National Grid is an energy provider in upstate New York. In some areas, like Schenectady, they are the only energy supplier.
The government and National Grid will tell you that’s not true. They will tell you that there are a number of other energy suppliers in upstate New York. That you’re more than welcome to take your business elsewhere. That you can now deal with any number of suppliers and don’t have to deal with National Grid anymore. They’ve even got a handy-dandy list for both gas and electric customers that you can refer to to find an energy supplier you’d rather deal with.
When citizens got fed up with the constant rise in price and utter disregard for an already impoverished people, New York started a program called “Your Energy… Your Choice” which, they said, would allow other energy suppliers access to the power lines in upstate New York and give citizens the option to stop using (and, by default, supporting) National Grid. I looked into switching recently but found out that National Grid still owns the power lines. And instead of the other energy suppliers renting the lines from National Grid, customers have to pay a monthly fee to National Grid to use the lines.
You don’t even get a bill from the actual energy provider you decide to go with. All of the billing is done through National Grid. So even if you’re getting your energy from someone else, you have to pay National Grid for service. The only way to avoid dealing with National Grid in upstate New York is to live in an area covered by NYSEG, which, from what I understand, isn’t much better than National Grid.
As if all that isn’t enough, let me tell you about the bull shit we’re dealing with right now.
I’m currently on a payment agreement with National Grid. I owe a lot of friggin money. At least half of which is my ex’s fault, but that’s neither here nor there. I owe them money and I’m trying to pay it off as best I can.
But the economy sucks. Prices on food, electricity, natural gas, gasoline, housing are all going up and pay rates are staying the same. We’ve managed to cut a lot of unnecessary stuff out of our budget but shit happens. Emergencies come up. And sometimes the budget’s still pretty tight. Like now.
I had to sign a paper and send it back to confirm that we were agreeing to the arrangement. Because our finances are what they are and we don’t have access to a fax machine, I had to wait till the day before the paper was supposed to be in to mail it out so I got it in just under the wire. Which means their system had already sent us a disconnection notice that I received on or around June 7th.
On June 8th, I spoke to someone at National Grid about our payment arrangement. I asked if they received the payment arrangement paper and if I still had a disconnection on my account. The person I spoke to quoted me a bill due on June 19th (today) for the amount of $134.01. With our payment arrangement, that meant we owed $144.01 due today.
Over the past few days, we’ve received three envelopes from National Grid, all with different amounts paid and due. We were utterly confused. One invoice said $1700 had been added to my account and I owed $0. Another said that I owe $395.37 by July 5th.
The final notice we received said this:
We recently confirmed that you have been billed for usage on the wrong gas and electric meters from 10/24/08 to 05/20/09. This situation has been corrected. Your account was not debited for the usage you were under-billed for your electric service prior to 05/20/09. We have re-billed the gas portion of your account for your actual usage resulting in a credit in the amount of $633.76. The adjustments made are based upon actual readings off your correct meter and are in accordance with Public Service Commission Regulations.
They sum it up by apologizing for any inconvenience this might have caused me. Which, yeah. It’s a little inconvenient. I now owe more than I used to. But no biggie, right? Tack it onto the end and I’ll pay it off gradually with the rest, right?
They want $400 of it right effing now. They cancelled my bill of $134.01 and reissued a bill of $395.37 due by July 5th.
I’m not really understanding their logic, here. I’m already on a payment arrangement. The lowest payment arrangement possible according to the rules their collections agents have to follow. The one they reserve for people in poverty.
So how does it make sense to bill me for 119 days of service – that I would have already paid for if they hadn’t screwed up – all at once? And how is it even remotely fair? And how the fuck am I supposed to come up with that kind of money on the 5th when rent is due on the 1st?
So I called. And the first agent was convinced there was nothing she could do. So she transferred me to someone else. Who understood completely and transferred me to her supervisor.
It’s still not fixed. I’m going to have to call back again. Instead of lowering the amount they want to charge me right freaking now, they pushed it back a pay cycle. Which is fine for now. But then we’ll be at an even larger impass. How am I going to pay $395.37 + whatever my current bill is?
Doesn’t it make more sense to… tack it on the back and let me pay it off with the rest? Since it was, in fact, their mistake? They’re treating it like a past due balance… a bill I just didn’t pay. But it’s a balance they only just discovered. So why am I being penalized?