Good apology from NSTAR

By | August 27, 2007

An employee from NSTAR called this morning about my recent complaint and asked to speak to me. My wife answered the phone and asked what to do, and I told her to ask him to communicate with me in writing, since I had no desire to waste my time speaking with him on the phone. He asked for my email address (I’m not sure why, since NSTAR has it in my E-BIll account settings) and sent me the following email message this afternoon:

Dear Mr. Kamens,

At your request, and as a follow-up to the telephone call I made this morning to your residence, I am responding to you via e-mail in reference to a letter I received from you today that was dated August 21, 2007.

First, I want to reiterate my sincere apology – the e-mail you received clearly should not have been sent to you and your status a an E-Bill customer receiving a paper bill should not have been changed. Today, I asked my billing manager and our Information Technology department to research why you were sent this e-mail. This information will allow us to prevent it from happening again. By sending you an e-mail to discontinue your paper bill after you specifically communicated to us last year that you wanted a paper bill, we have failed to meet our own internal standard for delivering excellent customer service. As such, we will credit your account in the amount of $25.

Second, as I indicated to the person I spoke with on the phone, I want you to know that you will continue to receive a paper bill. One of our Customer Care representatives reestablished your paper bill option this afternoon.

Your letter indicates that at some point were unable to determine how to change your E-Bill status yourself. Although we have done it for you, I wanted to let you to know that you (or any E-Bill customer) can always change their status from paper to paperless or vice versa with just a few simple clicks:

Click Linked Accounts from the main E-Bill menu. It’s the first choice under “My Profile” on the left and will show you your account information.

Click Edit on the right side of the next screen
Check Receive Paper Bill
Click Next, and you will be asked to review and verify the information
Click Finish, and you are done.

If you have any further questions or require additional assistance, please feel free to contact our Call Center via email at [email protected] or call us at 1-800-592-2000.

Again, I apologize for the inconvenience and invite you to call me personally to discuss this further.

Sincerely,

[elided]
NSTAR
Director, Meter Reading & Billing Services
(781) 441-3658

This is just about the best possible response I could have expected, and I’m pretty impressed. The one concern I have is that it doesn’t actually address the root cause of my complaint. Notice that the author of the letter says that I shouldn’t have received the paperless billing email because I told NSTAR last year that I didn’t want paperless billing, not because, as I asserted in my complaints both this year and last year, NSTAR shouldn’t be enabling paperless billing for people who haven’t asked for it (i.e., it should be opt-in, not opt-out). It seems clear that NSTAR intends to continue the practice of enabling paperless billing for customers without their prior consent.

Perhaps the DPU will see reason and make them discontinue this practice, but I’m not holding my breath.

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6 thoughts on “Good apology from NSTAR

  1. Yelitza

    I want to know if I can check my Nstar account online and still received my paper bills? I use to live in N.Y. and you can do that in there without problems. Is possible to do it with Nstar?

    Reply
    1. jik Post author

      I think you can, but I’m not 100% certain. If you log into the NSTAR E-Bill web site, click “Linked Accounts” under “My Profile” on the left, and then click “Edit”, there’s a “Receive Paper Bill” checkbox you can check, which will presumably allow you to receive a paper bill while continuing to have access to the E-Bill site.

      Reply
  2. Gerd Weishaar

    http://www.mypaperlessbills.com just launched support for NStar and National Grid accounts in MA. Try it out, it is really easy to configure and you can get the bill statements directly in your account. The service is free and you will never have to remember the passwords for your utility companies. Try it, it saves paper! cheers Gerd

    Reply
  3. shirley

    I too,had signed up for online billing,but I still wanted to receive a bill(paper) I have not received a paper bill for quite some time. I also didn’t get an email re:my september bill being due,I was away some od=f the time but I’m very diligent about checking my email. It is now Oct. bill time and I did receive an email alert. Can’t find out what happened to my sept. bill alert.

    Reply
  4. David

    I was glad to find your site Mr. Kamens.

    After hearing others in my own family that have experienced the same involuntary paperless billing by NSTAR, (that you have described and documented in great detail), I believe your problem with NSTAR’s automatic sign up for paperless billing was a deliberate act to cut operating costs by NSTAR.

    As Lauren confirmed, she was placed on paperless billing status without her knowledge, too.

    Recently, my brother stopped receiving paper bills without his knowledge! He warned me about paying my NSTAR bill online, because I would soon stop receiving my paper bills in the U.S. Mail, also.

    Of course, NSTAR states that going paperless is for our own convenience and to save the environment, but in reality it is to reduce operating costs!

    Let’s hope your efforts have stopped NSTAR from switching us to paperless billing without our knowledge.

    Thanks for all your efforts to expose this tactic.

    Reply
  5. Lauren

    I just wanted to let you know this happened to me, too, right around the same time of year as you but not in ’06, only in ’07. Like you, I pay my NSTAR bill online but prefer a paper bill. In early October, it dawned on me I had never received a bill with a September due date and subsequently, had forgotten to pay NSTAR in September. Unlike you, they didn’t have my e-mail address so I never got any notification or reminder that my bill was due. When I called them, they told me that I had signed up for paperless. I thought it was strange and that I must be losing my mind (and I think I even apologized to THEM!) because I couldn’t remember doing this at all and haven’t gone paperless with any other company I deal with. I told them that’s strange that I would sign up for paperless and not provide an e-mail address for them to send me my bill but I didn’t argue with the c/s rep because I thought it was possible I had made a mistake and perhaps clicked on something on their site that started the ball rolling for paperless billing. After all, I thought, why would they stop sending me a paper bill without me asking them to? Well, I’m glad I found your site because now I know I’m not going crazy. Come to think of it, I’d have to be sleeping to make a mistake like that.

    Sorry I didn’t provide a real name or my e-mail address to you. It’s for my own security and privacy.

    Good luck with NSTAR.

    Reply

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