Chilled by gas bills

The winter spikes may not be as bad as last year, but natural gas users in North Texas are finding yet another nasty surprise with their gas bills this month. Full Story
Deborah Hitt

Palo Alto, CA

#1 Jan 12, 2006
Someone needs to take a look at Atmos Energy. I think they are in the price gouging business. No way my bill should be $111.00 with no more cold days (below 35 degrees) than we have had. We keep our thermostat set at 65. Yes I've called to complain. What good does it do, they always have an answer for all the questions, and they suit them. The first girl I talked to didn't even know how to read my bill,told me that 12.61 was my consumption when in fact it was the rate. Governor Perry needs to take a look at Atmos.
Meri-Lou Mahoney

Dallas, TX

#2 Jan 19, 2006
My Atmos bill was $280.00 for a two month billing cycle and when I look at my last bill for the same number of days, this bill is triple. I'm not sure how people on a fixed income can handle such outragious prices. I can't imagine what our bills would look like if we truly had a winter season.
mikey

United States

#3 Jan 19, 2006
There's no doubt that these increases are difficult. If you are using natural gas for heat I would suggest that you might want to consider electric space heaters in the main living area(Two of them work well together..but do-not leave them plugged in when you go to bed for the night). At night you can let the furnace heat these areas at a lower level since you're not there. You can adjust your heat registers so that your bedroom gets heat at night from the furnace or you can also have an electric heater in your bedroom when sleeping (the oil filled radiant heaters are the safest when around or near bedding, although no heat source should be purposely placed near any flamable material at any time.). For those on lower income there are programs to limit the cost of electricity if you qualify. Even if you don't, it may be cheaper to use the electric heaters since they give you local control. If you don't understand the energy consumption costs and ratings you can ask your power company. It is quite simple to do once you understand the billing info though. Just look at the cost per Kilowatt hour.
As an example: if your electricity cost is 10 cents per kilowatt hour that means that you can run a 1500watt heater(some allow you to select half..750W or 1500W)for 15 cents per hour. This may save you several hundred dollars through the heating season; enough to pay for the heaters and some savings too. Hope this is helpful to you.
mikey

United States

#4 Jan 19, 2006
......A brief addition to my previous post.....

It may, or may not, be obvious that the 15 cent per hour cost in my example is based upon continuous use for the one hour period.
This would not usually be the case though, as the heaters will cycle on and off based upon the thermostat setting and so this low cost would actually be spread over several hours of use.
Emmett Webb

San Francisco, CA

#5 Jan 20, 2006
Mikey, your full of crap !!! Sounds to me like you work for the damn company to begin with and your supporting this activity. For one thing the cheapest heater that uses oil and gas product is several hundred dollars....why the hell would I buy one of those if my house has a central heating unit ! Another thing, we all got screwed by the damn gas company....there is no other way around it. They saw an opportunity and they basically gave it to us with our arms tied up....that's it! There is no other explanation....they gouge the hell out of us in November and December...hmmm that's the winter season....oh and aren't they so thoughtful by lowering our rates in FEBRUARY !!! That the last of the cold spell for us in the Southeast for all of you idiots that work at the Gas Company that don't already know that. Our gas product consumption in February will likely decrease by 75%....so should I say thank you for not screwing me as badly as I got it in December......no..not even close buddy!
mikey

United States

#6 Jan 20, 2006
Boy Emmett, such misdirected anger. First of all I do not or ever have worked for any energy or related company and I am being affected by the high prices just like everyone else. Secondly, electric heaters of the type I'm talking about are about 30 to 40 dollars apiece at Walmart, Home Depot and the like. Lastly my suggestion was meant to help someone who would appreciate it.
Emmett Webb wrote:
Mikey, your full of crap !!! Sounds to me like you work for the damn company to begin with and your supporting this activity. For one thing the cheapest heater that uses oil and gas product is several hundred dollars....why the hell would I buy one of those if my house has a central heating unit ! Another thing, we all got screwed by the damn gas company....there is no other way around it. They saw an opportunity and they basically gave it to us with our arms tied up....that's it! There is no other explanation....they gouge the hell out of us in November and December...hmmm that's the winter season....oh and aren't they so thoughtful by lowering our rates in FEBRUARY !!! That the last of the cold spell for us in the Southeast for all of you idiots that work at the Gas Company that don't already know that. Our gas product consumption in February will likely decrease by 75%....so should I say thank you for not screwing me as badly as I got it in December......no..not even close buddy!
Emmett Webb

San Francisco, CA

#7 Jan 20, 2006
Ok Mikey, here you go: Directly from Atmos Energy Web Page...

Earnings Release
Atmos Energy Corporation Reports Impressive Results for Fiscal 2005;
Atmos Energy Corporation today reported consolidated results for its fiscal year and fourth quarter

My Anger is directed at anyone who is likely to defend this type of behavior....so, if your not an employee then you've got to be a shareholder....either case is completly irrelevant....however; you could be in the space heating industry....hmmm there's a thought....get my bill lower and I'll add you to my Christmas Card List :)
mikey

United States

#8 Jan 20, 2006
Emmett, you're a hard case. Re-read my post and think about it; your call.
Emmett Webb wrote:
Ok Mikey, here you go: Directly from Atmos Energy Web Page...

Earnings Release
Atmos Energy Corporation Reports Impressive Results for Fiscal 2005;
Atmos Energy Corporation today reported consolidated results for its fiscal year and fourth quarter

My Anger is directed at anyone who is likely to defend this type of behavior....so, if your not an employee then you've got to be a shareholder....either case is completly irrelevant....however; you could be in the space heating industry....hmmm there's a thought....get my bill lower and I'll add you to my Christmas Card List :)
Scott

Spotsylvania, VA

#9 Jan 22, 2006
You need to remember that Atmos Energy DOES NOT KEEP THE MAJORITY OF THE MONEY YOU PAY. My bill was $191 for, but only $22 of that goes to Atmos. That's only 11%! How can that be price gouging?

%80 of the bill was for the cost of the gas. That money goes directly to the gas suppliers. The rest is for taxes.

The only money Atmos keeps is the Customer Charge and the Consumption charge, ant THAT is regulated by the state goverment.
Payton Britt

Tyler, TX

#11 Mar 9, 2006
Well, is their service fees regualted.. I highly doubt it, and if they are, they need to be relooked at.
They make up for it if ya get disconnected.
I made the error and forgot to pay my $147 bill. It cost me in excess of $500 to have my service restored the FOLLOWING day. I called in at 8am and service would be resotred the following day between 8 and 5. I was forced to take off work to insure someone was home because they wouldn't commit to a scheduled time between 3 and 5pm.... had I not taken the time off, it was very possible that I would go the weekend w/o service.. totally unacceptable customer service...but since ATMOS is my only option for gas service here.. we get screwed.
Would of never happened if I got my bill paid on time, but you think it fair to be such a high penalty to get reconnected and then n ot even go the extra step to insure service turnon?
Brenda

Corbin, KY

#12 Mar 18, 2007
I feel your pain. I googled Atmos, and almost every single state that they do business in has a lawsuit against them. If they were engaging in ethical and appropriate business practices, then why so many state's attorney generals have so much to comaplain and sue about??????????
Payton Britt wrote:
Well, is their service fees regualted.. I highly doubt it, and if they are, they need to be relooked at.
They make up for it if ya get disconnected.
I made the error and forgot to pay my $147 bill. It cost me in excess of $500 to have my service restored the FOLLOWING day. I called in at 8am and service would be resotred the following day between 8 and 5. I was forced to take off work to insure someone was home because they wouldn't commit to a scheduled time between 3 and 5pm.... had I not taken the time off, it was very possible that I would go the weekend w/o service.. totally unacceptable customer service...but since ATMOS is my only option for gas service here.. we get screwed.
Would of never happened if I got my bill paid on time, but you think it fair to be such a high penalty to get reconnected and then n ot even go the extra step to insure service turnon?
LOL

United States

#14 Mar 18, 2007
Along with last month's huge gas bill, I received a letter from the gas company explaining "the reason your gas bill is higher than normal, is because of the extreme cold weather we experienced." LMAO!!! I wonder if it eased their conscience by sending out this moronic letter explaining their "reasons" for gouging us.
Andrew

Houston, TX

#15 Apr 12, 2007
Here's another one for the books. Not sure if anyone else had had this problem, but here it goes. Back in 2005 I used to pay my bill through the web, just like I pay most of my bills. I would receive payment confirmation emails and would print the page from the website. Then, after several months I receive a letter saying that I had had 3 returned checks and that I would have to continue paying by going to a "payment center" (a gas station) for 1 full year. Despite numerous conversations with supervisors and 'managers' I still had to suck it up, even though it was obviously a system problem and not that I neglected to pay my bills. Atmos' representatives said they couldn't change the system. I remind you I payed over the web and not with checks!
A year passed and I paid my bills always on-time and in full. I attempt to pay through the web and the system says I'm not allowed to make payments over the web. So, I called, spoke to a supervisor, explained the situation and got it fixed by the next day.
I've made three payments over the web. Now, on the third one it says that it was returned unpaid (NRFT..whatever the acronym stands for). But, in actuality, I received an email notice for "Past due" payment. So, I call Atmos to clarify the situation. They read back the bank account number I used to make my payment and it's totally incorrect! I've now made my 'past due'payment that I initially paid on-time. But got jacked $20 dollars fee for the return payment on wrong account number. How can this be?!!!! Of course, they stand to make more money with fees of this nature.
It's absurd to deal with problems like these, ONLY WITH ATMOS. I have never, not a single time, had this happen with my credit card companies, insurance, other utilities, phone, satellite, etc.
There should definitely be a probe/investigation into Atmos Energy's billing/payment practices. I'm sure someone will find they're making so much unexpected revenue from forcing people to pay penalty fees one way or the other. I wonder what the revenue is solely from penalty fees. Someone has to take a crack at this company and hopefully be able to bring some type of lawsuit to put an end to their abuse!
Rose Louisiana

Gretna, LA

#16 Apr 29, 2007
Atmos Energy needs to be looked at carefully. Price gouging, misinformation,withholding customer service information regarding penalties with disconnect etc. Unbelieveable what they are getting away with. What company, utility at that, exercises the right to rebill and increase deposits? While the customer is required to pay the whole bill and increased deposit in order to be reconnected, but they can return your deposit to you in increments that is understood only by them on the bill. The bill is confusing regarding your deposit status and return, which I think is deceitful to the customer. So read your bill carefully no matter what the amt. is, because if ever your services are disconnected you may be in for a shocker. 16.26 can amount to 4-500.00, and if customer service is questioned on this process they will make you seem as though you have poor understanding when you know that something is totally wrong with this process. Last month I paid with a credit card, was doubled charged had to WAIT 10 days for my MONEY to be credited back to MY account due to an error performed by one of their Champion Breed Bill Collectors. When questioned about my funds being credited they totally denied fault, my credit card company figured it out, but atmos energy emphatically denied error, so check your statements for use and comparison to previous months and yr,If in doubt request physical readings, and check your checking acct, cc, or method of payment statement for overcharge.Something has to be done with this company immediately.
stacey

United States

#17 Feb 3, 2009
I live in a two bed room home 900 sq and my gas in 500 dollars. My house is always cold! I do not understand it i have kids and it will be turned off soon .
Deborah Hitt wrote:
Someone needs to take a look at Atmos Energy. I think they are in the price gouging business. No way my bill should be $111.00 with no more cold days (below 35 degrees) than we have had. We keep our thermostat set at 65. Yes I've called to complain. What good does it do, they always have an answer for all the questions, and they suit them. The first girl I talked to didn't even know how to read my bill,told me that 12.61 was my consumption when in fact it was the rate. Governor Perry needs to take a look at Atmos.
A Perspective

Oscoda, MI

#18 Feb 8, 2009
EVERY gas company is in the price-gouging business. You ought to see our heating bills here in Michigan, where it's cold all the time. When they get done with the winter season, they start on the gasoline prices at the pump. I certainly hope our new President looks into the outrageous fees and price hikes of these companies. How the elderly on a fixed income survive, I will never know. They must be starving and freezing to death. To work their whole life, to see our country like this. Please President Obama, force these companies to have a price freeze. People are suffering from no jobs and no homes! This inhumane treatment from these gas and oil companies must end! They are holding the entire public hostage. It's utilities terrorism!

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