|The OLD and The NEW|
Hotpoint and Whirlpool
Sometimes there are advantages to being poor. A couple of months ago, I received an email and regular snail mail from my electricity provider - Southern California Edison, saying that I may qualify for some free energy efficient appliances. All I had to do was respond within a certain time and a home visit by one of the company's representatives was going to be arranged. Sounds like a scam or an invitation for a home invasion robbery, right? Well, except this correspondence was legit, so I sent in my application.
A few days later, someone named Mary who represented a partner of SCE, called to ask about my income and when she could come to inspect my home to see what appliances I had. She asked me to make a copy of my income tax return and proof that I owned my home. I did that, but blocked sensitive information from the copies including my social security number and date of birth. With all the identity theft happening nowadays, one can never be too careful. On the morning Mary arrived, she looked around, checked the model of my refrigerator, air conditioner, light bulbs, and power strips. She said based on the papers I had given her, I certainly qualified to get a replacement refrigerator since mine was more than 20 years old. But first she had to verify the information I gave her. Before Mary left, she gave me a couple of CFL light bulbs (even though I've already been using those for a long time), and an "intelligent" power strip where you can plug in low voltage appliances in some receptacles and high voltage ones in different holes. The power strip is only supposed to supply the adequate amount of electricity based on which holes you plug the appliances in, instead of the full dose in all holes. I was hoping she would give me LED light bulbs instead, but she didn't have those. My air conditioner did not qualify for a replacement since I've only had it for about 8 years.
I had already forgotten about it until Mary called a couple of weeks later asking for the measurements of my refrigerator (length, width, height, depth, and which side it opened). That could only mean that I qualified to receive a free refrigerator! How is it even possible to get things for free nowadays, much less a refrigerator?? Well SCE has a program to help low income people save electricity by exchanging certain old appliances for newer energy efficient ones. It is called the Southern California Edison Energy Savings Assistance Program.
And how did I become a low income person? Remember I was jobless until May 2014, worked for barely minimum wage as a caregiver till August, then started earning better from August till the end of 2014. Even with the combined unemployment benefits and my wages for all of last year, I was still at the Federal Poverty Level. Thus the reason for my qualification for the free refrigerator. I received another email from SCE saying that their installation contractor named Maravilla Foundation will be contacting me to arrange an appointment to deliver the new refrigerator. Soon enough, I got the call and we arranged for the fridge to be delivered on Monday, May 18th, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. I also asked if they would take away my old one for recycling, and they said yes. Monday came and at about 1 p.m. the delivery people came, hauled the new fridge in, and hauled the old one out. They even installed everything. Thankfully I remembered to pack everything up the previous day so I could move them out of the old fridge quickly while the new one was being installed. When everything was said and done, I signed the delivery papers, thanked the men profusely for their service, then let them and their truck out of the security gate.
I am now an owner of a brand spanking new, energy efficient Whirlpool refrigerator, which is more spacious and has more shelves than my old one. Of course, returned all the food back in the new fridge afterwards.
Does being poor have its advantages? Certainly yes in this case. Thank you Southern California Edison! America, what a country! A country where it pays to be poor (sometimes).