More Atmos customers complain about spike in bills

After the CEO of Atmos Energy said the natural gas company would no longer estimate people's bills in the winter, there have been more complaints from people who believe they were overcharged.

Many people saw their bills spike just as Atmos was dealing with a deadly home explosion in Northwest Dallas along with service disruption to thousands of nearby residents.

Scott Bandy and his wife could not believe their eyes when they saw their February Atmos bill for $300.

"A bill for this house has never been over $150 even in the coldest of winters."

The couple says the home is vacant while they renovate it. The thermostat was always set at 60 degrees just to protect the pipes.

"I've never heard it come on,” Bandy said. “I’m over here at least once a day."

After Bandy contacted Atmos, he received an even higher bill that included the previous balance.

"She sent me another bill $500-$600 said that's the correct bill. I said, no it's not. I've lived in the house 18 years. I can tell you we've never had a bill anywhere near this."

Bandy is not sure where the measured usage came from. He even asked for a leak check but says he was never notified of any problems. He does, however, live in Northwest Dallas near the area where Atmos cut service and replaced old pipes to thousands of residents.

It's a similar story for Angie Beauregard, who says she's never seen a bill that high at the home where she's lived for 14 years.

"When I received my March bill, I opened it up and it was $293,” she said. “Contacted customer service to see if there was a mistake. They explained my bill had been estimated.”

Turns out they had apparently underestimated on previous bills.

"I explained this is not acceptable. It doesn't fit into my budget,” Beauregard said.

The CEO of Atmos told the Dallas City Council on Wednesday that estimated billing was intended to cut costs on meter readers. But the company determined it wasn't working and now says it will end the practice.

Atmos says even when it estimates bills, meter readers will later come out to get the actual gas usage so no one should ever pay more than is owed or less for that matter.

After finding out her April bill was also estimated, Beauregard asked for a meter reader to come out.

"They said they didn't have readers who could come out. They said they could teach me to read the meter. I already have a job. I don't want to start meter reading for them,” Beauregard said. “I don't think the burden should be on me to send them a picture to confirm their billing is correct.”

Still, Atmos is urging any customers with questions to call them and provide pictures of meter readings if you suspect the measurement on your bill is wrong.

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