Imagine opening your mail and finding a $6,000 MLGW bill. It happened to one Shelby County man, and he’s not alone. Recent complaints about big MLGW bills have poured into the newsroom and you can also find them all over social media. However, the Local I-Team found a way little known way you can fight back while keeping your lights on.
“This was a crazy error,” said David Peel. Peel is an MLGW customer. He received a bill saying he owed $6,200, for a rental home he owns. The home has been vacant for over a year. Peel had prepaid $1,600 the month before, which meant, according to the utility company, in one month, he had used $7,800 in electricity, gas, and water.
Peel isn’t alone. MLGW said customer Jay Bailey owed $2,600 in part, for a vacant rental property.
“They told me there is nothing I could do,” said Bailey. Bailey, a former attorney, did research and discovered you can request a dispute hearing. Deep in MLGW’s customer service policy, there is a section that says every customer has a right to a dispute hearing.
“It’s in their policy, but they never tell you that, and the reason they don’t tell you that is, because if they did, they would get a barrage of hearing requests,” said Bailey.
On the back of your bill, there is a mention that you can dispute it. But it says nothing about the fact that you’re entitled to a hearing before a panel of MLGW employees. And while you’re going through the dispute process, they can’t turn off your utilities.
“Their policy and the law saws MLGW must prove their bill and charges are correct. The customer doesn’t have to prove that they’re incorrect,” said Bailey.
The Local I-Team’s Jeni Diprizio asked MLGW President Jerry Collins, “anybody can have a dispute hearing?” Collins replied “sure.”
Collins says, while there is a variety of reasons customers are ending up with big bills, “If the person is not satisfied from the first line of employees, they can ask for a hearing for their side of the story,” said Collins.
Easier said than done, according to Bailey. He says customers are often denied a hearing unless they quote the policy from the MLGW handbook and push for it. As for Peel, MLGW admitted his bill was wrong, and reversed the charges, without a hearing.
Bailey had his hearing. MLGW reduced his bill by $700.