As several readers discussed in yesterday’s post, utility, phone, and cable companies usually require your Social Security number in order to perform a credit check before activating service. You don’t have to provide it, but they don’t have to extend their services to you either. Here’s one reader’s explanation of how he was able to turn on water, electricity, gas, and an AT&T land line without turning over his SSN.
Reader Kyle says that his dispute with Comcast has resulting in something of a happy ending, though they’re still working out that pesky easement issue. Comcast is under the impression that it has an easement on Kyle’s property, while Kyle’s records show that they do not. According to Kyle, Comcast has agreed to mail him some paperwork about the easement and has offered him a credit of $500.
We’ve told you plenty about door-to-door salesmen who trick consumers into switching energy service companies. Now, in direct response to the deceptive marketing tactics of these ESCOS, New York Assemblyman Micahel Gianaris wants to pass an Energy Consumer Bill of Rights.
Westerners are stuck paying $3 billion to energy companies that colluded to gang-rape the free market. California, Washington, and Nevada were planning to return the money to customers, but the Supreme Court recently ruled that the industry manipulated the market, fair and square.
I live in a 750 square foot apartment in Brooklyn, NY. Per the lease agreement, my roommate and I signed to pay the heat separate from the rent. The first gas bill we received was $750, and the following gas bill was roughly the same amount. We knew that the price of gas was expensive, but for two people who make great pains to use the heat only when absolutely necessary, and occasionally use the stove to boil a pot of water, this seemed ridiculous. For all of 2007, we owe roughly $2000 in gas costs.
The email address for Chairman, President & CEO of NICOR Gas Company, Russ Strobel, is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reader Michael says:
I moved into a new apartment last month, and just received my first electric bill. It is run through a company called AUM Inc. (aum-inc.com), on behalf of my apartment complex. I went to pay the bill online (as I prefer to pay my bills) and I noticed something on the page. In fact, it’s on the page no less than 5 different times.
I heard a Con Ed commercial today on the radio, in the NY area. Thankfully, you may now report that you have no electricity, online.
David City, Nebraska residents were shocked to open their Aquila gas bills and find bills several hundreds of dollars over the norm, in some cases as high as $1,000. Aquila says that an inexperienced meter reader incorrectly read meters in the area too low for several months and now that the error has been caught, 1,100 affected residents will have to make up the difference. Customers aren’t too thrilled. Aquila is giving them three months to pay up, saying that all they’re doing is charging customers for the gas they used, that to do otherwise would be unfair to other Aquila customers, and that they won’t be shutting off anyone due to this billing snafu. Resident Cheryl Gregg was none too thrilled, saying, “A lot of companies that you go into, if they make a mistake, they take the loss. That’s kind of how it works.” What do you think? Should Alquila have paid for the cost of its mistake or is it only fair for customers to pay for the gas they used?
Mike, the subject of the post “When Zombie Utility Bills Attack!,” has an update for us:
Why play solitaire when you work for the utility company and can look up the mayor’s phone number? An Associated Press investigation reveals that casual snooping is widespread among employees who have access to large customer databases. According to one utility executive, it would be “difficult, if not impossible” to ferret out employees who use sensitive data for identity theft.
No doubt “taking” the backlash “seriously,” the Maryland power company that sent customers unsolicited CFL lightbulbs, and then silently charged them $.96/month for it, has apologized. The company will appear before the Maryland Public Service Commission tomorrow for a hearing. “We stand ready to take whatever corrective actions are deemed necessary by the commission,” Allegheny Power President said. Yes, they’re probably going to tell you to refund people’s money, you jackasses.
An electric company in Maryland, Allegheny Power, sent its customers some CFL light bulbs as part of a consumer education program. Sounds nice until you find out that they customers were charged $0.96 a month (about $12 a year) for the two light bulbs.
Colder temperatures and higher fuel prices are going to hit consumers in the wallet this winter, according to estimates from the government. Depending on your fuel of choice, heat could cost from 4%-22% more, though most households will see an increase of 9.5%.
If you have a complaint with a company in any of the following industries
California utilities may soon unveil new conservation campaigns thanks to an innovative plan unveiled last week by regulators. Under the plan, the Public Utilities Commission will set three-year efficiency targets. Utilities that meet at least 85% of the targets stand to collect rewards of up to $323 million. Utilities that fail to meet 65% of the targets could face penalties worth $500 million.
The PUC forecasts that the program would result in $2.4 billion in energy savings before 2008 and would cut about 3.4 million tons of carbon dioxide from California’s air.
“The introduction of our Great Value bulbs make CFLs a more accessible option for our shoppers as we strive to sell 100 million CFLs by the end of 2007,” said Wal-Mart General Merchandise Manager Andy Barron in a statement.
Trent at thesimpledollar.com is on a mission to cut the extra fat from his budget, and he’s found that one step is to reduce the amount of unused power that goes into his home. Everything you leave plugged in continues to draw a small amount of power, and although the cost for these small drains is minimal on a per-item basis, they can add up faster than you think.