Negotiating A Late Payment Deposit With PG&E

TURN helps a member reduce a late payment deposit with PG&E to a fair amount she can afford. Learn how you can do it too!

Christine R. contacted TURN about an all-too-common problem, an unreasonable deposit demand from PG&E. In Christine’s case they wanted $750—an amount Christine, a senior citizen with limited income, told them she couldn’t possibly pay. But when she called PG&E they told her in no uncertain terms that if she didn’t come up with the money somehow she’d be shut off.

Luckily Christine contacted TURN. TURN’s Ana Montes explained that TURN had already filed a protest of this unfair practice at the CPUC and has also been pressuring PG&E to waive the deposits in individual cases.

She also advised Christine to try to get PG&E to agree to waive or reduce the deposit. Ana then contacted PG&E to point out Christine’s long history of regular payments as a PG&E customer, and how unfair the huge deposit was and to urge PG&E to reconsider the threatened shut-off.

    The advice worked, and Christine reported back:

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your help with my PG&E bill. I received a call from PG&E about my deposit. I explained to him about the deposit payments they wanted me to pay on top of my regular payments.

    I told him that I have been a customer for 44 years and I have not walked yet. I also told him that I could not afford to pay the $750.00 and asked him to reduce the amount or wipe it out completely.

    He stated that he would lower my deposit to $500.00 and I could pay $50.00a month on the 10th of each month starting on January 10th, 2010. He also said that if payments were made on time, in July I can call him and he will cancel the rest of the deposit.

    This would not have happened without your help. Thank You Very Much!

Consumer Tip
When you owe your utility money, the best thing to do is negotiate.

But don’t agree to a payment plan you can’t afford, tell your utility company that you want an affordable payment plan so that you can keep up the payments.

Keep pushing until you get one that is reasonable and you really can stick to. Your energy company can give you 12 months to pay.

Don’t ignore Robo calls. PG&E will let you know three days before a payment is due if you are on a payment plan.

Update: As a result of working with customers like Christine, TURN won important new consumer protections that limit when your utility can demand a deposit and how much that deposit will be. Utility companies now have to offer customers payment plans before they can shut them off, and can no longer require deposits for late payment or require low-income CARE customers to pay any deposits at all.