As a Residential Customer of Massena Electric Dept.
As a Massena Electric Dept. customer, you have rights and responsibilities. This pamphlet summarizes them. After you read this pamphlet you should keep it for future reference.
These rights and responsibilities result from New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) rules and a state law- the Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA), which is called the "Consumer Bill of Rights."
QUESTIONS, PROBLEMS, APPEALS
Contact us as soon as possible if you have any complaints, questions or problems about your service. You are entitled to a prompt answer. At our Office, there are representatives to help you. The address and telephone number of our office appears on your bill, at the end of this pamphlet, and also in the telephone book. Our office receives numerous calls every day. If the lines are busy, please call again. Our office hours are listed at the end of this pamphlet.
Whether you write, visit, or phone, our Customer Account Representatives will do their best to handle your inquiry promptly and considerately. If, however, you are not satisfied by our representative's response, further help is available from a company supervisor who will review your case.
If you are still not satisfied, you can write to the Consumer Services Division, Consumer Assistance at Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, N.Y. 12223, or call the PSC toll free at 1-800-342-3377. The toll free number is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on business days. PSC consumer representatives will investigate your complaint and determine whether the utility has acted properly.
The PSC also has a special emergency HOTLINE for residential customers for matters concerning the turn-on or turn-off of electric service. The toll free HOTLINE number is 1-800-342-3355. It is staffed every business day from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
If you call either of the toll free numbers after their regular hours of operation you will be answered by a recording machine. A staff representative will call you back the following business day. If your call is answered by a recorder, be sure to give your area code with your phone number and your account number.
While your complaint is being considered by the Public Service Commission, we cannot turn off your service for your failure to pay the amount in question. All other amounts and bills are payable when due.
We have a responsibility to supply electricity to our customers in a reliable manner, and you have a responsibility to pay utility bills promptly. Here are some important points about billing:
When to pay -- Massena Electric Dept. bills you for electricity after you use it. Customers who use electricity are billed each month. Bills are due and payable when received. A payment is considered overdue 23 days after the bill is mailed to you (about 26 days after the bill date printed on the bill); if you pay after that you may also have to pay a late payment charge. If you have any questions about your bill, contact our office right away; the telephone number is (315) 764-0253.
Where to pay -- The most convenient way to pay is by mail. Paying by mail also helps us speed the processing of your payment. You can also pay in person at the office at 71 East Hatfield St., Massena, NY. Convenient night payment depositories are located at the Town Hall and our office entrances for after hours payments.
Balanced Billing -- If you want to spread your electricity charges evenly over a 12-month period, our Balanced Billing plan may help. This payment plan does not reduce overall energy expenses, but it may help you manage your budget. For more information about the plan, contact our office, and we will send you a statement showing you how your yearly energy charges would be broken down with Balanced Billing.
Billing Accuracy -- We do everything we can to bill your account accurately. Under certain circumstances we may issue you an estimated bill, if we cannot read your meter, or if it appears that the reading may be wrong. Seasonal and short term customers also may receive estimated bills. The procedure we use to calculate an estimated bill is approved by the Public Service Commission. All estimated bills clearly state that it is based on an estimate.
If, by using estimated bills, we have understated the amount you owe by 50% of the actual usage or $100 (whichever is greater), we must notify you of that fact in writing and you may make monthly payments on the difference.
You probably do not have to pay a deposit when you open an account; most customers do not. If we do require a deposit the amount is based on two times the average monthly bill. If you are an electric heating customer a deposit is based on two times the average monthly bill for the period November I to April 15. The Public Service Commission rules govern deposit policies as follows:
New Customers -- We do not charge a new customer a deposit. We may charge a seasonal or short-term customer (less than one year of service requested) a deposit.
Year-round Customers -- If you are a current customer, or a former customer applying for a new account within 60 days of closing a previous account, we will not ask you to pay a deposit unless:
1. You have accumulated two consecutive months, of overdue payments, AND have not paid one-half the amount due,
2. We have turned off your service for nonpayment within the last six months.
If you are over 62, we will not ask you for a deposit unless your service was turned off for nonpayment within the last six months.
Public Assistance -- If you receive public assistance, we cannot require you to pay a deposit.
Deposit Requested -- If we require you to post a deposit, we will give you 20 days' notice before the deposit becomes due. If you pay one-half of your bill, you will avoid a deposit.
If a deposit is required, you may pay it in 12 monthly payments.
FINAL TERMINATION NOTICE, SERVICE TURN-OFF & TURN-ON PROCEDURES, SPECIAL PROTECTIONS
If you fail to pay overdue bills, we may turn off your service only after we have given the required notice and offered you a deferred payment arrangement for your overdue bills.
Final Termination Notice -- Before we can turn off service for an overdue bill or deposit, we must send you a Final Termination Notice. We do not send a Final Termination Notice until you have failed to pay a bill more than 23 days after it was mailed to you. Once you receive a Final Termination Notice you have 15 more days in which to pay the bill, arrange for payment, or contact us about it before service can be turned off. If you think we have made a mistake in your account, call us. We will check it and postpone turning off your service while we look into the matter.
We will offer you a deferred payment agreement at least seven days (ten days if mailed) before turn-off unless we contact the PSC and inform them that you do not have a financial problem. If you sign a deferred payment agreement, we cannot turn off service. The PSC staff will help you in making such an agreement. See below.
Your service will be turned off if:
1. You fail to pay the amount due as shown on the Final Termination Notice,
2. You do not work out a deferred payment agreement,
UNLESS you qualify for the special protections described in the section on "Hardship Procedures" in this pamphlet.
Time of Termination -- We are allowed to turn off utility service for nonpayment only between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays. We cannot turn off service on a holiday, the day before a holiday, the day before, or the day our business office is closed, or for a two-week period during the Christmas-New Year's season. We can turn off service any time there are serious safety problems and we will restore service as soon as the problem is corrected.
Massena Electric Dept. has a responsibility to provide its customers with safe, reliable and uninterrupted service. Since you may be entitled to certain protections from turn-offs, it is important for us to have the information requested below.
Please fill in the blanks and check the appropriate box(es). Then sign and date the form, and return it with your Massena Electric Dept. bill payment. Thank you for helping us serve you better.
Town/City: __________________ Zip Code _____________
Telephone Number: ________________________________
Account Number (as shown on bill
o I am 62 years of age or older
o I live in an apartment building or a two-family home, but ldo not have my own Massena Electric Dept. account.
o Public Assistance
o Supplemental Security Income
o Other: ___________________________
(Kind of Assistance)
My identification number is: __________________________________________
I have the following hardship condition(s):
o Medical Hardship ______________________________
o Life-sustaining Equipment _______________________
o Other Disability ________________________________
Signature __________________________ Date ____________
Landlord Problems-- If you live in an apartment building or a two-family house AND your landlord fails to pay the electric bills for the building, you may be able to have the service kept on by joining with the other tenants to pay the bill. You only have to pay current charges and can deduct the utility payment from your rent. We will notify you by posting notices on the building and give you a separate notice at least 15 days before termination if the landlord has failed to pay. We also will tell you whom to call to work out the problem.
Reconnection of Service -- If we turn off your service, we will reconnect it within 24 hours:
1. Once you have either paid the amount due, or signed a deferred payment agreement and made the down payment
2. When the PSC directs us to reconnect service;
3. When you face a serious threat to health or safety.
If we fail to reconnect your service within 24 hours - except for circumstances beyond our control - we must pay you $25 or $50 for each additional day you are without service.
If you receive public assistance, we will turn your service back on as soon as we receive a commitment of payment from the social service agency helping you.
We have the right to charge a fee of $10.00 to turn service back on during normal work hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday); or $35.00 outside these hours and days.
Deferred Payment Agreement- If you have a financial problem that prevents you from paying your bills, we will work with you to establish a deferred payment agreement. The agreement must be fair and take account of your financial circumstances. We may ask you to make a down payment of 15 percent of the amount you owe, or one-half your average monthly bill (whichever is greater). If you have a financial need you may not have to pay a down payment and your monthly payments may be as low as $10 per month. The agreement can be changed if you can show us that there are significant changes in your financial condition beyond your control.
The PSC will help you in reaching an agreement with us. You may reach one of its representatives at 1-800-342-3377.
Hardship Procedures -- In accordance with Public Service Commission rules, we will continue electric heat-related service if a person's health or safety is threatened by the lack of heat. We also will refer health or safety problems to the Department of Social Services. In the following hardship cases, we will NOT turn off services:
Medical Hardship-- If you or a family member is ill, has a medical condition or uses a life support device, we can help you. If you file a medical certificate with us from your doctor or local board of health, we will continue your service for 30 days. We will tell you how the certificate can be renewed. Briefly, to renew the certificate your doctor or board of health must explain the medical emergency or why service is needed AND you must explain why you are unable to pay your utility bills. We will not shut off your service during the emergency, but you are still responsible for your bills.
IMPORTANT: If you need utility service to operate a life-supporting device, the certificate will remain in effect as long as the device is needed, but you must tell us every three months that you are unable to pay. We will also code your account to assure your added protection from turn-offs.
Elderly (62 or older), Blind or Disabled -- If you are 62 years of age or older, blind or disabled, and all those living with you are too, (or not over 18 years old), we will make special attempts to maintain your utility service. We will contact you by phone or in person at least 72 hours before turn-off is scheduled to try to work out a fair payment plan.
If arrangements cannot be made, we will notify the Department of Social Services of the possible turn-off and will continue service for 15 days. If we ultimately turn-off service, we must, within 10 days after that, attempt to reach you and devise a plan for restoring service. If you qualify for protection under this section you should immediately notify us by using the attached card.
Cold Weather Protection -- November 1 to the following April 15.
A. If you pay the utility directly for your heat. If you are a direct heating customer, we cannot turn-off your service until we have tried to determine if a serious problem with health or safety would result because of the service turn-off. We will try to contact you by telephone or in person-at least 72 hours before service turn-off is scheduled. We will try to contact you during business hours, and again at the time of turn-off. If we find that service turn-off might cause serious harm to your health or safety, we must ask the Department of Social Service to investigate AND we must continue service for at least 15 business days.
IMPORTANT: For the cold weather protections, we consider "heating" to include utility services we consider needed to provide heat.
B. If you pay for your heat in your rent. -- If you pay for your utility services in your rent, we cannot turn off heat-related electric service to your dwelling without giving a written 10-day notice to each tenant to determine whether any tenant has a medical or other problem which would be worsened by a heat turn-off. If we find a tenant with such a problem, we must refer him or her to the Department of Social Services and continue to provide utility service until the hardship is removed.
THIRD PARTY NOTIFICATION
All residential customers are permitted to choose a third party to receive all notifications relating to termination of electric service. Just fill out and return the form at the end of this pamphlet. A third party notice may keep your service from being turned off by mistake.
You may choose a relative, a friend, a member of the clergy, or an agency (such as the Department of Social Services) to be a "third party" for you. A third party will receive copies of any Final Disconnect Notices we send to you because of overdue electric bills. The third party can contact us on your behalf and help you work out payment terms with us. But the third party is NOT responsible for paying your bills.
DIVERSION OF SERVICE
If you rent an apartment and pay your own utility bills, you pay only for the energy you use in your dwelling. We cannot charge you for electricity used elsewhere in the apartment building; nor can we turn off your service for failing to pay for service outside your apartment - unless you have agreed with your landlord to pay for such other service.
If you believe you are being wrongly charged for energy that others are using, call our office and we will investigate the matter.
ACCESS TO YOUR METER
We read your meter so that we can send you an accurate bill based on the amount of electricity you use. If we are unable to read a meter for four months in a row, we will send you a notice requesting that you either provide us with a reading or make an appointment for a special reading. You can phone your meter reading to us or you can mail it in on a meter reading card we will provide at your request. We can arrange to read a meter both during and after normal working hours. If you do not control access to your meter, please arrange with the building owner or manager to let our meter reader in.
If, after eight straight months, you haven't made an appointment or provided us with a meter reading, you or the individual who controls access to the meter may be subject to a charge of $25.
For your protection, our Meter Readers carry a photo identification card which you can inspect before they enter your home. If you have any doubts, please insist on seeing the identification card.