More than 18,000 Washington Gas customers continue to struggle with paying their monthly bills. This is not due to financial hardship, but because of an ongoing fault within the utility company’s online payment portal. Initially reported months ago to Washington Gas officials, administrators have been unable to remedy the glitch, despite constant efforts.
“It makes me long for the days when you actually walked monthly payments into a service center to ensure your payments had been received,” Washington Gas customer Ingrid Sharples told the AFRO. “It was supposed to be a convenience to have bills and payments sent and paid electronically, but this has been confusing and a waste of time.”
In some instances, clients receive warnings that payments have not been received, or their automatic payments did not register because autopay had been suspended on the site. Others, who set alerts through emails and instant messenger to remind them to pay their bills on or before particular date, were never prompted.
Washington Gas provides services to more than 1 million customers, according to company spokesman Jim Monroe, who said in a statement that they have acknowledged the online problems and believe them to be little more than initiation issues with the new online payment system. “We recognize this has gone on too long for many of our customers,” said Monroe, who first received complaints in January 2016. “Unfortunately our automated system has kicked out a few invoices as a result that have led to people believing their service will be discontinued. That won’t happen.”
Washington Gas said customers should contact the utility company if they get any notifications that their services are in jeopardy of being terminated due to non-payment. “I encourage folks, if they don’t want to go through customer service line because wait times are too long, please contact us on Facebook, on Twitter, and use the automated payment lines,” Monroe said, adding that those who prefer to pay online can successfully auto pay through their bank, rather than logging on to the Washington Gas system, for now.
“We are walking or mailing the payments into Washington Gas until further notice, just as a precaution. It seems to be the most reasonable solution until they can get a firm handle on autopay,” Sharples said.
Washington Gas insists the organization is providing up to the minute communication with affected clients in the interim. “We continue to communicate, offer solutions for resolving billing issues, and provide alternative ways to make payments and no late fees will be charged for eService customers affected by this issue,” a company statement noted. “In the very few cases in which service has inadvertently been suspended due to eService errors, we responded immediately to restore service.”