• Lynda Cohen

Atlantic City Electric sees spike in billing complaints



Some local Atlantic City Electric customers are seeing a huge spike in their bills, and it’s not because prices have gone up. Instead, customers say their meter readings have been off sometimes as much as 1,000-plus kilowatt-hours, or about $166. “We can confirm we have recently seen an increased volume of customer calls related to the accuracy of meter readings,” said Frank Tedesco, the company’s spokesman. “We are working with the third-party vendor, who provides meter reading services for multiple companies in New Jersey, to identify the issue and address it promptly and fully.” Meanwhile, customers are starting to compare bills through social media. “Check your AC electric bills!” Tina Carfagno warned in a private Egg Harbor Township group on Facebook.

Tina Carfagno's meter reading was 958 kilowatt-hours higher than what she found herself.

Carfagno normally pays about $5 a month during the winter for electricity thanks to solar panels, she told BreakingAC. Then on Saturday, she received a bill for $186. Carfagno immediately checked her meter, which read 13031, just 24 kilowatt hours more than her previous reading, which is about $10, based upon the costs Atlantic City Electric provides on a sample bill. Her bill, however, had the number at 13989, a more than $159 difference. “It’s getting out of hand, and it’s not just me,” said Fran Mack, who lives in a small apartment in Northfield. “Everybody’s getting these ridiculous bills.”

The first bill that got her attention was for $238. When she complained, she received an adjusted bill five weeks later that was $38. The next time took three weeks to take the bill from more than $240 to about $58, she said. “October was the first bill we received that was way out of line,” Egg Harbor Township resident Barry Murphy said. “September and November were about $200 cheaper, we haven’t been reimbursed for that yet. We did get our money back from January and this month’s.” The difference there went from $270 to $85. While Atlantic City Electric cannot confirm specific customers’ bills, Tedesco did say customers who suspect an inaccuracy with their meter reading can send a photo the meter to kiosk@pepcoholdings.com.

If there is an inaccuracy, it will be corrected and the customer will either get a new bill or their account will be adjusted after the next scheduled reading. Tedesco also warned against scammers who could be using the issue to their own benefit. While gathering information for this story, a reporter received a recorded call claiming to be from Atlantic City Electric and offering a rebate for the overage by pressing 1. Instead it redirected to a call center, where the salesperson asked if the customer had a copy of their bill and claimed to work for Green Energy. A manager then said that the company was Green Mountain Energy and gave a corporate number that was fake. When asked where they were based, he said, “You can Google it.” “We do not do telemarketing in New Jersey,” a Green Mountain Energy spokesman told BreakingAC. “It’s not us.” He said if anyone does receive such a call, they can report it to them at 844-245-9582 or call Consumer Affairs at 800-242-5846. “Atlantic City Electric will never provide rebates over the phone,” Tedesco said. Meanwhile, customers are concerned not only with their own bills, but that others may not notice the mistake and keep overpaying. “If my mother was alive, she would have paid the bill and not even looked,” Mack said. “I don’t want credit, I want my bill read properly.”

ATLANTIC CITY ELECTRIC OFFERS THE FOLLOWING TO AVOID SCAMS

Red flags for scam activity

• The scammer often becomes angry and tells a customer his or her account is past due and service will be shut off if a large payment isn’t made – usually within less than an hour.

• The scammer instructs the customer to purchase a prepaid debit or credit card – widely available at most retail stores – then call him or her back to make a payment.

• The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the funds loaded to the card.

How to protect yourself

• Atlantic City Electric representatives will never ask or require a customer with a past due balance to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.

• Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank withdrawal, mail, or in person.

• Customers with a past due balance will receive multiple shut off notifications – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.

• If a customer ever questions the legitimacy of the call, hang up and call Atlantic City Electric at 800-642-3780.

Precautions

• Never provide your social security number or personal information to anyone initiating contact with you claiming to be a company representative or requesting you to send money to another person or entity other than Atlantic City Electric.

• Always ask to see a company photo ID before allowing any Atlantic City Electric worker into your home or business.

• Never make a payment for services to anyone coming to your door.

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