It may sound like a silly question, but knowing how to contact your utility company for issues on your account, can help you get the best customer service. I hear stories all the time of people complaining about customer service they received at their electric company. I have witnessed it too. Does this sound familiar? Calling customer service, talking to a robot, being transferred, waiting, being transferred again, then finally speaking with someone who doesn’t have any idea how to help you. Well, fear no more! This is how you contact your utility company to get RESULTS!
Who should I contact?
Depending on WHY you are contacting your utility company will determine WHO you will need to contact. Below are some common reasons to contact a utility company and who to contact:
If you are a business – be sure to contact the business customer service, not residential.
Sales Tax Exemptions: Email or Fax your exemption certificate to the utility company along with a note requested tax exemption. Follow up with a phone call to ensure they received the request.
Simple Billing Questions: Your best bet is calling customer service. Usually the customer service reps at utility companies can access your bill and clear up any reasons for concern.
Complex Billing Questions Part 1: If you have a complex billing question or were not happy with the answer you received when calling about a simple billing question, you are going to have to do some work. Getting in touch with billing specialists can be difficult, but it is possible. In some cases, you will never speak directly to the specialist and you will have to relay your message between a middle man (one of the basic customer service reps). With complex issues, I would do what I consider a “communication blast”. A communication blast will ensure that you are going to be heard. To do a communication blast, you simply email, call, fax AND (if you are up to it) send a letter to the utility company. When sending a communication blast, be sure to include AS MUCH DETAILED INFORMATION AS POSSIBLE. Do not assume the utility company knows anything about your situation, even if you have already talked to someone.
Complex Billing Questions Part 2: After sending the communication blast, follow up with the utility company in a week or so to make sure they got it. What they do is notate the account with any activity that has occurred. So you can continue to call customer service and follow up until you get an answer to your question.
Complex Billing Questions Part 3: If by this time you haven’t been successful in getting the answer you are looking for, write a certified letter to the “Billing Manager” at the company you are contacting detailing all the trouble you have gone through and explaining the question you need help with. Follow up in 1 week to see if they go the letter. If that fails, contact the Public Utility Commission and file a complaint against the utility company. The Public Utility Commission in your state regulates the utility company and has the responsibility to resolve all consumer complaints.
EMERGENCIES: For utility emergencies such as broken gas pipes, either call 411 or 911. For power outages, you will need to call your TDSP or Wires Company. In deregulated areas, the wires company is a separate entity from the billing company or “Retail Electric Provider”. The company that controls the power lines will be the one you contact to get your power back on.
New Service: If you need new electric service immediately, you can call your retail electric provider to set that up. If you need new service in the future and you are in a deregulated area, you can shop online for your electric contract. In Texas the Power to Choose website is the government sponsored website for consumers to shop at.
New Service – Business: If you are a business, shopping around for electricity can also be done online, or you can hire a professional energy broker to do the shopping for you. Often-times, brokers get better prices than what you would get if you just call up a utility company for a price. But be sure to ask your broker what their fee is so you know what you are paying for. Brokers get to add a margin to the price per kwh, and that small margin can add up to big bucks if you consume a lot of electricity.
Adding Meters and Other Services: In most cases you should contact the TDSP or wires company to have new meters and other facilities installed.
Other techniques: In the age of the internet, there are other new ways to contact your utility company. Most companies have facebook and twitter pages. Feel free to send your company a facebook message or a tweet to get their attention. Most of the time they will respond. Lastly, there is old fashion face to face. If your company has a physical office near you, hop in the car and drive down there and tell them what you need!
I hope by now you are aware of the many ways you can contact your utility company. Whether you are a business or an individual, you should have access to great customer service, but with utility companies, that is not always the case. In my experience, the best way to contact them is by a formal letter. It may take longer but I always get a response. Just another handy tip from the Utility Hacker.
Have you had a bad experience contacting your utility company? Share in the comments below!