The city of Red Oak is making it easier and less time consuming for residents to order utility services through its new implementation of 2TurnItOn Inc. online services.

The city council met Dec. 10 and approved an agreement with the company that could go into effect within the next two weeks.

“We will kick off the service when staff completes all due diligence required to ensure a flawless activation,” City Manager Scott Albert said. “The anticipation is the kick-off could be within the next two weeks.”

Albert has had prior experience working with the company.

“My first acquaintance with 2TurnItOn was during my tenure in Celina, Texas. We approved the contract with 2TurnItOn; however, we never activated the service due to issues with the city’s Web site,” he said. “I decided to introduce the service to the (Red Oak) council when it was apparent, after a meeting with utility coordinator Sherry Edwards, that she had an intimate knowledge of the company’s services.

“Other factors we investigated prior to recommending the service to council included contacting other cities current ly utilizing the service, reviewing IT and legal issues associated with the service and contract,” Albert said.

The company’s director of municipal relations, Greg Taylor, said he thinks the online service is a good idea for the city for various reasons.

“As more and more people are acclimated to using the Internet for finding information on conducting business, it will only make sense to have the capability to allow new residents to order their utility services via the Internet,” Taylor said.

Albert said he too feels this is a good factor for the city and its residents.

“One of our goals as a staff is to continually look for improved processes and procedures to increase our efficiency in delivering services to the customers,” he said. “The ability of customers to access the city’s Web site to activate their utility services will save the customers and city time and resources. Basically, the 2TurnItOn service eliminates a lot of hassle associated with connecting utility services by allowing the resident or business to access one stop over the Internet in which they can connect all their utilities.”

According to the a memorandum, the company provides free services through a secure Web site to order water, sewer, trash and other utility services online at no cost to the resident or city. The service includes access through the site to a directory of utility services providers in the city and a description of their service offerings.

By using the free site, consumers can compare the service offerings and rates of utility providers side by side and choose the ones that best suit their needs. The company itself does not sell or resell utility services.

The system is set up so customers can order any services that are listed on the company’s Web site at no cost. The provider may require a deposit, but 2TurnItOn provides the service of ordering the utilities free of charge.

To order services, a customer logs onto the company’s Web site www.2turniton.com directly or through the city’s link www.redoaktx.org. The customer enters the address he or she is moving to, selects residential as the type of services requesting and clicks the next button. After the address is verified, the customer continues to the residential services available page, selects the type of service (water, electric, phone, Internet, VOIP, TV/cable or bundle of services) and then selects the plan.

Some services, such as water, may only have one plan or, as with electricity in deregulated areas, the customer can compare plans and select the one he or she wants. After selecting the services, the customer fills out one application, which usually takes about three minutes. The system will e-mail the customer a recap of what they offered and then notifies the providers of the new order. Anytime the order has a change of status, the customer is informed with an e-mail address.

Although 2TurnItOn Inc. is a separate company from the providers, its ordering procedure is quicker than most, Taylor said.

“The difference in using our services as opposed to ordering from each individual provider is in time. It takes one application with us in around three minutes and the customer could be on hold with the providers for hours when the time is cumulative,” Taylor said, explaining the pros and cons of the services. “We provide a customer service representative for the city, 24 hours a day and seven days a week at no charge. We also provide a safe, secure Web site where new residents can order utilities. We help enhance the value of your city’s Web site, and then give the new resident a warmer perception of the new city to which they are moving. We provide this service for free at no cost to the city or the resident.

“The only con is we do not have every electric retailer listed on our Web site,” he said. “Some of the retailers were with us; however, they did not offer the kind of customer service that we expected and we removed them.”

Headquarted in Plano, the company – which saw its inception in 2000 – serves more than 100 cities in four different states.

“We want any city regardless of the county they are in to use our services. The only requirement is that the city must have a Web site. Glenn Heights and Mansfield are current partners. We are somewhere in the process with Grand Prairie, Pecan Hill, Cedar Hill and Midlothian,” Taylor said.

According to the memorandum, the city does not guarantee pricing for utility services available through the company. For more information on pricing and service plans, contact the company or desired service provider directly.

“Since the city does not price any utilities other than the water, sewer and garbage service, it would be unrealistic to assume that the city would be responsible for the pricing of phone service provided by a private company,” Taylor said. “And as I mentioned earlier, we do not list every electricity retailer in the deregulated markets.”

E-mail Chicarra at chicarra.dense@wninews.com.