You may be unaware of the rights you have as a utility customer. But it's important that you understand these rights when dealing with your electric or local telecommunications provider before filing a complaint.
Refusal of Service
Public Utility Commission (PUC) rules state that an electric or local telecommunications provider may refuse you service for the following reasons:
- Hazardous or inadequate facilities or equipment
- Helping another customer avoid paying his/her bill by applying for service at a location where that customer already receives service
- Refusal to pay a deposit if you can't show satisfactory credit
- Failure to pay another utility for the same type of service you've requested
- Failure to pay the bill of another customer for whom you signed a written guarantee
- Failure to comply with a utility's tariff regarding operation of nonstandard equipment
Utilities may not refuse you service for the following reasons:
- Previous occupant's failure to pay utility bill
- Failure to pay for non-regulated services such as insurance policies or Internet service from your electric or telecommunications provider
- Failure to pay a bill for another utility's under-billing that occurred more than six months before the application date
If an electric or local telecommunications provider refuses to serve you, the utility must tell you why. If you don't agree, you may file a complaint with the PUC.
PUC Disconnect Rules
Thousands of Texans have no local telephone service in their homes because their service was disconnected for nonpayment of long distance charges. They have no means of communicating with family and friends, no way to make business contacts and no access to emergency and 9-1-1 services. Commission rules prohibit local phone companies from disconnecting local phone service for non-payment of long distance charges.
To keep your phone service, you must continue to pay your local telephone bill. If you do not pay your long distance charges, your long distance service on your phone can be blocked and long distance companies can take necessary actions to collect outstanding debts.
Disconnect notices indicate your bill must be paid in full to avoid disconnection. Disconnect notices must advise customers what portion of their bills must be paid to keep their local phone service. This amount may not include long distance charges.
Other rules limit charges for deposits to no more than the cost of two months of local phone service and prohibit companies from including anticipated long distance charges as part of the deposit. Companies may ask for a separate long distance deposit, but may not require it as a condition for local phone service.
Visit the PUC online for more information, updates or to file a complaint.