The Attorney General of Arkansas is attempting to block a utility company from resuming its normal collection and disconnection activities, arguing that there have been too many complaints from consumers and the state’s Public Service Commission has not had a chance to conduct a thorough investigation.
A copy of the motion filed by Tim Griffin, the AG of Arkansas, can be accessed by clicking here.
The AG’s office has received nearly 3,000 complaints from consumers about Summit Utilities Arkansas, mostly due to sharp increases in gas prices and problems with billing. The AG’s office asked the Public Service Commission to investigate the utility’s purchasing and billing practices. Summit has announced its plan to resume normal collection activities — including charging late fees and disconnecting customers who do not pay their bills — this July. The services were temporarily suspended last November when the company transitioned to its own billing system.
“We encourage customers to contact us as soon as possible if they are having difficulty paying their bills so we can work with them to find a solution,” Fred Kirkwood, Summit’s chief customer officer, said in announcing the restart. “Our customer service representatives can help set up payment arrangements if customers need them or direct customers to payment assistance agencies in their area.”
The company said it has added an extra 50 customer service agents, that its call wait times are averaging less than 91 seconds, and that its billing accuracy rate is 98.5%.
A published report from January revealed that 167,000 customers of Summit in Arkansas and Oklahoma were incorrectly billed as a result of estimations that were made about the gas usage for those customers.