7 On Your Side: A National Grid billing nightmare

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Nina Pineda has the story. (WABC)

Electricity bills can go up and down, but imagine being told you owe thousands of dollars. After Seven On Your Side began looking into one business' power bill problem, we found out it may impact many more people than first thought.

For two couples who always pay their bills on time, getting calls and letter about delinquency and being threatened with service shutoff was very distressing, especially when more than half a year of disputing the bills went nowhere.

Cooking on the stove and using the dryer is the only gas Rosalie and Ernie Ferranola use in their modest Oceanview home, yet the retirees got hit with a monthly bill fit for a building.

"I said what?" Rosalie said. "How could that possible be?"

The Ferranolas say National Grid installed a new gas meter in December, and that's when their usage reading went through the roof to the tune of $6,000.

"It's impossible," Ernie said. "My house would have been melted down to the ground."

About 50 miles away in Commack, the Aiellos were getting shocked by their ballooning bill, which Arlene Aiello says topped $9,500 for one month.

They also had a new meter installed at the end of last year.

Each customer was assured the charges were mistakes, yet each month, the bills kept growing.

"They called us up, 'pay your bill, pay your bill,' and I'm like, what are you, crazy?" Rosalie said. "We're not going to pay a bill like that."

Then the calls started coming in from the collection agency.

"They're degrading our name," Rosalie said. "They're making it look like we don't want to pay our bill, and I said this outrageous."

Then, it was disconnection notices.

"Then I panicked, I says I'm calling Nina Pineda," Arlene said. "I got on my iPad."

"My blood pressure goes up, and I said I wanna know what the hell is going on," Rosalie said. "I'm going to do something. I'm going to call Channel 7."

National Grid said it installed half a million new meters, and some were improperly programmed. Then, billing data mistakes resulted in the bloated gas bills.

The Aiellos reported they received an apology, and both customers got new bills with $0 balances.

"The best thing I did in 80 years was getting you guys on my side," Ernie said.

National Grid assured us that no customers will be sent to collection for charged late fees or penalties, and that they are working to streamline the billing process, fix the meters and have all customers accounts straightened out.
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