PG&E’s Backwards Backbilling

Instead of immediately informing a customer she’d received inaccurate bills, PG&E threatened to shut off her power for non-payment of bills they hadn’t sent. With TURN’s help, PG&E backed down and stopped trying to punish their customer for their mistake.

When Pamela called TURN in October she was angry and frustrated. She had been disputing a PG&E bill for several months to no avail. PG&E claimed that she had not paid her March or April gas bills. Pamela insisted that she had paid, and had her check numbers, amounts paid and the proof that PG&E had cashed her checks to substantiate her claim.

Pamela spoke to a customer service representative, a supervisor and three different people in the Executive office. Although they verbally agreed that she had indeed paid the amounts listed on the April and March bills, she continued to receive letters from PG&E demanding payment for those months. In addition, she had received three 15 day disconnection notices and two requests to set up a payment plan–this after she filed a California Public Utilities Complaint through TURN’s website!

Click here to file a complaint.

This is not the first time PG&E has failed to follow proper back-billing procedures. In 2005, TURN won refunds for customers who had been unfairly back-billed in flagrant violation of PG&E’s tariffs.Thanks to a recent TURN victory, business customers will now enjoy similar protections to residential customers.

Because Pamela had kept all of her PG&E bills, she was able to review them carefully. She figured out that she had been under-billed for her gas usage in April and March. Instead of informing Pamela that a billing error had taken place, PG&E kept sending her bills.

When Pamela realized what PG&E was trying to do, she fought back, challenging PG&E’s right to back bill her beyond three months for what was clearly a company error. PG&E would not admit to a billing error and continued to demand payment.

With TURN’s help, Pamela was able to resolve her complaint with PG&E.

Armed with the facts, which are that PG&E’s tariffs only allow the company to back-bill for up to three months in cases of utility error, Pamela stood up to PG&E. Eventually PG&E backed down, and stopped trying to collect for their mistake. Receiving accurate bills issued at regular intervals is a basic consumer right and it is PG&E’s responsibility to establish and maintain accurate billing systems.