SCE Workers Get Some "Help" From Friends, Family

March 19, 2004 ( - Employees of Southern California Edison were getting rave reviews from their "customers" in a recent satisfaction survey.

However, the objectivity of the results came under question when an anonymous tip revealed that employees had hacked into the data system – and changed the phone numbers of those to be surveyed to those of friends and family, the utility said on Monday, according to Reuters.

Rosemead, California-based SCE said an ongoing investigation showed that at least a dozen employees had falsified data. Meanwhile, the company promised to promptly repay funds which could amount to millions of dollars it received inappropriately based on customer satisfaction surveys.

Utilities regulators approved a total of $28 million from 1997 through 2000 for SCE based on customer satisfaction surveys. Potential rewards amounting to $10 million for 2001 and 2002 are still pending before regulators, according to the report. The utility says it is taking disciplinary action against the employees responsible.

Consumer advocate Doug Heller of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights said the employees’ action might indicate deeper problems with the company’s treatment of its customers. “If service was very good then no one would need to make sure they called their parents,” Heller said, according to Reuters.