News10NBC Investigates: Despite paying on time and calling in meter reads, Penfield man hit with $12K RG&E bill

Penfield man receives RG&E bill for more than $12,000

Penfield man receives RG&E bill for more than $12,000

PENFIELD, N.Y. – A Penfield man who has been paying his RG&E bill on time every month was shocked when he opened up his June bill to find a balance of more than $12,000.

For more than a year, News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke has helped to straighten out RG&E billing issues for more than 100 customers, saving them thousands of dollars. 

Mark Miles watched some of those stories and learned from them.

“I’ve been diligently paying all along and trying to stay on top of it, calling in all my meter reads and everything else,” he tells News10NBC. 

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But in June, Miles went online to pay his bill.

“Lo and behold, I checked my balance and it was almost $13,000,” he says. “I haven’t been able to eat, sleep. Where’s this money going to come from? Do I actually owe it?”

Miles called RG&E right away and was told to take a picture of both his gas and electric meters and send them back. When he did, “she calls me back and she says, ‘I’ve got bad news for you. They’re correct. I was hoping they were misread but they’re correct. You actually owe that,’” he recalls. 

Miles was told he hadn’t had an actual meter reading in more than a year and $12,000 was the difference between the estimated and the actual usage.

This, despite him upgrading all his appliances within the last three years and diligently paying his monthly bills and calling in his meter reads. He says the customer service representative said all she could do at that point was to transfer him to collections. 

“What’s next? What do I do? Who do I reach out to? You” Miles told Lewke. “What repercussions do I have? It’s not like I can switch services.”

Miles’ electric meter has always been in the backyard, so there’s no reason why an actual reading should have taken a year. And even if it did, Miles questions why RG&E didn’t acknowledge the readings he called in.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for RG&E tells News10NBC, “In some instances when a customer receives a large bill, some of the estimated reads provided by the customer may be inaccurate as opposed to an actual read by RG&E. Which is why we encourage customers to reach out to customer service immediately to obtain an actual read. It is the customer’s responsibility to reach out to us if they have immediate concerns and questions regarding their bill and if needed, make payment arrangements.  Not calling to reconcile or make payment arrangements is likely what the customer in this story experienced. Instances like these are what smart meter technology is designed to alleviate. Smart meters will produce monthly bills based on actual energy use, as opposed to estimates. We know there are many factors that can impact a customer’s bill which is why our customer service representatives are committed to working with them to help them take the necessary steps to make payment arrangements and help customers manage their energy costs. Customers with specific billing questions should contact 800.743.2110.” 

After Lewke left Miles’ house, a crew from RG&E showed up. Miles says that both his meters are being inspected and he’s been assured his bill will be adjusted in the next few days.

RG&E is required to send a letter to customers who haven’t had an actual meter reading in a while, warning them that a reconciliation is coming. But those letters don’t say the amount owed could be tens of thousands. News10NBC continues to investigate, along with state regulators, why it takes RG&E so long to reconcile some of these bills and why the estimates in so many cases, are so far off.

If you’ve run into a billing or customer service issue with RG&E, you should also file a complaint with the New York State Department of Public Service here.