Utility Service Contracts
Consumer disputes often occur with providers of utilities and other services. You may have a dispute with the company that provides your gas, electricity or water. Or, you may be arguing with your cable, internet or telephone provider. Consumer disputes with a utility provider can arise in a variety of ways. You may question the amount of your bill or deposit. You may have a problem with the quality of the services or the installment agreement.
If you have a utility dispute, you should first contact the utility provider. Try to document your complaint in writing. Follow up to confirm that your dispute is being investigated. The NYS Public Service Commission (PSC) handles complaints about electricity, natural gas, or telecommunications. You can lodge complaints with the PSC by phone, mail or online. Continue paying your bill during the investigation. If you do not pay the undisputed part of the bill, the utility company may cut off your services. If the PSC rules against you, you may request an informal hearing. If the PSC rules against the utility company, the utility company can request an informal hearing as well.
The NYS Attorney General handles disputes involving cellular service, satellite television or internet service. The Attorney General also investigates disputes over home heating oil and propane.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) handles disputes about television, telephones, radio or emergency communications. The FCC also helps with issues involving access for people with disabilities. You can file a complaint with the FCC by completing a simple online form. You can also contact the FCC by telephone or in writing. The FCC will give you a tracking number for your complaint and forward it to your service provider. The service provider must respond in writing within 30 days. You will receive a copy of the answer.
If you have a dispute with a utility or service provider, you have options for resolving the dispute. Although you may become frustrated by the dispute, do not ignore the problem. If you do, you could risk having your services discontinued. The service provider could sue you and it may affect your credit history.
Legal Editors: Mark Grossman, Esq. and Edward E. Klein, Esq., May 2018
Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.