Arrow-right Camera


Satisfaction and Avista? Who’da thunk?

I read in the paper that J.D. Power and Associates have given the Avista Corp. a fourth-place ranking for customer satisfaction.

Fortunately the paramedics didn’t have to be called. After a few gasping moments, my stunned heart kicked back into gear and the living room stopped spinning.

Then I started asking questions, such as …

Hey, who the heck is this J.D. Power bozo? And what kind of LSD-laced crack is he smoking?

J.D. Power. Hmm. That name sounds familiar.

Is he that ineffectual Spokane mayor we had a while back? The one who wanted to grow tomatoes on the City Hall roof?

No. Wait a second.

That was J. Powers.

And even he never did anything as dopey as giving Avista fourth place in customer satisfaction.

That’s like making Joan Rivers a runner-up in the Miss America pageant.

That’s like giving Britney Spears an honorable mention in parenting.

That’s like the Boy Scouts handing Bernie Madoff a merit badge for honesty.

Nobody I know is satisfied with Avista.

Except the company execs, of course, and the investors. Those fat cats must be cackling louder than the witches of “Macbeth.”

Avarice-sta has been raking in more dough lately than the Hostess bakery. It seems the worse the economy gets, the more money Avista makes.

I hear if we enter a depression the Avista corporate offices will be wallpapered with freshly minted C-notes.

I gave the J.D. Power story a closer read.

These so-called satisfied Avista customers are apparently business clients who spend between $500 and $50,000 a month on electricity. And who probably think the moon landing was filmed in the back lot of a Hollywood studio.

But here’s the kicker.

This fourth-place ranking was established via surveys.

Now that should tell us all something.

You can prove just about anything with a survey. It all depends on what questions you ask.

For example:

Q: Are you in favor of Avista or waterboarding juvenile shoplifters?

Q: Are you satisfied with Avista or would you rather have your private parts chewed off by a rabid Chihuahua?

If J.D. and his posse really wanted to get a read on Avista’s customer satisfaction, they should skip the business surveys and talk to average humans struggling to pay their power bills.

You could start with all the angry people who write letters to the editor about Avista. These folks are feeling more used than Madonna’s ex-lovers.

J.D. Power should have surveyed the more than 100 people who showed up outside the Avista headquarters Saturday to protest the recent hike in power bills.

The gathering was organized by Jenna Cassidy, a 24-year-old college student and mother who was outraged by the $70 jump in her January Avista bill.

You go, girl!

Hey, the other day I read in The Slice column that checks mistakenly made out to the long-defunct Washington Water Power Co. still get funneled into the Avista coffers.

What a sweet deal.

You know, the same sort of thing probably works at the post office, too.

Say postal workers receive mail addressed to “Those Greedy Bandits” or “Those Miserable Bloodsucking @%&#!.”

I’m betting mail carriers automatically assume the letters are utility payments and deliver them straight to, well, you know who.

By the way, I think one of those survey questions I used a moment ago was a bad example.

Yeah. I believe many ratepayers are so fed up with Avista right now that they’d choose the Chihuahua.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at


Top stories in Spokane

Before the falls: Spokane and the history of river cities

The falls are beautiful, they’re powerful and they’re the reason for the city. Spokane is one of a small number of American cities that have falling water in their hearts, and it’s no accident. The reasons for a city are many, but chief among them is water – for drinking, for transportation, for industry and, most recently, for beauty.