ROCHESTER, N.Y. — It wasn’t just residential customers who were hit by RG&E’s huge unexpected bill, some commercial customers were also hit. News10NBC has been reporting NSW inquiry into RG&E billing and customer service issues After a months-long News10NBC investigation into the issues.
Donald Swartz owns Veneto woodfire pizza and pasta on East Street in downtown Rochester. Dealing with RG&E has been a nightmare for the past few years, he said. “We’re lucky if we get a bill every two months, and we have to call and ask, basically beg,” he said. “And keep in mind that it’s not 10 minutes on the phone with RG&E, it could be an average of 90 minutes waiting for the operator to connect to the right department or someone who can try to help,” told News10NBC.
RG&E wouldn’t allow Swartz to dial in his meter readings because it was a business account, and he often said RG&E wouldn’t show up when one was scheduled. Because of his persistence, Swartz has gotten some actual meter readings since the pandemic, which is why he was shocked when his latest bill arrived this week, “My bill this month is $20,829.25 and I have to Get up off the floor and take a breath first,” he recalls.
The normal bill for the building where Veneto’s is located is about $3,500 per month. So even though this particular billing cycle appears to cover two months, it’s nearly 3 times higher, “clearly there’s something seriously wrong with this bill,” Swartz said.
Earlier this week, the president of RG&E told News10NBC investigative reporter Jennifer Lewke that it recently switched its billing system, and between fixing some glitches and understaffing, the utility was caught in a customer service crisis, “That’s why I Customers are asked to be patient, but I know they will hold us to high standards, and it’s only fair that they will complain until we meet theirs,” Trish Nilsen said.
In a statement on the Swartz issue on Friday, an RG&E spokesperson said, “According to our records, in the past year, several meter readings were arranged and successfully carried out for this commercial customer. In some cases, the readings were not possible due to the inaccessibility of the building. In these cases , as per standard practice, an estimate of past usage was applied. We will continue to contact this customer to address their concerns.”
The utility said customer-submitted meter readings are not an option for energy-heavy commercial customers.