I didn't go out looking to take issue with FirstEnergy's billing scam. In fact, I tried to ignore it, or find someone else who wanted to lead the charge, for nearly a year before I just gave up and added it to an already rather full plate of power company shenanigans. I don't call or email people asking them to take issue with what FirstEnergy does to its customers. But when people contact me about how FirstEnergy has hurt them, I will listen and try to help them to the best of my ability. FirstEnergy ought to try it... an honest effort to help people.
So, tonight a friend messages me to tell me he got a "billing tutorial" in his electric bill. This isn't a surprise. I've been waiting for it ever since we announced community meetings with an electric billing tutorial presentation. I knew that would drive my FirstEnergy friends crazy. Kind of like locking them in a round room and telling them there's a penny in the corner. But, really, I expected them to cobble something together before the PSC public comment hearings. Don't you think FirstEnergy's billing tutorial should have been an appropriate part of the company's presentation at the hearings? Customers might have found it useful, at least more useful than that sorry litany of excuses they got instead.
Because I expected FirstEnergy to be a little copy cat, I purposefully did not put our tutorial online until after the public comment hearings. No matter, FirstEnergy managed to download it as soon as it was available and combine it with other advice we had for their customers to pretend it was all their idea. What a bunch of posers!
So, how did FirstEnergy do with their tutorial? Do you know what your electric rate is and how it is calculated to arrive at the amount you must pay? No, it's just more confusing crap that does nothing to create customer understanding.
From Meters to the Mailroom
A lot of effort goes into creating your monthly bill, and our goal is to make it as accurate and easy to understand as possible. From meter reading to the mailroom, everything needs to operate effectively to deliver your bill.
The process begins with our meter readers who attempt to read your meter every other month. On the months that your meter is not read, your bill is estimated, which typically is based on daily usage from the same period during the prior year. Any difference between your estimated usage and actual usage is automatically adjusted the next time your meter is read.
After the reading is obtained, it is entered into our computer system, which compares your reading with previous readings. If it is outside of the expected usage, the reading is flagged for closer examination by our Customer Accounting associates. Inaccurate estimated readings either are adjusted, or we obtain another reading. Finally, the bill is calculated and sent to you.
We provide electricity to millions of customers and strive to deliver accurate bills every month. However, if you feel you’ve received a bill that is not accurate, you can read your meter and compare that reading with the one on your bill. For more information, visit www.firstenergycorp.com/aboutyourbill, or call our customer contact center – Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
But, if your bill is not accurate, you should do what I've been advising you to do with every estimated bill you've received for the last several months -- go read your own meter and compare it to the amount billed. FirstEnergy's tutorial stops here. What are people supposed to do after they read their meter and compare it to their inaccurate bill, FirstEnergy? Just go ahead and pay it? The rest of my advice tells the customer to call FirstEnergy and ask for an accurate re-billing when they discover a discrepancy.
FirstEnergy's meter reading tutorial is even worse. Not only is it bogged down with unneeded, tedious detail, it provides senseless instruction that a meter must be read from right to left. Why? Won't the numbers be the same if read from left to right? It's not like a math problem where numbers are carried over from one dial to the next. It's a number. Instead of encouraging customers to read their meters, FirstEnergy's explanation only confuses them further.
Some days it's harder than normal to resist the urge to post completely bogus information on my blog just to see it blow up in FirstEnergy's face when they attempt to use it. Instead, I amuse myself thinking about a gigantic corporation making decisions based on my blog. Idiots.