The more I am forced to deal with PG&E, the more reprehensible they prove themselves to be. Are they crooks, liars or merely incompetents?
My checking account has overdraft protection, so checks are not returned unpaid, not even electronic drafts. They will be refused if the payee uses incorrect information, such as account or bank number.
PG&E store that information, which worked fine for years. No so-called returned payments, until their crack programmers modified their Web site. Suddenly, the information was corrupted.
That resulted in payments being refused because my credit union could not identify the account, if the charge even went to them. There were no checks, returned or otherwise. I phoned after discovering this problem and the pleasant clerk said that they had changed their site, so I'd need to reenter my bank information. Okay. A company that cared about its customers might have warned me of this problem, unique to their Web site. I reentered the information and the charge went through, but they must have retained the garbled information because a subsequent payment failed.
I got a letter from Gracie Munoz, Supervisor of Credit Operations, dated March 15, 2014 [mailed later] stating that they could "no longer" accept my checks because two had been returned in the past twelve months. Reasonable, except I have not paid them by check for years, no checks were returned and it was their mishandling of transactions that caused the payment kerfuffle. The letter went on to give advice about having difficulty paying the bill, although it does not include anything about their Web site being a sinkhole for suckers.
After the March payment was unprocessed, I mailed them a check precisely because their Web site is unreliable. Frustrated by their slipshod programming, I wanted to make sure they got the money. Now they were refusing to accept the only method I could pay them with reliably. Oh, Munoz did say I could go to their office, wherever that is, and pay in cash, whatever that is. Again, that would be reasonable if they had a legitimate complaint, only they did not. If anyone had a problem and deserved compensation for his trouble, it was me.
They would also accept a money order or a cashier's check.
They threaten to cut my service, hardly the way to treat a "valued customer," which they can do because they are a barely-regulated monopoly. I have maintained this account for sixteen years and they always get their money. A legitimate business would cut me some slack, but they are not in that category. Patricia, the representative I spoke to on March 25th, insisted they would return my check when they got it.
So I charged my payment to a credit card, for which they have the audacity to charge an extra fee, ironically a "convenience" charge. No other sites charge for credit card use, probably because those sites have competitors.
A few days later, on March 26th, my check for $160 cleared. I was not surprised that PG&E had deposited it, after insisting it would be refused and returned to me, because they are either crooks, liars or incompetents, as stated above. Come to think of it, there is no reason they cannot qualify for more than one of these shortcomings, or all three. Such is the arrogance of monopoly power.
As a bonus, they charge outrageous rates for their services, which will only grow as they are fined for negligence. They just wasted millions of dollars installing so-called smart meters, which they claim benefit customers. If that were true, they wouldn't have to force them on us. FACT: last month, my "Energy Statement" billed my family for $136.50 in electricity for a period of 30 days (30 January - 28 Feburary 2014). This month, it is $87.25 for 31 days (1 March - 31 March 2014). That is almost exactly 36% less for the same two individuals occupying the same space every day. We did not go anywhere, give up cooking or do anything to conserve power. That sets up a red flag for me. If PG&E were a reasonable, honest company, I would be suspicious. Since they are not, I am certain there is something wrong with their "smart" meter or their billing or some other aspect of their wily operation.
Having described my problem with PG&E, I'm sure they would say, "At least we didn't blow up your home while you were in it," but here's the thing. If they changed their Web site so that payments would not go through, I cannot be the only person who was hurt in this way.
If the Public Utilities Commission is providing actual oversight of this company, which most Californians seem to doubt
PG&E should not be able to get away with blaming customers and threatening us for their "mistakes." In a fair world, PG&E would be threatened with losing their franchise guaranteeing them a profit, no matter how inept they are. While I do not expect that to happen, I do expect some sort of accountability from a company which, again, consists of crooks, liars or incompetents.
Make PG&E pay for their sins! Otherwise, why bother having regulators? We could save the cost of a do-nothing, unelected Public Utilities Commission.
©2014 Gary Tutin