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Answer Man: Phone glitch didn't help during Tuesday power outage

Dear Answer Man, once again, the power at my house in northwest Rochester went out, and once again, when I dialed RPU's emergency outage number, I got a recording that says, "This number is no longer in service...." I dialed it three times, same thing. I dialed the main RPU number and it was busy -- the message said, "Your wait time is less than 20 minutes."

This happened to me earlier this fall when the power went out. What the $#&!@ are you supposed to do when the power goes out? This is insane! PLEASE get an answer for us. Thank you. -- Mr. R.

Mr. R. lost power along with 10,000 other Rochester Public Utilities customers on that side of town for a brief time Tuesday. I tossed this lump of coal into spokesman Tony Benson's stocking at RPU and he came up with this reasonable response:

"During our outage on Tuesday, we experienced an unforeseen error from our phone system outside of RPU. We regret that this happened and know that this level of service is not what our customers expect from us.

"The outage lasted seven minutes and during the 30-minute block of time encompassing the outage and after the outage, we received 441 phone calls, and 141 additional customers used our IVR system. We are looking into what caused this phone issue and we are also looking at additional communication methods that our customers may want to use to communicate with us during an outage situation, including text and mobile applications."


Assuming that the outage was relatively brief -- about one-third as long as the 20-minute wait on the RPU main line -- I think my friend Mr. R. needs to pour himself a warm glass of eggnog, toss a log on the fire and calm down. The bar should be pretty high for $#&!@ at Christmastime.

FYI, the number to call in case of an RPU power outage is 280-9191. Good luck.

Dear Answer Man, do you know any more about Direct Diamond Importers , the Iowa firm that apparently was the victim of a rolling $500,000 jewel heist near Rochester?

I don't know much more, but I'll bet the FBI does. The theft occurred Dec. 8 at the Marion rest area on I-90, and if you haven't read the stories, I'll link to them online. It's a gem of a tale, and with the FBI and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension involved, maybe we'll learn the rest of the story before long.

Authorities have said only that Direct Diamond Importers is an Iowa company. I did some checking and there was a company by that name in Spirit Lake, Iowa, but their Facebook page is now defunct. There are also online references to a company based in Council Bluffs, across the river from Omaha, Neb. That business was founded in 2000, according to the Manta business website . There was a phone number listed; I called it and it turned out being an automated survey asking if I wanted to take a free Caribbean cruise, then requiring me to pay for it.

(Note to wife: Sorry, honey, I hung up.)

There's a rudimentary Direct Diamond Importers website but it's impossible to tell if it's connected to the Iowa firm. There's a photo of a diamond-encrusted ring, and the message: "Welcome to the Direct Diamond Importers website. We are a wholesale business offering fine jewelry at a great value with the added bonus of extraordinary customer service. We are in the process of updating our site. Please bear with us as we are working hard to accomplish this."

By the way, authorities say the victims were on their way home from a "jewelry and diamond trade show" in Chicago when the attack and theft occurred. I did some checking into jewelry trade shows in Chicago and there was one on Dec. 6 in Schaumberg, a northwest suburb -- the second annual Jewel Chicago Jewelry, Fashions and Accessories show , at the Renaissance Hotel.


No idea if that's the show, but if you have more information, don't tell me, tell law enforcement by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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