Eversource Gas says I have a leak. Do I have to pay this service bill?

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By Christopher Elliott

Jackie Owens’ home has a gas leak, according to Eversource Gas, her energy company. But that’s wrong, and the error has cost her $222. Can she get her money back?

Question

I have a problem with Eversource Gas, our energy company in Western Massachusetts. An Eversource gas company technician came to our door recently, claiming someone passing by our home called them to say they smelled gas and he needed to check our furnaces. 

After his check, he said we had gas leaks from both of our furnaces and that he had to shut them down. I called a licensed heating contractor, which came the next day to check. There were no leaks.

A second Eversource technician came out and agreed that we had no leaks. I have filled out a complaint form and called the Eversource claims department several times since then. No one answers. There’s only an automated message that asks me to leave a message and that someone will call me back within two business days. It’s been more than five weeks. 

I want Eversource to refund the $222 I had to pay the licensed heating contractor. Can you help me? — Jackie Owens, Feeding Hills, Mass.

Answer

The Eversource Gas technician made a mistake when he said you had a gas leak. The company should cover your expenses promptly instead of stringing you along like this.

But in Eversource’s defense, it is always better to err on the side of caution. A natural gas leak can cause a disastrous fire or gas poisoning. You don’t want that to happen to you, so if there’s even a chance that it would, it’s better to say something.

But the Eversource technician who showed up at your home should have known how to spot a leak. Maybe he had just started his job. But if you incurred additional expenses as a result of the misdiagnosis, it’s on Eversource.

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You did the right thing by filling out the form. The phone call was less helpful. I think the “we’ll get back to you in two days” is funny. And not just because Eversource missed it by four months and 28 days, but because it speaks volumes about the company’s customer service values. Ironically, Eversource’s mission statement is to deliver “reliable energy and superior customer service.” Oh, well. (Here’s our guide to resolving your consumer problem.)

Filling out the Eversource form created a paper trail, which shows you tried to resolve this problem through normal customer service channels. (That’s the Elliott Method in action.) The phone call, not so much — unless you recorded it.

My advocacy team and I reached out to Eversource on your behalf. The company also put me on “hold” for several weeks. I contacted it again, and a few days later you received a check for $222.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in São Paulo.

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