I have been battling our local electric company for months now over what is clearly a billing error in the eyes of everyone except JCP&L. The first bill we got here in the new residence was $250. My previous lifetime average (about 30 years' history) electric bills were in the $50-$60 range. This house has fewer electrical appliances than anywhere I've lived before. And since the first bill, our bills have returned to the normal range.
Sounds like something was out of whack with the initial bill, right?
That's what I thought. In fact, I'm pretty damned sure that what happened was that we were tagged with the debit balance owed by the prior resident. She was on a budget payment plan, and at the end of the summer (when the residence switched hands), she probably owed money because the summer is the peak usage time of the year with the central AC. Somehow, that got rolled over to our first bill. OR the meter was mis-read - JCP&L told me the readings are 100% visual, no POS scanners, no digital images, etc. The meter reader person just eyeballs the little dials and writes down the number that becomes a figure in the calculation of your charges. I'm just guessing about the cause of the errors, but they sound likely. More likely than me spending $250 a month on an electric bill for a month when we weren't here full time yet, didn't have TVs hooked up yet, have ONLY electric fridge and microwave and the usual lamps and laptops plugged in.
I challenged the bill upon receipt, and it's been a very amusing struggle ever since. JCP&L refuses to look into it, saying only that there's no problem with the meter. I filed a complaint with the BPU, but they're state-appointed staff (as in "I'm just putting in my last 2-3 years before I collect my pension, and if I ignore this lady long enough she'll go away"). Today, speaking to the guy at the BPU, he told me in essence: "JCP&L says that's your bill and we have no reason not to believe it."
No, they didn't bother checking any records, just read JCP&L's response.
The guy (Douglas Dickson, of the Consumer Affairs division of the BPU, FYI) then told me that if I wanted, I could file a request for a hearing. "BUT BE AWARE YOU WILL PROBABLY HAVE TO GO TO A HEARING IN NEWARK IN FRONT OF A JUDGE . . . . "
He didn't say it in caps of course, but he said it sternly as if "You really don't want to do this cuz you'll lose anyway." And according to the BPU website, I get to incur the charges for the required court reporter whether I win or lose. Only in NJ.
After spending some time later today researching the success/failure of cases brought against JCP&L, I am waving the white flag, not taking it any further, going to pay the disputed amount, and try to move on with life.
Our utilities and BPU staff here in NJ are one effed up, incestuous, appointed bunch of eejits who apparently took their training in problem resolution from Comcast. (And I will mention here that Comcast is awesome these days compared to where they were when I used to complain about them weekly. It's possible all their eejit staff were fired and now work for the state?)
I could continue the fight. I have a good record of righting wrongs. I won a fight against a multi-national corporation once. But these days, I guess I have more important things to do and less time. I am going to give up knowing that I was right and not caring if I proved my point.
I think accepting things like this is the hardest challenge for me in life. I have always fought to prove my point when I'm right, to get the last word. But I'm getting better at realizing sometimes, it just isn't worth it - the time, the stress, the expense, or the brainpower.
It actually shows more strength to let it go.