(CBS) — Her home was empty for months. When she returned, she was hit with big electric bills.
CBS 2’s Dave Savini investigates this unexplained electrical spike and tells us about tools you can use if your bill spikes.
Veronica Trujillo believes her 77-year-old mother is a victim of a faulty electric meter that was newly installed.
“I do feel that she’s been taken advantage,” Trujillo says.
Amparo Trujillo says her electric bills skyrocketed after a new meter was installed. The usage even doubled during an eight-month period while she was in a hospital and then a rehab facility following heart and hip surgeries.
“When I was in the hospital, my electric went up and nobody’s here,” she says.
Her daughter says the bill spikes ranged from 30 percent to 142 percent.
“We literally went through every room to make sure we unplugged everything,” she says.
Family members say when they complained to ComEd, the utility told them the problem was on their end.
“They just kept telling us that it was something we were doing,” says Veronica Trujillo.
ComEd inspected the meter and said it was fine, the family says. After it was checked, the bills went down.
“I don’t know that they’re being dishonest, but I don’t feel we are getting the straight answer,” Veronica Trujillo says.
The 2 Investigators have looked into other similar complaints — unexplained usage spikes, then bills returning to normal after ComEd checks the meters and say they are fine.
Renate Lux says it happened to her.
“If it wasn’t a defective meter, why would it go down to normal when another meter was put in? she says.
Jim Chilsen with the Citizens Utility Board says the organization is looking into these complaints.
“If we think that the customer was wronged, we fight like heck to get the customer a refund,” he says.
There are ways for consumers to get help.
“You can actually request that the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) referee a meter test, to have another set of eyes on the meter that is being tested,” Chilsen explains.
Veronica Trujillo says there is no explanation as to why her mother’s bill spiked and it cost her hundreds of dollars.
ComEd says they continue to work with the Trujillos. The utility urges customers to immediately call if bills spike.
To get an ICC referee, you have to send a letter and $20 to the agency. There are only two referees on staff.
Another option: You can ask ComEd to audit your electrical usage or hire a private company to conduct the audit.