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Power Companies To Customers With Big Post-Sandy Bills: Read Your Own Meters

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Power customers across the Tri-State Area were thoroughly displeased after getting huge bills for estimated usage this month despite losing power, and then being asked to read their own meters to correct the situation.

As CBS 2's Jessica Schneider reported, when Gabriella Wilday of Ridgewood opened her electric bill, she was astounded.

"This isn't gouging," she said Wednesday. "But this certainly seems unfair."

Wilday was slapped with a whopping $394 charge, despite nine long days without power.

"Instead of providing a bill based on actual usage, it was based on estimated usage," Wilday said.

The practice is being used by every major utility in the Tri-State Area. Meter readers could not get out after the storm, so the charge for this month is an estimate calculated based on use in November of last year.

Con Edison, the Long Island Power Authority, Jersey Central Power & Light, and Public Service Enterprise Group of New Jersey all told CBS 2 they will adjust the bills next month, or customers can figure out their own adjustments now.

But Wilday said she could not believe she had to figure it out all herself, when the utility company could easily credit her without the hassle.

"Why should the public have to call PSE&G, wait on hold, to get instructions on how to have their bill reflect actual usage in November," Wilday said. "It doesn't seem fair that that should be our responsibility."

One of the pieces of advice the utility companies have given their customers is to come outside and check the meters themselves. Customers can write down the numbers and call the utility themselves, and the utilities will adjust the customers' bills with the actual numbers.

Wilday decided to take the advice, and she planned to call PSE&G with the updated numbers. But it was an added burden after a month of stress.

"I think that they should consider all the loss and devastation and go above and beyond," instead of making their customers do all the legwork, Wilday said.

PSE&G has also told customers they can reduce their payments based on how many days they lost power.

Do you think it is unfair for the power companies to ask customers to read their own meters? Leave your comments below...

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