HOWTO: Dispute a Utility Bill

While it doesn’t compare to Michelle’s $27,933.55 bill, last year we received what can only be called a totally bullshit $170 electric bill for a month when everyone was out of town. The problem was–we had no idea how to dispute it. Call in our Uncle Mickey? Scream colorful metaphors into the telephone?

No! Thankfully, there’s actually a process to the utility bill dispute. If only we’d known. Oh well, Mickey’s parole hearing is in a month and he’s been on his best behavior.

Details, inside. has the full report. Here are some highlights:

1. Start with the source. Gather all your bills, account numbers, passwords, small children, pets, diet pills and a notebook to write down the customer service representative’s information. Figure out what you’re willing to pay–but be realistic. Don’t expect Ed McMahon with a big ass check. Also, call when it’s not busy and don’t be a jerk to the customer service person. Be polite, but firm. Take down all the customer service person’s info BEFORE you start the call. That way, when they act like a jerk, you don’t have to say, “Ok, douchebag what’s your name? I’m tellin’ mom!” You already know.

2. Get an advocate. “You can locate your state’s public utilities commission, which oversees utility companies, or get help through the National Association of State Utility Advocates (NASUCA). This organization represents the interest of utility consumers before state and federal regulators in court.”

“At the commission you can have an informal investigation and if you are not satisfied you can file a formal complaint,” says Janine L. Migden-Ostrander, Ohio Consumers’ Counsel.

There you have it. If your utility overcharged you, don’t just sit there and take it!


Related: The $27,933.55 Gas Bill


Edit Your Comment

  1. tz says:

    I would emphasize the state PUC first – they are usually in the phone directory under state government and they can usually get action, though I would do the first step.

    I would also add, you might want to organize your thoughts – write down your case, proofs, etc. For example, my local phone company, SBC, was switched to Sprint – I even got a phone bill, then a month later they disconnected sprint and reconnected SBC (with long distance it is called slamming, and I used that word when describing it), then cut off service for nonpayment of the bill for the month I was with sprint.

    I didn’t end up faxing anything but I had it all ready, and having dates and stuff helped.

  2. Papa K says:

    When the Gas company ‘accidentally’ triple charged me and told me that they would be happy to give me a near $600 credit, but could not refund my money, my phone calls went: Gas Company, PUCO, BBB, Gas Company informing them I’ve called BB and PUCO, and I had a check for the full amount in three days.