Natural Gas Consumer Protection And Rights
Under House Bill 1568, the PSC (Public Service Commission) put in place certain rules to protect consumer rights. These defend customers against any issues that may arise when doing business with natural gas companies.
House Bill 1568 states that Georgia's natural gas customers are entitled to:
1. Good-value, dependable and safe natural gas services. This must include quality customer service.
2. Accurate, easy-to-understand information about their current plan. Must be able to compare prices and terms of service easily.
3. The use of new technologies, services and competitive prices. Customers must receive good value for money.
4. Equal treatment in matters related to deposits, credit and disconnection and service denial. All customers must be treated equally and fairly.
5. The presentation of accurate, non-fraudulent information which will help you evaluate your service. Your service will switch to another marketer only when you say so.
6. Receive accurate and timely natural gas bills each month.
7. Have your privacy protected. Any information you provide to the company must only be used for reasons stated in the contract.
8. Not be affected by price increases that aren't caused by the customer.
9. Any disagreements sorted fairly by the company or an unbiased external party.
In addition to these basic consumer rights, the PSC must enforce these other rules relating to the natural gas service.
When Can Companies Disconnect Natural Gas Services?
Residential natural gas services can be disconnected only when:
1. A bill is not paid from 45 days after bill date.
2. The natural gas service is a danger to the customer.
3. The consumer requests it.
4. By order of the Georgia PSC or any authorized external agency.
Disconnection Notice Requirements
If the service is to be disconnected, then the company must:
1. Give written notice of the disconnection 15 days before the disconnection date. This consists of the date of suggested disconnection, reason for disconnection and a contact number.
2. Make an effort to make personal contact with the customer at least 2 days before disconnection. This contact may be a phone call, mail or hand delivery.
3. Make sure the proposed disconnection date is a working day when the company is able to receive payment from the customer.
4. Make sure that the late bill doesn't contain any extra charges besides those listed in the disconnection notice.
5. Ensure that the late bill isn't for use of more than 2 months service which was approximated. Natural gas cannot be switched off for nonpayment of an approximated bill.
Providers are restricted from terminating services between November 15th and March 15th if:
1. Temperatures are expected to be less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit for 48 hours starting on the day of disconnection.
2. The customer agrees to pay the due bill beginning with the first payment period after March 15th. Agreement must be in writing.
Providers also cannot terminate their services if the customer has an illness that would be worsened by termination. If you believe that you have been terminated by mistake, contact your provider as quickly as possible.
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