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@example.com 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.
Director, Meter Reading & Billing Services
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.