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Washington Gas penalized more than $1 million for widespread customer service problems


Washington Gas customers contacted 7News On Your Side to report issues they were having contacting the utility company to avoid disconnections. (7News FILE PHOTO)
Washington Gas customers contacted 7News On Your Side to report issues they were having contacting the utility company to avoid disconnections. (7News FILE PHOTO)
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Washington Gas must pay a civil penalty of $1,147,600 for widespread problems with its customer service, the Maryland Public Service Commission said Thursday in a final ruling on the Office of People Counsel’s complaint filed in September 2021.

Washington Gas’s continued failure to improve its customer service record following its 2018 acquisition by AltaGas has resulted in customers suffering “significant harm,” the Commission’s order said.

Washington Gas customers contacted 7News On Your Side back in September to report issues they were having contacting the utility company to avoid disconnections.

Some customers were frustrated because they couldn't get through to customer service in time to avoid disconnections, while others said they hadn't been able to reach anyone to have their service restored.

READ MORE: 'It's like no one's in the office': Washington Gas customers unable to contact company

“The Commission appropriately imposed a significant penalty for Washington Gas repeated violations,” said People’s Counsel David S. Lapp. “Most important, we hope that Washington Gas gets the message and improves its customer service.”

The Commission found in an earlier order that OPC’s complaint demonstrated the utility’s “extensive failure to provide adequate customer service” within its Maryland service territory. Among other violations, the Commission agreed that Washington Gas has consistently failed to meet industry standards for responding to customers who call its service center for issues such as connecting or terminating service, bill inquiries, and other matters.

RELATED: OPC: Washington Gas should pay $1.5 million, submit plan to fix customer service issues

The utility’s many years of customer service problems, along with its regulatory violations and its previous reporting failures, weighed into its penalty calculations, the Commission said. The Commission also ordered the utility to suspend collections, disconnections, and late fees until it meets nine customer metrics for three consecutive months.

“The penalties vindicate the complaints of many Maryland consumers who have struggled with their gas service,” Lapp said. “Washington Gas’s customers are captive and have nowhere else to turn for essential gas service, making it critical that Washington Gas improves its service. We will be monitoring Washington Gas’s progress in raising its performance to industry standards.”

Washington Gas told 7News late Thursday that they indeed are in compliance, issuing us the following statement:

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"Washington Gas is in compliance with our performance metrics required by the Maryland Public Service Commission. We are in the process of reviewing the Order we received from the Commission today."


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