How to dispute a utility bill
December 10, 2014 2:22 PM   Subscribe

I moved in December of last year. One year later my gas bills are still messed up. Dealing with the gas company for the last 8 months has not been productive. What are my other options?

I moved out of a previous apartment in December of 2013. I let People's Gas know I was moving. They did not shut off the gas at the previous address and no one moved in and the heat was left on all winter apparently. Even though I paid my final bill at the previous address, the account was somehow reopened and then transferred into my new account. I have called them every month since April and tried to explain the situation and dispute the balance transfer from the previous account. They did agree that I had informed them that I was moving and reduced the amount but it still leaves a crazy amount outstanding. When I asked for documentation showing what the outstanding amount is for they sent the last year of bills on my new account showing the transfers from the previous account, which is exactly what I'm disputing. I have written them and gotten no response and everyone I speak to on the phone says they need to have a supervisor call me later and then no one ever calls back. They are now threatening to send me to collections for gas bills for an apartment I didn't live in. I'm at a loss for how to proceed.
posted by mike_bling to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What state are you in?
posted by unreasonable at 2:28 PM on December 10, 2014

Response by poster: Illinois
posted by mike_bling at 2:28 PM on December 10, 2014

Best answer: Call your state utility regulators and ask them how to proceed. For Illinois, it looks like that would be these folks.
posted by pie ninja at 2:29 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

Get a lawyer. Go to a legal clinic if you have to, but get someone who knows the local laws and system on your side.
posted by ohisee at 2:48 PM on December 10, 2014

I would assume that in Illinois, you need to have the heat on all winter to prevent frozen pipes, but the property owner would be responsible for the bill in an unoccupied unit. Have you given them the owner's info? They should have it, but give it to them again.
posted by soelo at 2:54 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Twitter sometimes works in these situations. A factual but damning tweet like "Pissed off with @PeoplesGas because they billed me for three months after I'd moved out. Avoid!" might get you some attention quickly if they are social media savvy.
posted by Jabberwocky at 3:03 PM on December 10, 2014

Stop calling. Write to them. You need a written record at this point before the ombudmans office or anyone else will be able to help you.

Dear Customer Service:

From (move in date) to (move out date) I resided at 123 Main Street, an address serviced by People's Gas, account #1234. In the middle of (month) I called to inform you I was moving effective (move out date).

Despite informing you I was terminating service, vacating the premises, and paying a final bill, you have re-activated an account I closed, for a premises I no longer reside in, and continued to bill me on a new account #5678. I have rung you with the arrival of every bill in an attempt to resolve this but to no avail.

I dispute and reject any charges accumulated after my move-out date on (date) and request that you send me an adjusted statement reflecting a zero balance.

posted by DarlingBri at 3:06 PM on December 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

You could also try your elected officials. They often have people in their offices that can actually get heard in a place like a utility company.
posted by exogenous at 3:31 PM on December 10, 2014

Your state attorney general's office, specifically his or her team in charge of consumer protection.
posted by slateyness at 5:01 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Call their Assistant VP of Corporate Communications. I know it sounds weird, but the Communications people can often help you get things sorted out:
Kathy Hartman
Assistant Vice President – Corporate Communications
312-240-4380, Chicago, IL

There's also the Chicago Tribune's "Problem Solver" column:
John Yates:
posted by Joleta at 9:53 PM on December 10, 2014

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