NYSEG Turned Off My Heat During Wintertime, Breaking the Law

by Lulu O’Platt

             This article is for others who, like me, found their NYSEG bill so high they couldn’t quite make those payments in full each month this winter, and were shut off from service.  This winter NYSEG shut off my service and when I called the New York State Public Service Commission’s hotline I was stunned to learn NYSEG broke the law.  The employees at the New York State Public Service Commission asked if I wanted to file a complaint against NYSEG, and I did. 
There are an unknown number of times others have suffered from the illegal shut off of heat and electric service.  If you have, or if you know others who have, been the victim of NYSEG’s disregard for New York State law, please file a complaint with the New York State Public Service Commission.  Spread the word. 

              When you phone the NYS Public Service Commission they will ask you about the circumstances surrounding the shut off.  Be honest.  They will ask you to phone NYSEG and try to work out a payment plan or make arrangements.  Then call the NYS Public Service Commission again and tell them if the problem is resolved or not.  If NYSEG did not grant you an additional 15 days to make a payment, call the commission back.  The commission will contact NYSEG on your behalf.  You will see results. 

                In my case I knew I was not going to be able to pay my monthly bill because of unforeseen circumstances.  I needed an additional three days to pay the bill.  I phoned NYSEG the week before to be “pro-active” and explain.  It did not go well.  NYSEG told me they were warning me if I did not pay on time I would be shut off.  Even though I explained that I was calling so that I would not be shut off, they told me it did not matter. On a cold Monday morning in January I woke to no heat, no electric and no phone service because my phone service was through Time-Warner and relied on electricity. 

                I took every dollar and coin I had to NYSEG and begged them to please turn my service back on because it was winter, and my pipes might freeze or if I needed to call 9-1-1 the phone needed electricity.  The “customer service” person told me my pipes wouldn’t freeze because it wasn’t cold enough outside, and I could use my cell phone.  I told her I don’t own a cell phone. (The average temperature this January was below 30 degrees by the way.) After pleading with her for a few minutes she went to speak to her supervisor and when she came back she took the last of my money, more than 50% of the bill, and told me someone would be at the house to turn the service back on within 24 hours, but I had to leave the circuit breakers off.  That said, the shut-off caused me to lose time at work. 

              It was a co-worker who urged me to call the NYS Public Service Commission (NYSPSC) and find out what my rights were, so I did.  Imagine my shock when I was told NYSEG had broken the law when they shut my services off.  The NYS PSC employee advised I had done the right thing by phoning NYSEG prior to the shut-off date and trying to work out the problem.  Had I phoned the commission the week before they would have advised me to phone NYSEG, and after doing so, the commission would have contacted NYSEG and arranged for an additional FIFTEEN days to pay the bill.  I wanted three days, and the commission would have arranged for FIFTEEN days.  Remember that.

                  There are special circumstances that apply during the winter months.  The commission does not eliminate your bill, but a utility company is supposed to comply with NYS laws so that people do not lose their heat particularly between November 1 and April 15.  Remember that.

                 The next morning I waited, and waited.  Minutes before the legally required restoration of service within 24 hours was up someone came to turn the service on again.  As soon as the electric was restored my phone rang.  It was a call from NYSEG’s Kirkwood location.  A NYSEG employee was following up on my complaint filed with the New York State Public Service Commission.  Abrasive, she was irritated because had been phoning me for nearly three hours that morning and I had not answered.  When I told her my telephone was shut off by NYSEG when they turned off my electric service she had a lot to say about my ability to pay Time Warner but not NYSEG.  Actually she had a lot of opinions about me, my finances, my abilities to pay bills, and previous billing cycles.  She was one of the nastiest people I’ve been forced to listen to in quite a long time.  She wanted to know why I had phoned the New York State Public Services Commission and when I explained how all of this could have been avoided if they had just let me have 72 hours to pay my final bill, and that the NYS Public Services Commission agreed, she was enraged.  She thought the commission was all wrong.  (**Note:  The commission was sorry she has a problem with New York State Law.)

              There is something odd about a woman who works for NYSEG “Appeals” when her true calling is intimidating through abusive language and tone.  Once I had learned NYSEG had broken New York State law by shutting my service off, causing me to lose time from work, during January, when I had tried to work with them, I knew I could speak up.  The woman is employed by NYSEG and evidently paid to be cruel, judgmental and verbally abusive to customers who file a complaint about NYSEG’s illegal disconnection activities.  Remember that. 

              NYSEG is turning services off more frequently than they are legally allowed. Many of us trust NYSEG to respect and abide by New York State law. Telephone the New York State Public Service Commission.  Talk to the employees at the NYS Public Service Commission.  If you are a reasonable person, and if for any reason your NYSEG service should not be interrupted, the NYS PSC employees will intervene on your behalf with the NYSEG monopoly in our region.  If you have a household with a person with a medical condition, an elderly person, or a special situation such as a family member with a disability, there are good people at the NYS PSC waiting to help you maintain utility service (see below).
The next time NYSEG applies for an increase in rates, the number of complaints filed against them for illegally shutting off customer heat and electricity will not bode well for their application.  Remember that.

             Do you know anyone who: lost their heat between November and April 15, with a medical condition, or a disability, or someone elderly who lost service this winter, or who was shut off on a Friday? This is against the law. Tell the NYS Public Service Commission now. File complaints now.  Remember that.             

             Shutoffs are only permitted between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, excluding holidays, the day before a holiday and the two-week period encompassing Christmas and New Year’s Day.

              If you are unable to make an arrangement, call the PSC’s toll-free Emergency HOTLINE at 1-800-342-3355for assistance. Important information from, “Consumer Guide: Your Rights as a Residential Gas, Electric or Steam Customer under HEFPA” as found on the New York State Public Service Commission website (www.dps.ny.gov)

 

 

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8 Comments on “NYSEG Turned Off My Heat During Wintertime, Breaking the Law”

  1. ron kimball says:

    Nyseg is ripping several customers off..it needs to.change asap….I been at address 5minths..electric bill should not b 1700….

  2. Jennifer says:

    Okay, the author must have been extremely lucky because I JUST got off the phone with PSC, and they basically said that NYSEG is perfectly within their rights to shut off our power in winter even with a disabled adult and toddler in the home, and even tho the only balance we owe is what they came out here with a 72 hour notice to shut us off for. The idiot I spoke to told me that they are within the law to do so and can shut your power off at any time regardless of whether or not you have a past due balance because that’s what their fine print says on your bill – failure to pay any and all charges can result in termination of services at any time. Must be nice, and don’t waste your time with PCS. The guy I talked to did not care and took NYSEG’s side of the situation. Very sad.ar

  3. TJ says:

    NYSEG… it should be called NYSPEG, for NY State Prehistoric Electric and Gas. This company is the worst utility company I’ve ever had the displeasure of doing business with (and possibly the worst of ALL companies). Were I rich enough to afford my own wind turbines, I’d have them instead, and sell off my excess KWs to them instead, and use diesel-fired Generacs to avoid using their services altogether. This company is ridiculous, and should be investigated for their poor business practices.

  4. Lc says:

    I had the pleasure of being insulted and intimated by this same kirkwood nyseg lady yesterday and can’t believe she still has a job there if this a common way for her to be talking to customers because customer service clearly isn’t the job for her. Most companies will call starting with giving you their name and where they are from and this lady certainly did not give her name. What had happened to me yesterday was a power outage that I had reported at 1pm and sat waiting on nyseg all day and calling nyseg customer service because it was a holiday so the office was closed and there was no options calling the outage number to talk to someone. My cell phone only had 30% charge when the power went out I had no home phone because of having time warner also and the weather with the wind chill was cold below freezing and was getting concerned about my pipes freezing, Food spoiling and children getting sick. By 5pm I go to town to get kerosene for heat and see everyone has power that direction of the street and see no nyseg truck or workers anywhere in sight so I call nyseg again wondering if maybe they shut off my electric off on accident thinking it was my neighbors and again I’m told there’s an outage in my area so ok I keep waiting then by 7pm I’m checking the outage central the map and I have no notifications from nyseg at all and nothing is showing a outage. I report the outage again at 7:30 and this rude obnoxious lady is telling me it’s my fault because I didn’t answer the phone earlier when I was on the phone with nyseg at that time and trying to save my battery and telling me there’s no outage it’s just my house and I have to pay them out of pocket to come fix and then if it’s nysegs equipment then I’ll be reimbursed? So did I really want her to send someone out at this point I couldnt believe what I was hearing do I really want power or do I want to freeze all weekend and pay someone to fix their transformer? I’ve lived here the past 11 years and my power goes out at least a few times a month always being their equipment failing not mine never have I had to answer the phone to have them check out the problem or pay them when I’m paying them every month that’s why we pay outrageous delivery charges. I tell her yes I want them to fix it I have children she was not happy that her intimidation tactics didn’t work and after all of her accusing and bullying me saying it was only my house I had checked with the other neighbor and yes they didn’t have power all day either and the poor kid was stuck there with no phone no heating source or a vehicle to be able to leave with and had I not reported it twice then he would also be without power. When the nyseg truck finally showed up at 9:38 pm I had to tell the guy that we are not the only house because he seemed to be under the impression it was my equipment that malfunctioned. Thanks to this rude lady I now have a sick child all because she messed up and never investigated the first report and her not being happy that it being a holiday and Friday night that she actually had to do her job even though her job seems like a big inconvenience to her. Had I not been persistent and had I let her intimidation work it would be my family and the neighbor kid suffering not her or nyseg and who knows how many people have suffered due to this lady how many victims does she have that don’t know their rights or can’t stand up for themselves? Nyseg needs to find staff who’s qualified to deal with customers.

  5. K says:

    i would also like to know if you could only pay 1 bill why did you pay time warner and not nyseg? tv and whatever time warner provides doesn’t seem necessary but electricity is. sorry i just don’t get it.

  6. Eric Bentsen says:

    I live in an apartment building, and there’s half a dozen electric meters in the laundry room. I just found a pink slip with a 72 hour shutoff notice from NYSEG addressed to somebody in an apartment 2 floors up. They owe about $200, probably 3 months worth at $65/month. So it’s dated 12/20/2016 and the shutoff threat is for FRIDAY 12/23/2016, just before CHRISTMAS! This appears to be clearly illegal according to the article above, but enforcement could be lacking as noted in the comments section. A shutoff would likely kill the hot water heat for that apartment since there would be no electricity to run the thermostat, maybe. That would lead to frozen and burst heating pipes in a matter of days, then a likely shutdown of heat for all the apartments in this half of the building, and it’s a holiday weekend with no help anywhere. I’m about to call the property manager tomorrow to warn her about this but I don’t know there’s anything she could do if she even cared. All of us are hostage to a NYSEG shutoff over Christmas holiday! Help!

  7. Greg says:

    They showed up at my door this morning when it’s 17 degrees out to shut me off over 115.39. When I mentioned it was illegal to shut me off they said it was not illegal and that the whole bill is 185 dollars but they needed 115 to avoid disconnection.


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