Public packs hearing on RG&E billing, customer service issues

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Armed with complaints, people filled up Rochester’s City Council chambers to air their grievances Tuesday against RG&E.

News10NBC investigative reporter Jennifer Lewke, who has been reporting on these issues for months, was part of that crowd.

The New York State Department of Public Service organized the hearings in response to a stack of complaints against the utility and come after an extensive News10NBC investigation. Customers have reported erroneous bills and hours spent on the phone trying to fix them.

“I don’t have time in my life, working 60 hours a week just to make ends meet, and like other people have to take from Peter to pay Paul to keep the heat on, I don’t have time to be on the phone with you guys,” customer Theresa Wilson said. “Where’s my bill?”

“Every time I call back to see why it hasn’t been rectified yet, I have to start from scratch, go through the whole process over again, get transferred from department to department to department,” customer Bridgette White said.

RG&E has blamed its billing and customer service issues on not having enough staff.

“It’s time to right the ship by putting the customer first. I am the customer. I’m not always right but I’m always the customer and since I have no alternative choice, I look for this body to take strong action to right the ship that RG&E and its ownership seem to demonstratively be unable to do,” customer Patrick Fox said.

Monday afternoon, the utility said it is making progress:

Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E) continues to make significant improvements to customer service with increased staffing levels. As a result, it has seen its percentage of estimated bills drop more than 63 percent from February 2022 to January 2023. The Company attributes this to the meter read workforce
stabilizing, reading more meters, and reducing estimated bills, which will reduce billing
45 new customer service representatives will begin training soon. RG&E already hired more
than 120 customer service representatives, with over 100 more positions to be filled this
year resulting in reduced wait times for customers contacting the Company. In addition, the
Company’s backlog of bills requiring manual review has fallen more than 40 percent since
September across RG&E and New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG). With the addition of
40 billing specialists last year, the Companies were able to expedite billing reviews,
resulting in more timely bills.
“Improving the customer service experience is a top priority for our Company, “ said Trish
Nilsen, president and CEO of RG&E and NYSEG. “It’s a process that takes time, it takes
time to train new representatives in order for them to provide quality service, and we are
holding and accelerating this training now.”
The installation of Smart Meters will begin soon in the Rochester area, an initiative that will
reduce billing issues by significantly reducing estimates. The Company will continue to
improve the customer experience as it reaffirms its commitment to provide safe and reliable
energy to the community.
RG&E and NYSEG encourage people interested in starting a career to view opportunities
available now.

Public comment sessions will also be held in Binghamton on Wednesday.

More about billing issues with RG&E: