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Old 03-24-2008, 09:06 PM  
stlchiefs stlchiefs is offline
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How to Challenge a Gas Bill - Please Help

I need some advice on disputing a Gas Bill.

Long Story, big problem:

I move into my current place back in August 2007 and set up gas service in my name. The 1 bedroom apartment has a gas furnace and stove. My gas bills were around $50/month for the first few months and the suddenly doubled in November. I know it gets colder and the heater was used more, but I questioned this and while reviewing my bill noticed that my usage was estimated.

I called the gas company and asked for an actual reading and they said they couldn't give me an actual reading because they needed to change the battery in my meter because they weren't receiving a signal. I set up a time and had the battery changed, but the Gas Co. still couldn't get a signal and said they needed to change the meter. I set up said appointment and had a new meter installed. The Gas Co. said they could take the old meter in, take it apart and find out my actual usage since I moved in. The Gas Co suspended payments on my account while they recalculated my payments and now about 5 weeks later I received a gas bill for $650!!!

HOW DO I DISPUTE THIS? During the winter I kept my thermostat at 65 and used spaceheaters in the room I was in, this can't be correct.

I did talk to the tech who changed out my meter and he told me that he knows of no way to read a meter by taking it apart and if the dials weren't turning they don't know the correct reading. He said I should definitely dispute any charges they try to tack on. This is good ammo, but my problem is my estimated bill had climbed to $200+ for a 1 bedroom, I need these reduced as well.

Please Help with any advice as I don't have this kind of cash off hand. As a student I don't plan for $600+ gas bills.
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Old 03-24-2008, 09:20 PM   #2
DaFace DaFace is offline
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Did they take an actual reading when you moved in? What about when they replaced your meter?

And how did they calculate the $650?
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Old 03-24-2008, 09:22 PM   #3
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Man, that sounds crazy. I work for Pacific Gas and Electric in California, so things may be a little different. I would first go down with all my facts straight and talk to a live person. Often we have customers come in with crazy bills and the clerks are able to take care of the problem right then and there. If the clerk I talk to does not help, I would ask for his/her boss.

If you get no where going through the company your next step is the Public Utilities Commission...at least that is what it is called in California. I am sure there is something similar there. Contact them and file a complaint. I would guess it can be done on line. I know when we receive a PUC complaint it gets the bosses attention. They do not like hearing from the PUC. They will have a small window of time and they will be forced to respond to the complaint.

I am a lineman and I totally back what the tech told you as far as not being able to take it apart and tell what the usage was. If it was not reading the usage there is no way to go back and get a reading! The only thing they can do is estimate and the old bills will prove that $650 is not a valid estimate.

How long has it been since you have had to pay a bill?
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Old 03-24-2008, 09:22 PM   #4
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Old 03-24-2008, 09:29 PM   #5
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Well, I probably won't be around, but I'd say your first step would be to just call them up and talk to them about it. Sometimes you'll get someone who's reasonable and can help you out.

If that doesn't work, you might ask for historical usage data for your apartment. If you can get an idea of how much the bills were the previous year, you should be able to get a decent estimate of whether or not $650 is reasonable. Of course, prices have gone up, so you'll need to keep that in mind, but that should at least let you know how far off they might be.
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Old 03-24-2008, 09:30 PM   #6
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http://www.psc.mo.gov/

That is the web site of the Missouri Public Service Commission. If you go down the left side of the home page you will see a tab "File a Complaint" and it will take you through the steps on line. It WILL get action. First I would go down to the office and talk to a real person, however.
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Old 03-24-2008, 09:58 PM   #7
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All I can tell you is if your gas company is like mine, you are screwed. Good luck.
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Old 03-24-2008, 10:20 PM   #8
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I would do as suggested and ask for a 5 year useage list for your apartment.

Unless you were cooking meth in the basement there shouldn't be any way that your bill could increase by that much over the time of a year.

Talk to the people at the office. All else fails contact a legal aid office.
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chief52 View Post
Man, that sounds crazy. I work for Pacific Gas and Electric in California, so things may be a little different. I would first go down with all my facts straight and talk to a live person. Often we have customers come in with crazy bills and the clerks are able to take care of the problem right then and there. If the clerk I talk to does not help, I would ask for his/her boss.

If you get no where going through the company your next step is the Public Utilities Commission...at least that is what it is called in California. I am sure there is something similar there. Contact them and file a complaint. I would guess it can be done on line. I know when we receive a PUC complaint it gets the bosses attention. They do not like hearing from the PUC. They will have a small window of time and they will be forced to respond to the complaint.

I am a lineman and I totally back what the tech told you as far as not being able to take it apart and tell what the usage was. If it was not reading the usage there is no way to go back and get a reading! The only thing they can do is estimate and the old bills will prove that $650 is not a valid estimate.

How long has it been since you have had to pay a bill?
Thanks for the info. I haven't had to pay the past 2 bills (while payments were suspended), so according to them I owe approx. $150 from the past 2 bills and the rest is due to readjustments from past bills.
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaFace View Post
Well, I probably won't be around, but I'd say your first step would be to just call them up and talk to them about it. Sometimes you'll get someone who's reasonable and can help you out.

If that doesn't work, you might ask for historical usage data for your apartment. If you can get an idea of how much the bills were the previous year, you should be able to get a decent estimate of whether or not $650 is reasonable. Of course, prices have gone up, so you'll need to keep that in mind, but that should at least let you know how far off they might be.
This was my plan. Because I live in a four-plex I also planned on trying to get the usage data from the other 3 apartments during these months and comparing this to the usage they are trying to pin on me.

The thing I'd really like to find is proof that there is no way they can find past data by taking apart the broken meter.
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stlchiefs View Post
I need some advice on disputing a Gas Bill.

Long Story, big problem:

I move into my current place back in August 2007 and set up gas service in my name. The 1 bedroom apartment has a gas furnace and stove. My gas bills were around $50/month for the first few months and the suddenly doubled in November. I know it gets colder and the heater was used more, but I questioned this and while reviewing my bill noticed that my usage was estimated.

I called the gas company and asked for an actual reading and they said they couldn't give me an actual reading because they needed to change the battery in my meter because they weren't receiving a signal. I set up a time and had the battery changed, but the Gas Co. still couldn't get a signal and said they needed to change the meter. I set up said appointment and had a new meter installed. The Gas Co. said they could take the old meter in, take it apart and find out my actual usage since I moved in. The Gas Co suspended payments on my account while they recalculated my payments and now about 5 weeks later I received a gas bill for $650!!!

HOW DO I DISPUTE THIS? During the winter I kept my thermostat at 65 and used spaceheaters in the room I was in, this can't be correct.

I did talk to the tech who changed out my meter and he told me that he knows of no way to read a meter by taking it apart and if the dials weren't turning they don't know the correct reading. He said I should definitely dispute any charges they try to tack on. This is good ammo, but my problem is my estimated bill had climbed to $200+ for a 1 bedroom, I need these reduced as well.

Please Help with any advice as I don't have this kind of cash off hand. As a student I don't plan for $600+ gas bills.
$200 for a 1 BR apartment? WHAT!!!!!????? I have a 5 BR house and don't spend that for gas.
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:21 PM   #12
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$200 for a 1 BR apartment? WHAT!!!!!????? I have a 5 BR house and don't spend that for gas.
Not to mention I keep it set at 60-65 degrees, primarily use space heaters and turn it off on the weekends when I'm gone (which is every weekend). Can you smell the BS?
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:25 PM   #13
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Not to mention I keep it set at 60-65 degrees, primarily use space heaters and turn it off on the weekends when I'm gone (which is every weekend). Can you smell the BS?
Don't what the utility is like in your area or even if you have a shot at winning but I would be challenging that tooth and nail. Something is VERY wrong with that picture.

Also, this is GAS ONLY right? Not gas and electric combined?
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Old 03-24-2008, 11:28 PM   #14
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Don't what the utility is like in your area or even if you have a shot at winning but I would be challenging that tooth and nail. Something is VERY wrong with that picture.

Also, this is GAS ONLY right? Not gas and electric combined?
Oh, I'll be fighting it for sure.

Gas only, no electric or any other utility combined.
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Old 03-25-2008, 01:17 AM   #15
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