Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Sunday, July 8, 2001

Most, but not all, utility
workers wear company uniforms

Question: In the interest of safety and security for our Island residents and businesses, would it be unreasonable to request that the utility companies (Board of Water Supply, GasCo, Hawaiian Electric and Verizon), who have employees who make service calls, require them to wear a uniform or company shirt and carry a company ID that CLEARLY identifies that person as an employee of that company? An ID card only is difficult to see, especially by senior citizens and those who are visually impaired, and some companies have employees dressed only in regular street clothing. If we can clearly identify their clothing as official company uniforms, it will leave less doubt as to their identity and possibly reduce unauthorized entry or criminal activity by others.

Answer: Most of the employees of these companies who make service calls do wear uniforms and most also drive clearly identifiable company cars, according to the four utility companies.

At the Board of Water Supply, the only employees who go to homes are investigators and bill collectors, said spokeswoman Denise DeCosta. They all wear uniforms and drive company vehicles, she said.

Most employees of The Gas Company also wear uniforms, spokesman Steve Golden said. Those who deliver gas to customers wear navy blue uniforms with name tags, while meter readers wear a slightly different uniform, but also with names on their suits, he said.

The only employees who don't wear uniforms are account executives on the sales side, he said.

Field employees at Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric carry company ID badges and some also wear uniforms with a company logo, said spokesman Fred Kobashikawa.

All field employees also use vehicles clearly marked with the respective company logo, he said.

"In cases where a resident is not home and electrical work is required on the premises, we inform the resident by leaving a door hanger note at the front door," he said.

At Verizon, employees are required to carry an ID badge, but employees are given a choice when it comes to wearing a uniform, said spokeswoman Ann Nishida.

"In September, we will be getting new Verizon work shirts to replace the old GTE blue and gray shirts," she said. At that time, Verizon will offer to buy the shirts for the staff. Although wearing the shirts will still be voluntary, about 90 percent of the employees are expected to wear them, Nishida said.

Meanwhile, Kobashikawa's advice would be good for any other worker coming to your home: "If you're concerned about an electric utility employee on your property, consider asking for the number of the employee's supervisor to call for confirmation," he advised. "If the individual refuses to show you their ID or provide a phone number, don't let them on your property -- and notify the police."

Q: We live in Kailua and received our Verizon telephone books on Thursday. But we got an East Honolulu directory, as did our neighbor. So possibly quite a few people in Windward Oahu also got the wrong book. Can you alert other readers?

A: East Honolulu directories were mistakenly delivered to some Windward Oahu areas, acknowledged Verizon spokeswoman Ann Nishida.

Verizon has a contract with a vendor to distribute the new phone books. That vendor was backtracking to the areas where misdeliveries were known to have occurred. If you have a wrong directory, call 833-2018.

About a million directories are expected to be delivered on Oahu by the end of July, Nishida said.

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