In a two-page mea culpa to shippers, Enron Transportation &Storage (ETS) owned up to seven sins revealed by a recent customersurvey and offered six solutions with the promise of more to come.

“While a number of our employees were complimented on theirefforts and dedication, in general the [survey] results indicatedthat our customers were not satisfied with the ways in which weserve them,” wrote William R. Cordes, ETS president. The April 23rdletter appeared on the bulletin board portion of the NorthernNatural and Transwestern Web sites. Enron’s failings:

While such a bruising self-assessment might cause a therapist toat least prescribe a daily affirmation, one shipper merely snorted”all of the above” upon hearing the list. He said the letter’sapparent candor was merely the company “trying to pull a politicaldeal” to placate shippers. “It may [work] if you’re the presidentof the United States, but it doesn’t work in the gas business.”While he didn’t call for a special prosecutor, the Northern Naturalshipper said the Enron pipe is among the worst for customerservice. “Most of the people I work with down at the lowest levelsare conscientious and try, but they are limited by management as towhat they’re allowed to do and not allowed to do.”

He attributed the bulk of the problems to too much staff cuttingand automation . “I think they’re trying to put their whole systemon automatic pilot and let the computer handle it all. This is avery personal business. You just can’t let machines buy and sellgas and transport gas. People have to be involved with that.”

Enron spokeswoman Elaine Thomas said the survey included bothquestionnaires and interviews. “We went in looking for ways toimprove our service. Our customers identified areas that they wouldlike to see us make improvements in. It is very unvarnished. Ithink, first of all, we as a company have made a commitment that wewant to provide superior customer service, and the only way you cando that is by identifying your strengths and areas that needattention.”

Cordes said staff have been assigned to the problems andpromised follow-up. In the meantime, six “quick fixes” were made:

The shipper suggested a fix a little more old-fashioned. “Turnthat customer service light back on. It’s gotten kind of dim overthe last couple of years.”

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