Cleary's NoteBook Can You Help Me?
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Can You Afford Your Utility Bills?
If you live in Gloucester Township, your electric service and the bill will come from Atlantic Electric. But Gloucester City residents must deal with Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) Company. Lucky us!A local woman, disabled in several ways, approached Cleary's Notebook with a horror story that may affect many other residents in town. Here are thedetails.The woman who lives alone has a budgeted account paying $152 monthly for an apartment. After receiving extremely high gas and electric bills late last year, the woman looked into the Office of Economic Opportunity's (OEO) LIHEAP program and found she qualified. She paid the $152 each month, got the application in early January 2023 from the internet, checked off each item as she attached it, or answered the question. She then mailed the package. It wasn't until February 4, 2023, that she got a letter stating that her application had been received and she would be contacted within 60 days (April 4, 2023.) The letter provided a phone number and street address but noted that the consumer should not go to the physical location. This is 2023, and even President Biden said the pandemic is over. Why can't the consumer go to the office?So, after April 4, 2023, the woman called the phone number provided, and guess what? No answer. Leave a message - so she did. Guess what? She never received a return call. This weekend, May 13 - 14, 2023, the woman received a PSE&G bill and shut-off notice for $668. Remember, over the past three months, the woman paid $456 on the budget, which is not shown on the bill. So, $668 plus $456 comes to $1,124 for three months of gas and electricity for a single person in an apartment.So, let's go back to the OEO, this time at the state level. The phone was answered on the second ring. The reason why her application has not been accepted is because it was incomplete. She did not include a copy of her lease and a copy of all pages of her PSE&G bill. Let's explain to the state person that she did include the lease, which was five years old. "That's the problem!" The state lady said. "You need your current lease." "That is my current lease; I've lived in the same apartment for five years." "Oh." The state lady sounded confused. She referred the now-frustrated consumer to the local office on Route 70 in Pennsauken. You remember - that's the office which said Don't Come Here.Enter Cleary's Notebook. A little research found a local phone number which was answered. It is 856-910-1180. The address is 5287 Route 70, Pennsauken, NJ 08110. If you can find Benihanas, Dollar General, and Harbor Freight, you can find the office. They say they are open to the public. If you still are unsatisfied, you can go to the NJ Board of Public Utilities Complaints at 800-624-0241.Good luck.