Unfair Deposit... A Year Later
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.