UTILITIES: The Customer's Friend

A burned-out light bulb, as Inventor Thomas Edison knew, uses no electricity. Therefore, Tom Edison made it a rule for his power companies to replace burned-out bulbs without charge. It was an invisible cost on the light bill, but it kept the customer happy—and kept him buying Edison's power. Obvious as Edison's wisdom was, it was lost on many of his successors. Almost alone among big utilities, Detroit Edison Co. still gives away light bulbs. Partly because of this and similar consumer service policies, Detroit Edison, already the sixth biggest U.S. power company,* is growing so fast that it can...

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