Consumers are getting ripped-off by one-and-only residential power company in Illinois, by BIG BULLY - ComEd. ComEd demanding that customers over-pay, collecting hundreds of dollars above-and-beyond their bill (electrical usage). Stop ComEd's Unfair Business Act by filing a complaint with the ICC - Illinois Commerce Commission. Stop ComEd from turning your lights off- by filing a complaint to the ICC.
Here I go again, protesting against a messed up problem that affects millions of consumers…
After eight years of being a consumer of ComEd's, our power was turned off (Prior to this hardship my family is going through, I had always paid my bills on time- I was a good payer). I rushed to pay my bill the day they shut my power off. On the next day, my power was turned back on. My bill was in excess of $1000, because I was facing foreclosure on my home, and I was giving most of my money to the mortgage company, to get us in good-standing, so we can have our loan reinstated. And we succeeded- our load was modified and reinstated a couple weeks ago. After paying the ComEd bill that was over $1000, a couple weeks later, I received a letter from ComEd, demanding that I pay them three down-payment's, because since my power had been shut off (let me remind you, just one time in eight years), I was no longer considered a good customer, but rather a high-risk customer; not even taking into consideration that the same day my power was shut-off, I paid in excess of $1000, the entire past due amount.
A month later, they shut off my power again (that was last month), because I was late to pay my bill; but more importantly, I was late sending them their new requirement of the down-payment. I admit that times are difficult for my family. We struggle to pay our bills on-time. Literally, we are living week-to-week.
Late last year and early this year, my husband and I lost two businesses. We have built our lives earning a six-figure income. For the first time in my life, I am collecting unemployment benefits. My husband now labors, and makes less than half of what he earned in his professional career. Between my husband’s income and my unemployment checks, we gross about $50, 000 annually (that figure doesn’t even reflect taxes and medical benefit deductions). We are a family of five, and we don't qualify for welfare- It just doesn't add up.
Getting back to the subject of ComEd, when they turned my electricity off last month, the very same day I paid the bill PLUS the first installment of the required $108.33 down-payment, so that they would turn my electricity back on. And the following day, my power was on again. Twice they turned my power off; and twice did hundreds of dollars worth of food spoil in my fridge and freezer.
My current bill had not been paid on-time either. We are still trying to recover from putting all are money out to the mortgage company and the $1000 to ComEd. My electricity was scheduled to be turned off yesterday. I called ComEd few days prior, and I disputed the down-payment. I explained that I felt it was unfair to expect more money than my bill, and told them I would gladly pay them only my bill amount, and would do so that day (during the phone conversation). But they would not budge. They already had over a $100 of mine just setting in an account that I could not touch or use. These days, I just don’t have an extra $325 (total of three down-payments) to be setting in ComEd’s bank account. I had explained to ComEd... "That’s my money, which could pay my car note, my auto insurance, or even food for the family for a couple weeks".
This time, I paid only my bill portion (even though they still have an extra $108 of mine), and I also filed a complaint with the ICC - Illinois Commerce Commission. And to my surprise, since I filed the complaint against ComEd to the ICC, regarding the demand of the down payments as a condition I have to meet in order to have electricity come to house; ComEd cannot turn my electricity off while a complaint is open. I found that out from ComEd after I paid my only bill portion using my on-line banking. She (ComEd Rep.) was very rude when I called to let her know I only paid the bill-portion, and inquired if they were still going to turn my power off the next day. She would not answer any of my questions, only provided comments with a rude tone, that because I filed a complaint with the ICC, that my electricity would remain 'ON', until the dispute was settled.
There are no other residential power companies in Illinois to choose from, so ComEd has zero competition. Why should I or anyone else have give to give to ComEd $325 extra, to sit in a bank account of theirs? I think it is an unfair practice. I imagine that if ComEd did have competition, they would design a competitive plan, with competitive rates, and offer economical solutions to those that are facing hardships, in order to keep their clients, as well as keep us satisfied- Don't you think? The phone companies, wireless and LAN lines; the cable and dish companies; and internet companies all compete for our business. And some do a good job- by providing to us options to choose from; some customize their services to fit our budgets; and some offer really good customer service, treating us with respect and valuing us as customers. Even other industries, like lenders and insurance companies, provide us various options, as well as grace periods. But since our choices are limited to either, ComEd or candles, we are powerless- no pun intended. They tell us to jump; we ask "How high?" They tell us to bend-over, and we do. We have to, or they will turn off our electricity. And we have to OVER-PAY them, or they turn off our electricity. No grace period; no alternatives that are reasonable; no power!
What ComEd is doing... it is unfair; it is not fair at all; it is a RIPP-OFF. They should be ashamed of themselves, by taking advantage of the poor, and even more so, because we are in a recessed economy. I've think I’ve been a pretty good customer of ComEd’s for almost a decade. Never in my life-time, have I been through a recessed economy like this. It's not just me, but millions of people (and businesses) are struggling- some already lost the battle; some live day-to-day; others live week-to-week; and most are living paycheck-to-paycheck. I am not the only person that is being demanded by ComEd, to pay more than I owe. ComEd is ripping us off!!! In times like these, we should be helping one another, not making a bad situation worse. Things will get better, in time. But, I don’t think we’ll see better-days anytime soon.
I am very curious, and would like to know how much money ComEd has collected, above and beyond, what their customer’s actual bills were.
They have the nerve to take advantage of...
1) having no other competition; and
2) forcing people to give them more money then what they owe- otherwise they will turn their electricity off.
Each time I called ComEd to dispute the down-payment (as well as pay my bill), they would referred me to an outside source- a utility assistance programs designed to help people through a hardship- L.E.A.P. (Low Income Energy Assistance Program) is the program I was referred to in Will County. Of course I called them, but L.E.A.P. has not been, nor will not be accepting applications for months, because of depleted government funds. And this funding problem that L.E.A.P. is experiencing, should be expected- As the economy continues to tank, more and more people are in need of help, and looking for resources to help them through their hardship. Not only is ComEd wrong, but the government should step-up, and provide the additional funds, to the programs that are designed to temporarily assist low-income families.
Furthermore, the day (first event) that ComEd turned off my power; they had the nerve to...
1) tell me that it could take several months before L.E.A.P. could provide assistance. That tells me that they already knew that the government program was lacking funds, and it really wasn’t an option for me at the time. And...
2) charge me a convenience fee while paying my $1000+ bill over the phone. There was absolutely no convenience provided to me. They could only process one payment per day. And my debit card would only allow me to spend up to $500 per use. So, I had to pay a convenience charge on the phone, and another at an authorized agent where I physically had to drive to, in order to process my payment.
I disputed the convenience charges, because I disagree that a convenience was not provided to me. I was told that a supervisor would call me to discuss within 72 hours- but I never received that call. My husband also talked to ComEd last week, regarding the shut-off notice, and again they said they would call back within 72 hours. Yet again, ComEd failed to call back.
Every customer of ComEd’s should know where to file a complaint against utility companies. If anyone else is being RIPPED OFF BY COMED, they should know that they can file a complaint with the ICC. (Every state has a government agency that handles complaints regarding utility companies). Filing the complaint stopped ComEd from being allowed to shut my power off (temporarily), and hopefully, it will stop them from unfair collection of money that is not due to them.
Surprisingly, a ComEd representative actually called me back because I had made an official complaint with the ICC- Wow! Illinois consumers can file a complaint online, by phone or mail with the ICC. Contact information and the on-line complaint form for the ICC is located on their website: http://www.icc.illinois.gov/consumer/complaint.