Ten-Second Rant: Putting the Con in Con Edison

Does this happen to you?

I moved into this particularly tiny studio apartment in January, and got an electric bill a month later for $90 (for that kind of money, don’t you think?, I should be flying to the moon and back on my desk lamp). The next month, the bill was for $185. I called Con Ed when I had a free moment (i.e. three weeks later), and the Indian woman on the other end (whose lights were probably flickering in her Delhi office while the garbage was smoldering outside) told me to go read my meter.

So I did—I went down to this hidden room in the basement full of dials and water bugs on glue boards and discovered that, according to the meter, the number of kilowatts used, as of that day, was hundreds of kilowatts lower than the number Con Ed claimed had been on the meter before I’d even moved in (emphasis mine). The guy on the other end of the line at Con Ed laughed when I told him this. He said, “We’ll send you a new bill in the morning.” That new bill, for two months, was for $62.

The same thing happened with my cable bill—there was a mysterious $100 added to it that I politely asked them to remove. (“Oh, shit,” the cable woman from Brooklyn said, “this is all screwed up.” “Uh-huh,” I said, “right?”)

Not to get too conspiracy theory-ish about it, but are these errors intentional? Are the utility companies overcharging people, figuring that some will notice and some won’t? Isn’t that illegal? Think of how many people don’t look at their bills, and just throw their dough at Dr. Warner and Mr. Con.

(Excuse me while I go to the corner of my tiny apartment where I keep my tiny shrine and do my healing mantra by battery-powered flashlight: yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can.)