Complaints: Columbia Gas of Ohio

From: “Keith Baker”
Date: February 23, 2006 2:36:14 PM EST
To: tips@consumerist.com
Subject: Columbia Gas of Ohio sucks.

I can’t put it more clear then that…

Seems Columbia Gas of Ohio’s automatic payment system screwed Keith over and double-dipped after he switched apartments. His story and our suggestions for alternative gas options, and yes, there’s a bean joke.

Keith continues:

I pay bills like everyone else. I take advantage of offers, I pay my bills on time, and I set up an automatic debit payment (I eye my online web bank account daily) and keep an eye on my balance. I do not own a credit card (made that mistake in college, paid it all off, and vowed to not get one until I’ve landed a job that I can pay off the full amount of the card in a month).

Then things get weird. I recently moved (same city, different zip code) and shut off services at the old place and established services at my new place – easy, right? Until I get my bill. I paid for my last month at the old place, paid for two months at my new place, and I notice an odd charge on my bill.

It showed my payment for the last month, and my charges for the current month. (roughly $50 is what I owed). Then it had an additional line of $221. No statement of what it was there for, why it is there, or anything. Today, I check my bank account, and I notice an automatic debit for $221 from my checking to Columbia Gas. I call, check my bill (You owe $0! You have a credit of $532!).

$532? They’re taking money out of my account, and crediting me for it, but leaving me with less money in my checking for what reason now? According to Columbia Gas… they don’t know why! I spend about 20 minutes on the phone (and their customer service was WAY better then most) and they resolved the system was taking twice the amount for payments at my old place – even though I was no longer having service there.

In the end? I’m getting $228 back. Of $500+. So now I’m filing a complaint with P.U.C.O. [ed. Public Utilities Commission of Ohio] and seeing what other ‘options’ I have, since I had to tell them to give me my money back and not let all this money sit there with them, and canceling the ‘auto-payment’ option.

I just wish I had another option for gas. (damned apartment living)


Peace!
-Keith

Alternate options for gas:

1) Beans.
2) Burn all your automatic debt payments in a pile in the center of the room.
3) Blankets. See #1.
4) Oldie but goody: To save on energy costs, install curtains. Keep them open during the date and closed at night (lets sun and warmth in and keeps it in).
5) 4) Bundle up in some sweaters, sissy.

Readers, how do you keep warm and heating costs down?