Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The only thing wrong with your sewer pipes is the shite Epcor is feeding you about buying insurance

I received  a letter from EPCOR addressed to "Homeowner"  outlining why I needed to buy insurance for my sewer line from an outfit called HOMESERVE that for some reason knows I do not have insurance on my sewer line at my home address. Now had they used my name I would have immediately filed a formal complaint with their privacy officer as I have never given EPCOR consent to share my information with anyone, so to get around this they use the phrase "Homeowner" on an EPCOR envelope.

I will not buy, and I do NOT recommend you do either, buy insurance for your sewer line from EPCOR or their cozy affiliate HOMESERVE. It's a scam, but as EPCOR is largely responsible for the problem of plugged sewer lines in the first place, it's a clever way out of a sticky situation, let me explain:

EPCOR, is, of course and in reality, Edmonton Power and was so named until, in a attempt to deflect public scrutiny of the state of our infrastructure, it was reorganized as a private corporation who's sole shareholder is the City of Edmonton.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's Edmonton power. Further proof is that 100% of the shares in EPCOR are owned by the City of Edmonton, yet another clever dodge of accountability by your existing council and administration.
Now given the rather horrific cost of replacing the "public sewer system EPCOR has opted to use as system called Insitu lining, where a thin and flexible vinyl liner is inserted in the crappy old pipe and inflated to cost the inside, then once the liner dries technology is used to cut opening at each residential sewer pipe input point. This hole, which is never inspected or cut with 100% accuracy creates a slight obstruction where your home sewer line joins the public main. Because the natural direction of flow is away from your house toward the sewer main, any obstruction, particularly if you have one of those eco friendly low flow toilets will cause the solids that are normally suspended in the flush water hang up on the cut  and settle out   you will have a plugged sewer line, on your property, that you have to fix at your own expense.
The engineers at EPCOR and the contractors who install the pipe liners know all about this, but since you dear citizen prefer your poo to just vanish never to be thought of again, they are counting on consumer ignorance to never make the link between an increase in plugged residential sewers and the use of insitu pipe liners.
Besides, you do really want to think about where your turds go, or the technology involved.
Now there are a couple of things you can do about it, first, is flush twice for all solids, avoid all paper products and dump your grease in the garbage. I would also suggest you throw away your garburator, but you wont.  Ultimately though, you could switch to a no meat-high fiber diet to accomplish all of the above while maintaining a healthy colon.
EPCOR knows, however that you are not going to do this, so instead of you managing your sewer pipe, they simply sell you insurance for $15.99 a month. 
Now the guys who unplug toilets and auger sewer lines can pretty well charge whatever they want, rule one of their  business being "don't lick your fingers", so insurance might be a good idea if you have no money or interest in any of this. Very high ICK factor, but if you are reasonably conscientious, you can keep your sewers happily alive without the help of the costly insurance from HOMESERVE.
Now HOMESERVE is not really an insurance company, I can find no record of them being registered as such in Alberta and while I suspect there is some linkage between the executive of HOMESERVE and  EPCOR, I will wait until I have proof before I suggest  a sweetheart deal amongst old business friends. I would, of course be remiss in making any such suggestion without proof, so I wont..
None the less, if you call your own insurance company, they will sell you exactly the same thing for about a third of what EPCOR is charging through HOMESERVE, even though they are really convenient and will just add the insurance to the water bill for you.
At that point there is no longer a sticky PIPA issue with EPCOR giving your information to HOMESERVE.
As a consumer you'd be wise to learn a little bit about sewer lines, sewer pipes need maintenance, will fail for a variety of reasons that aren't EPCORS fault and generally you have to get a pro in to fix it. I don't recommend you rent a big sewer auger at the lumberyard as you can do more damage than you fix if you don't know what you are doing. but fortunately most sewer repair companies are reliable and, while costly, are problem free.
As for EPCOR: their violation of the spirit of the Personal Information Protection Act is undoubtedly the work of a clever legal department that will make the sweetheart deal with HOMESERVE look like a legitimate business transaction.  I am loath to suggest otherwise.
Bottom line, you don't need to buy insurance from them, do your homework it will save you money hand over fist and since you will never be able to prove the problem with insitu pipe liners, you might want to get a quote from a real insurance company, if you bother to do it at all.
My sewer line was replaced about 15 years ago, once I got rid of my water sucking birch trees from my yard I have had a sewer back up once and my house is 45 years old.
Buying insurance from EPCOR is about as smart as buying paint and upholstery protection for a new car. 
Caveat emptor, in this case seriously caveat!  

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