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311: They Are Not the People’s Gas


I had an experience with People’s Gas that I thought was worth sharing because it has happened to so many people. People write blog posts for many different reasons. I want to be explicit about my purpose for this one. I firmly believe that my experience with People’s Gas is one that many American consumers have experienced before and NO American citizens should experience again. I am writing this posting to encourage the kind of outrage that initiates change. Customer service should not be an option in any company, especially one that provides consumers with a necessary service. Handling an issue with this service should not be an arduous task and we must demand this truth.

I recently moved into a new apartment. My wife and I had all of our utility and service accounts setup a month prior to our move in date. Everything was set for the perfect move in. You all already know that this is a fantasy but we did the best we could do to get as close to a seamless move as possible. As the weeks flew by the bills flew in. However, we noticed that there was no gas bill. We reached out to insure that all was well and they promised that it was on the way. Noting this fact we waited for it. Last week, I woke up, took my wife to work and returned home to fix myself some breakfast prior to heading to work myself. I noticed that my stove did not work. After multiple tries I checked my furnace to see if the pilot was out. Faintly smelling gas I called the emergency hotline.  Better safe than sorry when dealing with a gas issue. After giving my information, the emergency customer service person told me that my account was not properly set up and that my gas had been turned off the previous day. He could not transfer me to the regular customer service department so I had to sit out side for an hour waiting on them to come check for a leak or other emergency while waiting on hold to speak to another service agent. After about a twenty minute wait on the phone I was told that our online application had not properly processed and we needed to fax them some proof that we were the new tenants in the unit. (Mind you we were not told this when we spoke with them the previous month.)

That same day, I faxed over all of the documents they requested. I called back to confirm that they received my documents and I was on hold for over 30 minutes having never spoken to a human agent. I admit my frustration hearing, “Your call is very important to us… Please keeping holding”. It did not feel that way as I waited for over an hour and still spoke to no one. I asked my wife to call later as my frustration grew. When she finally got through, she was told that they sent us a notification, which we NEVER received, and that processing the fax would take at least 24 hours and that she should call back then. (WOW!) We called back the next day to be told that the paper needed to be verified, which would take another 24 hours and then they would send a technician, which would be 3 – 5 business days. My wife explained that we both had health issues that required this to be escalated to more of an emergency status. My wife was told that they would “do their best”. Not satisfied with this response, my wife called back asking for a manager. It was on a Friday and the manager told her that Wednesday was the earliest she could do anything. At this time a coworker gave some stunning advice.

We were advised to call 311 (the none emergency police line) and explain our situation. I had never heard of this method but my wife gave it a shot. They listened to our situation and then they called People’s Gas themselves with her on the line to give any important information. MAGICALLY, People’s Gas was now available first thing on Monday morning to reactivate our service. I took issue with the fact that customer service departments are in place to provide service to customers. Why does People’s Gas get to outsource real customer service to the police department? Why do we have to call the none emergency hotline and tell the exact same story to get a completely different result? From this I say to the world, we must demand better of these huge companies that are clearly too big to care about the customers that have unwillingly made them so big.  If they cannot make changes themselves then we must demand it. We must write them, we must tweet, Facebook, blog or simply shout it from the mountain top.  We must let them know we are not happy. If they do not help you then you know that you too can call 311 and they will. I guarantee that the police will tier of doing customer service work for People’s Gas and THEY will demand a change.  Either way, People’s Gas should be about the people and it won’t be if we stay quiet. Comment and tell me your troublesome story with People’s Gas and share this story with someone you know that may be having trouble with them now. There is an answer to the number 311 even when 866-556-6001 doesn’t work. They don’t want to wait on their payment but they expect us to wait on good service. Time for a change!


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