When reviewing the statement from a utility bill, you may be surprised if the total amount due is significantly more than normal. After taking a close look at the charges, you have the right to dispute the total if you feel it is incorrect. Utility companies do make billing errors, so it’s important to bring the mistake to their attention to avoid being overcharged. Be prepared to explain why you believe you were overcharged and provide any applicable information to support your claim.
Review your statement from previous months to try to locate the source of the increased charges. Note if you were out of town during one of the months or if any incidents occurred that could have caused the change. For example, if your gas bill is much higher than it was last month, this could be due to turning the heat on more during the past few weeks due to weather changes.
Contact the utility company. You can typically do this by phone, email or postal mail. State the amount of the charge you’re disputing, the reason you’re disputing the charge and what action you would like the utility company to take. For example, if you’ve received an exceptionally high electric bill based on an estimate, not an actual reading, you may want to ask the company to send someone out to read your meter.
Reach out to a local consumer advocate, such as your state’s public utilities commission. The advocate will conduct an informal investigation of the situation, contacting the utility company on your behalf.
Contact a national organization such as the National Association of Consumer Advocates or Consumer Watchdog. You can also contact the FCC for telecommunications disputes. Explain your situation and file an informal complaint. The organization may attempt to mediate the dispute between you and the utility company.
File a formal complaint against the utility company with your state's public utilities commission if you’re still not satisfied with your utility company's response. This may require the involvement of the courts, so you might need to hire a lawyer to represent you.
Keep detailed records of all your interactions with the utility company, as you may need to reference these later if the dispute escalates.
- Keep detailed records of all your interactions with the utility company, as you may need to reference these later if the dispute escalates.
Laura Woods is a Los Angeles-based writer with more than six years of marketing experience. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Robert Morris University.