Just about a year ago, I pointed out that a local utility company – let's just call it a purveyor of methane – had started offering something like insurance to customers. It's called "Interior Gas Line Coverage," which entitles the customer to the services of "a local, licensed contractor," if something goes wrong with the customer's gas pipes. Well, the methane salesfolk are back at it. They want you to buy insurance to cover your gas pipes. It'll cost you $4.49 a month.
I know, some of you are wondering, "What could go wrong with my interior gas lines?"
Well, the simple answer is: probably nothing. Anybody with the brains and savvy of a novice Cub Scout (Tiger Cub, age 7) should know that even a tiny leak in a gas pipe will release mercaptan, a noxious funk that the gas company puts into the gas on purpose, so people will smell it and shut off the gas before something blows up. If you've never smelled mercaptan, I'll describe the odor for you. It's like a mix of rotten eggs, dead crawl-space possums and a close-up dog fart.
A faithful Scout should know that when mercaptan's in the air, nobody should monkey with the light switches, light up a smoke or use a phone. It would be smart, though, to grab a good-size adjustable wrench and turn the gas off at the meter, which is outside and belongs to the gas company, not you.
But hey, why go to the trouble of learning simple Cub Scout and homeowner skills? For a lousy $4.49 a month, your purveyor of methane will have operators standing by to dispatch the usual van full of Tilt-A-Whirl greasers, elephant-dung shovelers and squirrel-brain eaters directly to your house, so they can get inside your basement or crawl space, where the gas pipes are your responsibility.
Beware the term, "local licensed contractor." It doesn't mean, "a busload of laid-off rocket geniuses from Huntsville, pulling a trailer full of fancy tools." It means, "underemployed people sent by salespeople you don't know." No offense to dung shovelers and such, but my long experience in the home inspection business taught me that your typical local, licensed contractor who's dispatched to your house by methane peddlers is more likely to burn down, blow up or flood your house than the 7-year-old Cub Scout.
Sure, $4.49 a month isn't much. It's just $53.88 a year from each of the methane purveyor's million or so customers. Just a little more than $54 million a year out of customer's pockets.
Back in 2000, a water company in New Jersey offered "LeakGuard," a type of underground-pipe insurance that covered pipe failure between the curb and the water meter. That service cost a customer about $54 a year, and added up to nearly $10 million bucks if all of the 180,000 customers of the company signed up. You people who've never picked up a tool, listen to me: Buy an adjustable wrench. A homeowner ought to be able to shut off his own water and gas — and keep them shut off until a plumber shows up.
Lately, I've been annoyed by a vendor who calls about once a week. She talks nonstop like a politician, and she tells me I need to buy insurance that will cover my home appliances — the furnaces, the air conditioners, the refrigerator, the stove and such. After I listen to her for a minute or so, I interrupt and explain to her that I can find my own defects and I can call people who've been working on my house — and the stuff in my house — for years. So she needn't call back. If my house were burning, flooding, crumbling and spewing demons at the same time, I wouldn't want a faraway operator to send a van full of wannabe franchisees to my front door.
If you have a vendor twisting your arm to buy useless insurance — insurance to cover events that most likely will never happen — I recommend that you do one or all of the following: Once a month, drop your $4 or $5 dollars of "I can't believe I almost fell for that scam" money into an envelope, then donate it to the worthy cause of your choice. Or, send the money to a good dog rescue organization. And if it suits you, there's nothing wrong with dropping a duffel bag full of cash onto my front porch. I'll take it in and hide it from the charlatans.
The show is coming back. End of story.
The old Nashville Banner column was "Why do the heathen rage" or something like that.
Google the George Strait 60 for 60 campaign. It worked.
Reading comprehension hasn't informed yours, Fool.
It makes me throw up a little in my mouth to see arrogant, prideful know-it-all…