If you're a Washington VIP accustomed to getting polite telephone calls when your gas or electric bill is overdue, be prepared to suffer the indignity of computerized dunning letters like the rest of Washington.
The Potomac Electric Power Co. and Washington Gas Light Co. have abolished their VIP lists.
The D. C. Public Service Commission asked the two utilities Feb. 1 to justify their computer codings of "judges, congressmen, senators, elected officials, appointed officials, news media personnel and certain business and financial executives" who received kid-glove treatment when their bills went unpaid.
Instead of computerized threats, these special customers got personalized notes from utility management personnel or telephone reminders to pay up. Not any more.
"We just mixed the names in with all the rest," Paul Young of the gas company said yesterday.
Both Pepco and Washington Gas emphasized in their formal replies to the commission that they still think the VIP lists are justified.
"The practices . . . are soundly based on logic and practical business considerations," Washington Gas said in its statement.
"The significance of this practice has been greatly exaggerated . . . the mere extension of a business courtesy is not unjust discrimination and, therefore, is not unlawful," Pepco echoed . "Nevertheless, adverse and misleading media publicity about this practice forces Pepco to conclude that a continuation of such measures . . . has now become untenable, and so the company will not contest the commission's findings" that the lists are discriminatory.
The VIPs covered by the order include 154 Pepco customers and 190 gas company customer who live in the District. The toal taken off the lists by the companies in their overall service areas "numbers in the hundreds rather than the thousands" at Pepco, a spokesman said, and includes 1,400 "potential and actual" customers at the gas company.