Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Me vs. ConEd, again

I feel like I just can't win with ConEd. Every couple of months it seems like they are out to get me. It wasn't enough for them to screw me out of gas for over a month. It wasn't enough for them to try to trick me into changing my electricity provider to a 3rd party that charges 2-3 times more. And even threatening to shut off our building's common area electricity didn't satiate their need for suffering. No, no, once again they had to come after me.

Each month, my ConEd bill ranges from $50-$65. Sometimes the bills are "estimated usage" and sometimes they are actual meter readings. But always in the same range. This has been the case steadily for over year. So you can imagine my shock when I got a bill this month for $325. This can't be right, I told myself. The explanation was this:

Dear Customer, we know that we have been sending you estimated bills for the past few months. Well we finally read your meter and (chuckle chortle) guess what? It turns out that we underbilled you for the last 4 months. By a lot. Yeah we don't know why you used so much more electricity this year than last year. No, we don't really care why and we don't think it's our mistake. Oh, and we know we already billed you our best guess for those last 4 months but we're gonna go ahead and re-bill you now! Yeah, we can do that. Isn't it great?! It's like your name came up in the screw you lottery this month. It's like winning...for us. And there's really nothing you can do about it. We have no oversight. Go ahead and call your politician whatever person. The Public Service Commission? Drowning in complaints like yours, and for much more money. Call us if you want! We'll just yell at you and tell you you're an idiot.

Should you choose not to pay, we will send the mob after you. Whoops, we mean collections. So just go ahead and pay this bill that makes absolutely no sense. Or else. Whoops, we mean please. And could you please bend over? It makes it that much easier for us to kick you in the ass.

ConEd xoxxoxoxo

Or in more business-y terms, ConEd said that they were able to read my meter for the first time in 4 months and they are re-billing me for May-September. The new cost? About $121 per month. I LIVE IN A 200 SQUARE FOOT APARTMENT ON THE FIRST FLOOR. I have a northern exposure -- hardly any light. I barely ever have to run my air conditioning. I don't leave anything on while I am gone during the day. My refrigerator is not running all the time. You have got to be kidding me.

The total bill was $454, but they applied the amount I'd been paying on my bills each month. So I'm left owing $325. I was so unbelievably mad. I called my parents; I called T; I called BFF M; I wanted to call the cops for robbery. I emailed the Consumerist tips line but never heard back (I guess even they have bigger fish to fry). I did research and found that I am unfortunately not the only one going through this. Then I called ConEd.

I had a lovely 45 minute wait time to practice what I wanted to say. I'll just summarize our conversation: he said there was nothing ConEd could do. That was on Saturday. The next day I called back and opened a bill dispute. Today a rep from their "high bill" department called me back. He tried pulling me into an argument, but I kept calm and stood my ground: I am disputing the bill. We scheduled a meter re-read and he recommended I get my Super to check the meter while I unplug everything to see if the meter is still running (if so, something besides my apartment is running to the meter).

There are three possible outcomes: 1 - ConEd discovers the meter was incorrectly read. 2 - Something besides my apartment is running into my electric meter. 3 - I am wrong, ConEd is right and I pay the bill. Update to come after next week's meter reading. What makes me so upset is that ConEd was allowed to send me "estimated bills" on a monthly basis. Why the hell are they allowed to do that? Shouldn't that be, oh I don't know, illegal? And who do I bother who can actually do something about this?


Anonymous said...

I feel for you. ConEd is to be loathed. How about paying your ConEd bill and still have your electricity turned off.

ConEd came by our building and replaced the meters, but they accidentally kept the "boot" on our meter after they installed it. Maybe if I hadn't paid the bills, it would have been easier to get ConEd back to take the boot off.

Since the account was in good standing they refused to believe they had mistakenly put a boot on the meter. Numerous employees, including supervisors, told me that “it wasn’t an emergency” and that unless a licensed electrician stated that there was a problem with the line from the street to the meter, they wouldn’t come back to look at the meter.

A very generous friend of ours, who worked for ConEd for 50 years installing meters, spent two hours calling ConEd, and they still wouldn’t come back to look at the meter. So two electricians and two days later, ConEd finally came back and whoops! took the boot off.

Oh yeah, and they have to replace the meter again because it's defective and won't give a reading.

p.s. If there are estimated readings, talk to your super and/or landlord because it means that ConEd has not been able to get access to the meters.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever get this resolved. They are literally doing the exact same thing to me right now. My highest monthly bill with them ever over 3 years was $171, now they say I owe $2,060 because they misread the meter over the past year. It highway robbery.

I would love any thoughts you have

Roxy said...

Unfortunately Anon I ended up paying the entire amount through a payment plan. In NYC you can't fight city hall, Time Warner or ConED. I'm so sorry to hear about your pain though.