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Gas company funny business
Old 08-08-2007, 06:31 AM   #1
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Gas company funny business

Have spent time between two houses over past several months, one of which was utilized for 2-3 days per month between Dec and April. The gas bills however show increases in gas consumption (therms) in the period Dec-Mar at both homes in spite of having the thermostat turned to OFF. The houses are in the SE so no extreme winters.

We use a variable rate and just wondering has anyone else noticed a similar billing quandry. Are the gas companies just setting their own average flow rates based on national or regional averages and hoping that no one notices? I plan to meet with them and possibly write a strong letter to the utility commissioner.

Any similar cases?
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Old 08-08-2007, 06:59 AM   #2
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Do you have a gas water heater? If so, is it turned to "vacation" setting when the house is unoccupied?

It will take much more gas to maintain a 50 gallon tank of 130 deg F water in a cool house than in a warm house. The difference in therms used will be even bigger if the tank is in the garage.
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Old 08-08-2007, 08:48 AM   #3
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Are the gas companies just setting their own average flow rates based on national or regional averages and hoping that no one notices?
I beleive this to be the case. The meter is only read every 2 or 3 months.
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Old 08-08-2007, 09:31 AM   #4
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I beleive this to be the case. The meter is only read every 2 or 3 months.
If this is the case, wouldn't the bill say "estimated reading", and eventually be corrected when a reading is taken?
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Old 08-08-2007, 09:41 AM   #5
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It will eventually be corrected- yes that is true. Meanwhile get ready to shell out some real money. You'll get a credit several months down the road that you can charge against for the next year or two.

Don't get me started on utilities and meters and meter reading. I do have some delightful personal experience here.
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Old 08-08-2007, 09:42 AM   #6
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I was overcharged $300 by PG&E over 8 years ago during one winter. The California Public Utilities Commission got my money back. They keep trying to misread my meter and I've filed more complaints. The CPUC is near my work so it was easy to go visit their office until they started making you wait for an "escort" to their office and finally denied you any access to them except for being able to drop complaints in a mailbox or use their wall phone to hopefully get a representative. They only answer their outside phones during very limited hours.

They now split my bill into two rate periods to make it harder to determine the accuracy. Their last tactic was to totally deny my useage reading and make up their own although that useage does not match my 20 year history of use. At this time my complaint to the CPUC resulted in an "investigation" by PG&E that resulted in "we're right, you're wrong" and the CPUC is too busy to follow up because of budget cuts and increased consumer complaints.

So, if they can overbill every California customer $300 a year the bankrupt utility can give their managers $57,400,000 in bonuses like they did in 2003.
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Old 08-08-2007, 09:59 AM   #7
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It will eventually be corrected- yes that is true. Meanwhile get ready to shell out some real money. You'll get a credit several months down the road that you can charge against for the next year or two.

Don't get me started on utilities and meters and meter reading. I do have some delightful personal experience here.
Gee, I've always been able to read the meter myself and call in the reading. The utility company would adjust the bill accordingly. Guess you must live in an "unfriendly" state to utility customers.
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Old 08-08-2007, 03:51 PM   #8
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Gee, I've always been able to read the meter myself and call in the reading. The utility company would adjust the bill accordingly.
That's one of the tricks the utility plays. Sure they adjust the reading but they make sure one month you lose maybe 50 therms at a low base value and when they correct your bill they add the 50 therms in a new cycle and you go an extra 50 therms over your baseline and they charge them at a higher rate.

I was only checking my bill for conservation reasons when I discovered their secret plan to overcharge. Since, I have read several consumer advocates mention it but most people don't read, don't understand or don't care!
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Old 08-08-2007, 08:31 PM   #9
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Aren't these practices by the utilities "illegal"? Have any communities gotten together to complain in a class action way to the utility commission? Are there any legal minds who can post an unofficial plan of attack?
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Old 08-08-2007, 10:42 PM   #10
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That's one of the tricks the utility plays. Sure they adjust the reading but they make sure one month you lose maybe 50 therms at a low base value and when they correct your bill they add the 50 therms in a new cycle and you go an extra 50 therms over your baseline and they charge them at a higher rate.
This is not entirely accurate. When I had indoor meters and the meter reader couldn't get into the house, he would leave an "attempt to read" notice. So long as I called in the next day or two (before the bill was sent out) they would adjust that bill to the readings I called in.
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Old 08-09-2007, 09:47 AM   #11
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We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company. ...

Fire'd@51: You sound like the mouthpeice for the gas Company. Maybe you called and talked to some motivated, competant, and caring customer service employees. Some of us others have had a far different experience and our attitude reflects that.
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Old 08-09-2007, 09:59 AM   #12
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Fire'd@51: You sound like the mouthpeice for the gas Company. Maybe you called and talked to some motivated, competant, and caring customer service employees. Some of us others have had a far different experience and our attitude reflects that.
Sorry, I don't mean too. I'm referring to things that happened when I lived in NY state, which is a fairly consumer-friendly state. Of course, I was paying Con Ed approximately twice the national average in terms of cents/KWH.
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