Nicor Inc.

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Unfair Deposit... A Year Later
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ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS -- We moved from living in a heat-paid apartment for 7 years into our house in April 2006. Not having had much experience with Nicor's rates, but having heard horror stories about how high they were, we budgeted in $200/month for heat. The end of 2006 was fine-with our highest bill being $180. In January of 07, we were billed $320! I paid the $200 (or maybe squeezed out $225) and let the remainder carry over into the next month. The next month WAS lower, but still over $200. Again, I paid $200 and the following month we were paid in full, on time.

In the summer of 07, a couple months after my daughter was born, I spaced off a small summer bill of $25. I was shocked to get my next bill in the amount of $200+. I called Nicor was informed that since we had been "late" 3times in a calendar year, we were being charged a $190 deposit.

Now, here's my beef about this "deposit" in general:

1.As homeowners, we were less likely to up and move, sticking it to the company
2.They report late bills to the credit bureau, so consumers are ALREADY being penalized by paying late.
3.If the winter months end and the consumer still hasn't paid their bill, THEY GET SHUT OFF.
4. I did not realize until after the fact that NICOR "estimates" bills at least every other month. Lo and behold, in retrospect, the $320 bill was an "estimate" not based on MY previous usage, but the previous homeowners. MY highest bill (estimates included) has only been $220.

So not getting any sympathy from NICOR, and having no choice in the matter, I paid the deposit, and was told that if we paid on time for a year, I would get the deposit back + interest.

So I paid on time for a year, and on October 31 called to see when I would get my deposit back. The representative was pleasant, and said my last late fee was put on the account 10/24/07, so it should be any time. I asked if it showed as a credit on my next bill, or if I would get a check back. She said I would get a check.

The month of November came and went, no check or credit. I called again on 12/1, and a not very experienced representative fumbled around for quite some time; telling me I had to call and request a check (?), asking whether I wanted a check or a credit, saying she could "take care of" my request for a check, then finally saying "a check has already been sent out" but "unable" to tell me WHEN.

So I waited all week, and as of today, NO check from Nicor.

I'm just really hacked off that 1) they are allowed to penalize consumers in so many ways, 2) they are allowed to be so non-committal in returning deposits forced on consumers. I held up my end of the bargain, paying high "estimates" that were obviously incorrect, how can consumers make sure NICOR is holding up to theirs???? I want my $190 back! They can keep their interest, just give me back the money that was taken away from my family last year-with a newborn in the house.
     
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Labrynthfire on 03/17/2009:
If they are estimating your bill just read the meter and phone in the actual reading. They should accept it. It should also note on your bill whether it is an actual reading or estimate. You having a child has no bearing on the situation. Sympathy is not a business practice. Keep a log of everyone you talk to, the date and time and the basic conversation and the position of who you talked to. If the last person you talked to was a supervisor ( you should be able to name him) ask to speak to his boss. If they refuse I like to tell them they don't get paid enough to hear what I have to say and then they seem more than willing to transfer you! Calling and asking the same question to the same people will not get you any satisfaction.
DumdHead on 03/17/2009:
estimates are common practice were elertronic read meters are not avalible. If oyu do not like their service switch to another one.... good luck on that one. If you are really worked up about they have a fed back meter that you can install that measures how much you are sending back. AC flows both ways and you should be credited for the retur. Meters are supposed to determine this but most of them are off.
avancece on 07/09/2009:
I didn't SAY having a child had bearing on the situation. I was simply stating that with a newborn child, that $190 that I feel was unfairly charged-then held onto longer than promised, could have been put to better need.

We have no gas alternative. It's NICOR or nothing. There is some off-shoot of NICOR that promises a fixed rate every month, but since they love to estimate so much, I'm not trusting that. I also read that even if you use LESS than the "estimated" monthly payment amount, Oh well. you do NOT get a refund or credit. So if you set your thermostat lower in the winter, have a mild winter, or even take steps to improve your insulation, you are still committed to paying that fixed amount for one year. No thanks.
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Failed Start Up Service Because Consumers Instructions Were Not Followed!!
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Rating: 1/51
AURORA, ILLINOIS -- I expressed very specifically that I was to be called on my cell phone when the tech was on the way to the vacant house for the service start up. After all who in their right mind would wait at a vacant house for possibly 4 hours? I don't mind the 4 hour window for service I just mind a tech who does not follow instructions for a simple start up of service.

The start up was for a property inspection so a lot of time and effort went into getting a time soon enough to have all the utilities turned on so the property could be properly inspected.

***So what happened you say?

The tech showed up during the window of time, saw no one was home and left without making a call per the explicit instruction left to him!

To make matters worse because it is after Biz. hours on Friday we will have to wait till Monday to reschedule. Unfortunately I am dealing with a bank owned property so rescheduling an inspection will not be easy or timely! It may not be possible without risking losing the property...

I have never been more disenfranchised, inconvenienced and just plain let down!!

The tech couldn't even be reached by a representative I talked with during the event window. In this day and age with all the computers and available information at our finger tips, well, I find that both ridiculous and very very hard to believe!
     
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trmn8r on 06/22/2012:
This may be the "age of computers" but utility service and business hours are pretty much as they have always been. I would find it surprising if many company techs could reliably call a customer on a cell phone to meet them at the property in question.
onlooker on 06/23/2012:
IF you wanted the work to be done correctly and it was that important to you, you should have been there. You did not want to loose (lose) the property but you did not want to wait...and now you lose days.
Next time be there for services that you need, or have someone else wait and call you when the service person comes.
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Unfair policies to squeeze more money from consumers
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ELGIN, ILLINOIS -- I received a Nicor bill that re-calculated my payments for the last 9 months and billed me more. According to the unhelpful representative I spoke with a while ago, all those months I paid are just estimates. He told me Nicor cannot "baby sit" each customer and make a meter reading every month. I felt so helpless and frustrated that I am being billed and forced to pay a bigger bill based on their "(over)estimates". Is this even legal? Aren't they supposed to read the meter and bill us based on what our usage is and not bill through "estimates". I am so upset right now. Is there any other gas company that has ethical company practice than Nicor? Our neighbor also had the same problem. I guess this is being enforced on everybody. I don't know about everybody else, but I operate on a budget. I cannot be happy receiving a big bill just because Nicor decided that I need to pay more because they estimated that I might be using more freaking gas!!!
     
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Skye on 11/28/2011:
This is so odd. I've never heard of being charged on just an estimate. And that comment about babysitting customers is just plain outrageous!

Our meter reader comes out every month, and that's how we are billed, for exactly what we use.

I would contact your state attorneys office of consumer affairs, and file a complaint with them. The whole story they gave you sounds shady.

http://illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/
Slimjim on 11/28/2011:
Their response sounds absurd. Of course you are supposed to read the meters and bill properly for usage IMO. Why can't they again? How is that babysitting?
Churro on 11/28/2011:
Estimated gas meter readings happen more often than people realize. It should be noted somewhere on your bill as EST or asterisk or some other notation. Usually the estimates are accurate enough the customer never notices. I learned about it when I had a house set empty for a couple of months and eventually received a bill for negative usage showing they owed me for a month. That was a head scratcher.
madconsumer on 11/28/2011:
this is the same as with 'set billing'. once per year, the meter is read, and the payment for the next 11 months are estimated. the once per year adjustment is to correct their estimated billing, either up or down.
Nohandle on 11/28/2011:
My home is total electric so I'm basing this on what I've been told. Some areas, especially rural, are estimated on prior usage since its not feasible to physically read the meters monthly. Some customers, I'm told, would rather pay a higher estimate monthly rather than be socked with a whopper of a bill six months later. An entirely different matter with renters. I think they have to get a loan just to make a deposit in the event they decide to skip town after being behind a number of months.
trmn8r on 11/28/2011:
madconsumer provided good advice above, and it sounds like what the OP has - a yearly reading and estimated the rest of the time.

If the OP wants to know what is required, in my opinion they should call Nicor and ask. I'm pretty sure the CSR's will know. I think it is precisely the case that the monthly bill is adjusted up or down once a year based on past actual use and how far off the old estimate was. The gas company doesn't just send out any old bill to take in more money. That would be nice for them but it doesn't work that way.

My electric company reads every other month now, and they just sent a request that gives me the option of reading it myself and entering it online.

Smart meters would be great, that transmit the reading.
trmn8r on 11/28/2011:
Regarding this practice - estimating for 11/12 months can lead to large jumps up or down when the new estimate is done, so it isn't surprising that the OP was shocked. She/he can go through the last year's bills and the new actual reading and figure out what happened.
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Nicor Unfair Deposit policies & ugly/rude customer service
Posted by on
LOMBARD, ILLINOIS -- I lived in many cities within the US and never was faced with such ugly and rude service as Nicor's. They forced their unfair policies on customers as they monopolize the marketplace.

We moved within the Lombard area and were sent erroneous billing. When we disputed the bill and refused to pay it they billed us for $180 deposit. We continued to pay current bills but they applied to the deposit amount. Late fees and other charges also were applied.

When we called them we were faced with such ugly and rude customer service staff. They refused to adjust the bill and we are forced to pay the deposit and several charges.

They need total customer service adjustment. We need to create fair competition in the marketplace.

Let's take action.
     
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Sparticus on 03/18/2006:
I always feel like Nicor is scamming me. How can you really be sure the bill is right? How do we know those meters really work or there isn't a small leak in the line somewhere? AND their prices have shot up almost 70% over last year or two. Ughh.
Phee on 05/26/2006:
You Got That Right!!! I was talking to a rep about a bill and she told me she could not talk to me cause she had a headache, she then put me on hold. I have set up appointments for service (got a new dryer but delivery men were not certified to hook it up), Nicor either does not show or shows up too early. I had an appointment for the hours of 12 noon till 5 p.m. and the service man shows up at 11 a.m. then states that I was not at home (well I was not at home since the appointment was for the hours of noon till 5!) I have been spoken to rudely by CS staff on several occasions. THEY ARE THE WORST!!!
tictac on 09/14/2006:
I live in a rented townhome and I just found out that the previous tennant did not shut off service. On Friday I found out that the service to my unit had been disconnected and that all that I needed to do was fax a copy of my lease and a photo ID. The fax was sent to your office and received by Nicor at 4:16pm and I still have not heard a thing. I have been without gas to cook meals, shower etc for a week now and I cannot seem to get this situation rectified. Yesterday, we called again for the 9th time and still I am being told that they do not know if they received my fax for service so I needed to resend it AGAIN! When I called on Monday I spoke with Norma who advised me that the previous tennant did not shut off service and there is an outstanding bill so service would not be reconnected until that bill was paid. That is not my issue. I am the one who is suffering! I was also informed that I had a previous bill from a very old apartment, so I paid that on Monday, I have the confirmation number. Yesterday when Nicor was contacted we were informed that we are being charged for another unit in this building. I do not live in that unit, nor have ever received a bill for service. Today I had to take the day off of work to try to rectify this situation because I will have to call all day. I have called now 9 times, faxed my lease two times, been hung up on 5 times and called back hoping for resolution. I do not understand why I am being held responsible for the previous tennants mistake and Nicor's billing issue. I talked with one of my neighbors and was advised that they too were subjected to the same thing when they moved in. They were also getting billed for a different unit in the building and had to fight with Nicor for months. I am sure that Nicor does a lot of townhome and apartment's for service, so I do not understand why this issue cannot be resolved. This is not my issue. I need service on immediately and I do not understand how hard it is to look at a fax and return a phone call or to be transferred to a supervisor when asked.

I would like someone to find my fax, contact me immediately and turn on my service as this is not my issue!
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