East Nashville homeowner disputing gas bill after utility company replaces meter

Resident says gas provider refuses to adjust bill.
WSMV4 Investigate's Stacey Cameron reports
Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 9:19 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Complete sticker shock. That is how Andy Jones said he reacted this winter when he opened his November gas bill from Piedmont Natural Gas.

The bill showed Jones’ total charges at $358.23, and at first felt certain Piedmont made some type of billing mistake.

“We’ve been here almost five years and the highest bills is $240, maybe $250,” Jones said. “So, we put in a call to them.”

According to Jones, Piedmont said the bill was correct, so he and his husband stopped using the gas fireplace in their living room in December to cut down their bill.

But Jones said his shock turned to panic when that month’s bill jumped to $532.74.

After calling Piedmont again to dispute the bill, but getting nowhere, Jones said the couple had a serviceman come out to their East Nashville home to make sure their fireplace, gas stove and hot water heater were working properly.

“There was no leakage,” Jones said. “He checked all the appliances inside the home, and the technician watched the gas meter outside for 30 minutes to see if there was any movement, and he said he couldn’t find anything wrong.”

At that point Jones said he felt confident that the cause of his high gas bill had to be a problem on Piedmont’s end.

So, when his January bill hit $529.41, Jones said he called Piedmont and demanded someone from the company come out and check his gas meter in person.

Jones said in early February a Piedmont technician did visit his home.

“The technician came out, he did a walk around and looked at the meter, and he said I’m going to go ahead and replace it,” Jones said.

With the meter being replaced, Jones figured the high bill problem was solved, and three weeks after the technician left, Jones said he called Piedmont customer service again to get his past charges adjusted down.

“The first person I talked to said the technician did report that the meter was freezing,” Jones said.

But according to Jones, after a supervisor audited his account, Piedmont refused to lower his bill.

“They said nope, nothing is going on with our bills,” Jones said. “So, the only thing I’ve been told is it’s not our fault, you need to pay your bill.”

That’s when Jones reached out to WSMV4 Investigates for help. We contacted Piedmont to inquire about Jones’ bill and whether the meter was to blame for the high bills.

Through a series of emails, a Piedmont representative stated that the meter was pulled from Jones’ home on Feb. 1 and sent to a facility in Georgia for testing. The results of those tests would determine whether Jones’ bill would be adjusted.

However, that testing was not ordered until late March and the company representative did not know why it took more than seven weeks for that to take place.

Jones said between the time the meter was replaced and mid-April, he called Piedmont several times and was never informed that his old meter was undergoing tests until WSMV4 got involved.

Two weeks after WSMV4 Investigates contacted Piedmont, the company informed Jones that testing determined his meter was not broken, and at this point, his gas charges would not be lowered.

Piedmont did offer to come inspect the gas lines at Jones’ home, something now planned for early May.

In the meantime, Jones said he remains confused why the bill remains so high with only two people living in his home and the fireplace no longer in use.

While Jones may not succeed in challenging his gas bill, there are three things someone facing high gas charges should keep in mind.

First, if you get a bill you believe is incorrect, you only have 15 days from the billing date to dispute the charges.

Second, while the bill is being formally challenged, the gas company cannot tack on late fees or disconnect your service.

Finally, if the meter is not the cause of a disputed bill, you can ask the gas company to come and inspect your gas lines and appliances for free.

Moving forward, Jones said he and his husband are prepared to pay the bill, but he said the high charges remain a mystery he’s afraid they won’t be able to solve anytime soon.

“I wish I could figure out something we are doing wrong,” Jones said. “The house is under five years old, so it’s not like these are old appliances or anything.”