“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” is likely what William Devereaux told his bosses. William was the Senior Director of PG&E’s $2.2 Billion SmartMeter program that is, until he decided to use a fake name (and he chose Ralph of all names), when he joined an online discussion group of people opposed to the utility’s SmartMeter program. Once he was outed as being who he really is (apparently his real name appeared next to his email address), he was then put on indefinite suspension by the company, which resulted in him tendering his resignation.
Mr. Devereaux explained to the The Chronicle that he joined the discussion group in an attempt to better understand consumer concerns with the utility’s program so he could “help out.” While his intentions might have been good, he really needed to be completely open and transparent about his identity, especially given that he was joining a group that has skepticism concerning the SmartMeter program. Opposition groups are the last group of people you want to pull a fast one on as they can be quite vocal. So in today’s high tech, social media world, the age-old cliché “honesty is the best policy” is good advice for all of us to follow when it comes to how we converse with our consumer.