News10NBC Investigates: RG&E attempts $12,888 auto-pay withdrawal from Greece customer

News10NBC Investigates: RG&E tries to bill Greece family nearly $13,000

News10NBC Investigates: RG&E tries to bill Greece family nearly $13,000

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A family from Greece has been auto-paying their monthly RG&E bill for years, but on the week of Christmas, RG&E dipped into their account for a December payment of nearly $13,000. 

Alicia Latomasi has been paying her RG&E bill on-time, every month since she and her husband moved into their Greece home in July of 2019.

“We had it on autopay, just to make it easy for us,” she tells News10NBC.

It was easy until last week.

“Everything has been going great, no problem until we received a letter from our bank indicating that RG&E tried to debit $12,888.91 from our account,” she says.

Latomasi immediately called RG&E.

“I was transferred three times from customer service, to customer care, to client billing and then at that point they were trying to transfer me to credit and the call was dropped during that time,” she recalls.

A day after RG&E tried to deduct nearly $13,000 from her bank account, Latomasi got a letter from the utility claiming it hadn’t done an actual meter-reading in 51 months — despite the fact both of her meters are outside.

So, the bill was apparently a reconciliation of the difference between the estimated bills the Latomasis have been paying for the last four or more years, and their actual usage. 

“My meters are both outside, and my husband and I both work from home,” Latomasi says. “So, at any point, if there was ever an issue accessing a meter — which one is right on the outside of our house — one is right on the back of the house. If there was ever an issue, someone could have come to the door and we would have gladly given any access needed. It’s negligent to not read their own meters. A customer reading is a courtesy. A reading from the company is a necessity.”

Latomasi has been going back and forth with customer service about the bill. She says RG&E offered a 15% discount on the balance and a payment plan. But at this point, she doesn’t even trust the calculations and she certainly isn’t going to allow RG&E access to her bank account anymore.

“That was the first thing I did, was take it off auto-pay. I would recommend not being on auto-pay for this very reason. You try and do something to make it easier but in the end, it really could have bit us,” she says.

“RG&E is thoroughly investigating this matter and working with the customer to resolve,” A spokeswoman for RG&E tells News10NBC in an email.

After News10NBC reached out to RG&E on Latomasi’s behalf, she got a call from a manager. While the utility claims the bill is accurate, it offered a 75% discount because it took four years to reconcile the bill.  RG&E also offered a 51-month payment plan on the remaining 25% — the same length of time it took a meter reader to do an actual reading. 

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke asked RG&E whether it has a system in place to flag residential bills that seem excessive and review them, perhaps even call the customer to warn or explain. 

The RG&E spokeswoman referred her back to the one line statement provided above.