One of the questions that seems to come up in discussions with cities concerning the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program, administered by Utility Service Partners, Inc., is “Why does the city have to enter a partnership and use the city logos?” I always answer this question with the word TRUST. Residents are constantly getting barraged with offers of services and products that seem to be associated with the city or some other trusted provider in the community.
Sadly, many people get deceived into thinking they are buying some ‘required’ service or product. When this happens, it hurts the resident, and when they reach out to the city for help, they are hit with the reality that they were scammed. In my community, unscrupulous operators would approach senior citizens, telling them that the city was requiring that all driveways needed to be paved and that they could do it to avoid the resident getting fined. After having some doubts with the excessive prices they were charged, they learned that the contractors were not recognized or licensed and were nowhere to be found.
The reason that the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program partners with the city and uses the city logo on mailings is to give consumers peace of mind in knowing that they are dealing with a reputable company. The city has reviewed the offer to ensure that what is being offered to the consumer is legitimate. Since water and sewer service lines connect directly to the city’s lines, it is in the best interest of the city to ensure that repairs are done to all code requirements and that the system operates as it was designed. It is also important that contractors working on these lines operate with the highest levels of trust and integrity. A fly-by-night contractor can do damage to the system and be gone without a trace, leaving the customer with an expensive repair.
Before the Internet, most services were done locally and you would have trust in a business by seeing the city business license hanging on the wall. You knew when you saw the city logo on that license that the city had inspected the premises and knew the owners could provide some help in the event you were taken advantage of. Businesses feared losing their business license because it meant that they could no longer do business in the city. Sadly, this is no longer true. Disreputable businesses can contact citizens directly and the city has no knowledge of or contact with these businesses and is powerless to help citizens in need.
That is why the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program is proud to associate with its partner cities. When a customer has a problem with a water or sewer service line, they should know that the repair will be done professionally and that the city will have inspected and approved the repairs through its code enforcement division. They will also know that the contractor will be fully licensed and insured and will be there if there is a problem.
Jim Hunt is a former Advisor with the National League of Cities Service Line Warranty Program. He is also the founder of Amazing Cities, an organization dedicated to excellence and leadership in government. Mr. Hunt writes, speaks and consults on issues that affect local government. He served for 27 years in public office and was President of the National League of Cities in 2006.