Utah Ratepayers Association

Education and Lobbying for Ratepayers of Utility-type Services with Limited or No Alternatives

 

Formal Complaints

 

 


Your utility bill was wrong or unfair, or the service you received was unacceptable.

You contacted the utility, but it wasn't willing to resolve your complaint to your satisfaction.

You filed an Informal Complaint with the Utah Division of Public Utilities.

Either you or the utility requested, or the Division recommended, Mediation.

Your complaint still hasn't been resolved to your satisfaction.


Then - Make a Formal Complaint to the Public Service Commission of Utah

If your complaint is unresolved through the informal procedure or mediation, the Division must inform you of your right to make a formal complaint to the Commission.

It must also provide you with the Commission's Formal Complaint Instructions and Formal Complaint Form.  All following quotations are taken from those Instructions.

The Commission demands that ratepayers who formally complain against a utility do so "in simple, straightforward, non-technical language" and provides a one-page form for the purpose.

The Commission then gives the utility 30 days "to answer your complaint".

[The utility will most likely have its lawyers answer and their reply will usually run to a dozen or more pages of formal legal jargon that will probably baffle you.

You will have an opportunity to reply to the utility's answer.

Don't forget you can contact the Utah Ratepayers Association to ask for advice and help.  We can't promise anything, but the sooner you contact us, the more helpful we may be able to be.

Contact details are at the bottom of this page.]

The Commission will then decide if it has the "authority to help you through its hearing process".

[All that means is that it will decide whether to schedule a hearing.  Nobody on the Commission's staff is going to assist you in presenting your case.]

"If a hearing is scheduled, the Commission will send you a notice indicating the hearing date and time".  "If you fail to attend a hearing, and have not alerted the Commission, your complaint will be finally dismissed."

[You can ask the Commission to reschedule the date, time or location of the hearing. 

You can do that as soon as you receive the notice if you already have another commitment, or later if something comes up. 

You should offer a reasonable explanation of why you want the change, and the sooner you ask, the less inconvenient it will be for everyone and the more kindly your request will be treated.

You mustn't delay your hearing unreasonably, or the utility will complain, the Commission will lose patience, and you may be treated unsympathetically during the hearing, or your complaint may simply be dismissed without a hearing.

But there is no need to feel pressured into an early hearing date. 

The Commission will usually let you take the time to get advice and help from an attorney, the Utah Ratepayers Association, or a friend you trust. 

It will most likely let you take time to reply to the utility's answer to your complaint, including asking the Company questions about how it arrived at your bill or provided service to you and how it has handled your complaint. 

Let the Commission know as early as possible if you intend to do any of those things so that it will be inclined to treat your request for the extra time to do them properly with understanding. 

You can also request reasonable additional time to prepare for the hearing.

If this all seems overwhelming, you might want to take a deep breath and contact the Utah Ratepayers Association to ask for advice and help before you give up.  We can't promise anything, but the sooner you contact us, the more helpful we may be able to be.

Contact details are at the bottom of this page.]

Hearings are held in a courtroom setting "with a court reporter recording the proceedings.  All testimony will be under oath, and false testimony may be made the basis for a felony prosecution for perjury.  The opposing side may cross examine all witnesses, including you as Complainant.  You have the responsibility of proving the merits of the complaint." 

[Many ratepayers find all that quite threatening, and give up.

If you feel intimidated by it, contact the Utah Ratepayers Association to ask for advice and help before you give up.  We can't promise anything, but the sooner you contact us, the more helpful we may be able to be, but it might be better to contact us late than not at all.

Contact details are at the bottom of this page.]

"Utility companies are represented by their lawyers.  You may also have a lawyer, if you wish.  If you come without your lawyer, you will be held to have given up your right to legal representation."

[The Company gets to treat the cost of employing its own, or hiring outside, lawyers just like any other expense.  In other words, it goes into rates and customers pay for it.  You get to pay your own lawyer if you hire one.

On the plus side, you won't have to pay the utility's legal costs if you lose.  On the other hand, it won't pay yours if you win.

Nor will you get anything more than the disputed amount on your bill.]


Contact the Utah Ratepayers Association

Telephone

(801) 998-8511

Electronic Mail

ura@utahratepayers.org

Mailing Address

1375 Vintry Lane, Salt Lake City, Utah 84121



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Last Modified: 29 March 2008