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UTC staff intervened in thousands of potential utility disconnections, customer complaints in 2022

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UTC staff intervened in thousands of potential utility disconnections, customer complaints in 2022

Complaint investigations result in $113,808 in customer credits

 

LACEY, Wash. – In 2022, consumer protection staff at the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission intervened in nearly 28,000 potential customer energy utility disconnections and closed thousands of customer complaints across six industries.

Over the last two years, state regulators established protections for investor-owned utility customers impacted by the pandemic and required energy and water utilities to notify the UTC before disconnecting any customer’s service due to non-payment. This requirement went into effect after the Governor’s disconnection moratorium expired in September 2021, and continued through September 2022. As a result, UTC consumer protection staff reached out to nearly 28,000 customers scheduled for disconnection to make sure customers understood their rights and bill assistance options, and ensured that companies were following notification and assistance guidelines.

Additionally, UTC staff closed 1,265 total customer complaints across six industries in 2022, resulting in the return of $113,808 in credits and refunds to customers.

The commission is partnering with federal and state agencies to support National Consumer Protection Week, March 5-11. The annual campaign encourages consumers to know and understand their rights and responsibilities in order to make better-informed decisions. 

In its annual analysis of consumer complaints, the commission found that landline telecommunications companies once again topped the list of closed complaints, making up 44% of the 1,265 consumer complaints staff closed in 2022. When combined, electric and natural gas utilities made up 24% of the closed complaints, and 27% were against solid waste companies. The remainder of closed consumer complaints were against moving and water companies.

The most common complaints involved quality of service, disputed bills, and customer service.

The UTC’s Consumer Protection Help Line received 5,476 phone calls, and staff also responded to over 1,753 letters, web complaints, and emails from the public. In addition to resolving complaints, staff helped consumers find utility assistance, provided information on consumer rights, and assisted consumers in locating permitted residential moving and passenger transportation companies.

Consumers can file a complaint against a regulated company by calling the Consumer Protection Help Line at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882), emailing consumer@utc.wa.gov, or visiting www.utc.wa.gov/fileacomplaint.

The UTC regulates the rates and services of the state’s investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities, landline telephone companies, solid waste haulers, private water systems, and residential movers among other industries. The agency also manages the state’s pipeline, railroad, and intrastate bus and trucking safety programs. 

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Topic(s)
Consumer
General