map, and MLGW app as outdated, as well as not updating properly during power restoration in real time. 

Other council members also had concerns.

"It's important to have an assessment of what happens, and there are certainly things we can learn from," council member Worth Morgan said.

Ultimately, MLGW brass and council members agreed they're open to a fresh exchange of new ideas when it comes to storm recovery.

"Input on how to improve is always a good thing," said Collins.

Council members also will be exploring the creating of a Storm Advisory Committee that could come up with new best practices for MLGW to use during future storms. More about that committee and who could be on it are expected to be announced in coming weeks. 

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