Tuesday, March 18, 2008


A few weeks ago, we received a BGE (utility) bill of over $660 because the company had misread our gas meter for December and January and underbilled us. To make a long story short, we have the right to spread our payments over several installments without incurring any interest charges.

I called Michelle Chilton at BGE to arrange for payments. She has been very nice but said that she could not split our bill (which is now over $1,000) into installments because we buy our gas from BGE Home, which is a separate company. I called BGE Home three times and enventually was transfered to a supervisor named Camla Maces. She told me I could not be billed through BGE Home because billing is done through BGE. I told her that BGE said they could not handle dividing our bill into payments because BGE Home is our gas supplier. Camla told me that BGE had to do the billing. I said they said they couldn't. I asked Camla to talk directly to Michelle and she told she wasn't allowed to. I called Michelle and left a message, asking her to call Camla.

Then I called Liz Bobo, my state delegate, to help speed the process along. Liz's office told me to call Mike Fowler, a public affairs representative with Constellation. I left a message with him. He called back this morning to say he was working on this problem.

This (and trust me, you are hearing the condensed version) is where affairs stand now. Needless to say, I am bemused that neither BGE nor BGE Home is able to handle a simple billing situation. Apparently one of them must have the authority to split my bill into payments? I am also frustrated with the amount of time I have had to spend on hold with BGE Home and their lack response to my phone messages.

I have a questions: It has been suggested to me that we buy our gas from a different supplier? Has anyone had a good (or OK) experience with a different provider?

1 comment:

Bill Samuel said...

This is just one of the unforeseen consequences of an idea that looked good at the time - creating competition in the supply of natural gas and electricity. You get one bill for customer convenience, but the billing company (the one that does the distribution, which remains a monopoly) is not responsible for what the fuel supplier does. Each company must keep its roles separate, which can cause problems in situations like this.

I don't think it would really be different if your supplier was not a related company. I think it would still be prohibited for the two companies to work together to resolve things. And all companies make occasional mistakes.

You could, of course, simply spread out your payments over time, and probably would not get your gas cut off. However, you would be stuck with late payment fees - although still cheaper than borrowing money to cover the unexpectedly large bill.