Recently in PSE&G Category

PSE&G Settlement

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Well the drama appears to be ending soon.

A manager from PSE&G called me on Friday night and we talked for a bit. I told him my tale of woe, about how I lived in the building for many years and had many different roommates. He was sympathetic, but there was only so far that he could reduce my liability.

If you remember, the first offer reduce my liability 10 months, to 73, which was about $1,000 off my bill. Now, they are going to reduce our liability from 83 months to 55 months, or $8,300 to $5,500, since we owed about $100 per month on average.

I feel like its a game show. Do I take their offer now or risk taking it to court? The judge could rule in my favor or with PSE&G. If they rule in PSE&G's favor - then I owe the whole bundle. If they rule in my favor, well, who knows what I would owe.

I have talked to a ton of people about this, even people in the electric industry. Those working in the industry told me that I should never expect the entire amount to just go away. I was hoping I could get it reduced to 1/3 of what I owe, and they said at best it could be reduced to $4,000 or so.

I am probably going to go with the deal that was offered. It isn't great, but at least my current roommates, Kristen and Jon said they would pay me back, which is about $1,000. I'm going to at least ask those that lived with me to pay me the money they owe (the amount of months living there multipled by $33.33).

Of the $4,500 left, I figured that I, myself, did owe $1,833. So i'm paying about $2,667 for old roommates, those that lived with me from October 2005 to March 2001.

It's not a perfect situation, but I fought it and looking at it optimistically, I saved myself and others $2,800 in liability.

Contacting The News

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I sent an email to ABC, NBC and CBS news desks about the PSE&G story. I hope they take time to read my email.

I'm waiting for a callback from PSE&G to talk about them not shutting my electricity off on Friday. I'm waiting for the BPU to process my paperwork to see if we have a legal cause to fight here.

This isn't fun.

BPU reviewing my case

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Got a bunch of phone calls Friday from an automated system at PSE&G. They are saying i'm 5 payments behind (not true) and can't "guarantee continued service after June 30".

I put in the paperwork Friday to have the Board of Public Utilities legal team review the case and see if it warrants legal action. My arguement which I sent to them centers around the fact that PSE&G haven't checked my electricity over seven years. There were people living in my apartment before me and I don't believe that PSE&G knows where the zero sum begins for my electric usage. If the tenants before me used $5,000 use of electricity and they moved out - how does PSE&G know this if they never checked the meter? I moved in - the meter doesn't reset to zero.

I don't think that the $8,000 that I owe is a proper an accurate count of the electricity that I used. I also believe that PSE&G didn't do enough to warn me of this situation. Just saying on my bill that the bill was an estimate - why didn't I get any follow up mail saying, "Mr. Furey - we haven't checked your meter in three years, please contact ASAP at this number...." I'm getting mail and phone calls now that I owe money, but where was PSE&G's attention to detail before I got into their billing system?

A minor detail of my arguement is that I don't think the $8,000 owed reflects the prorated cost of electricity over the last 7 years. They took the electricity used and multiplied it by today's rates. I'm not thinking its going to be an extreme difference (maybe $7,000 vs $8,000), but i'm still arguing that cost.

Also my last point, which is my weakest point, is the simple fact that I paid my bill over the last 7 years every month and budgeted as such, while living with roommates. I have a hard time believing that if I went to some of my old roommates asking them to pay me back that i'm going to see a dime. Fortunately my current roommates have told me they have no problem paying what they owe and are very sympathetic towards this situation. Even Jon, who is moving out is going to pay what he owes to me and if somehow i'm able to quash this (or dramatically reduce it) I will pay him back.

So Monday is my stressful phone call to the billing group at PSE&G which is always the same. They keep the same attitude of "Fuck you, pay me" whenever I call. Everyone I talk to says the same thing, "DO NOT PAY THEM". But its very stressful for someone like me who has been drilled into his head at an early age about things like credit reports and always paying your bill on time. My biggest fear out of all of this is that my credit gets destroyed over it and I can't get mortgage loans or good rates on credit cards for the next 7 years. Sad isn't it? Losing money, yes that's terrible. But to me even more horrible would be bad credit.

It just looms over my head like a dark cloud since October and I want it over with.

Worked at home for a day

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After spending all day at home, and waiting for my roommates to take over "PSE&G watch" the gas was turned back late last night.

Only good news is that my company didn't make me use a vacation day for all of this, which is nice.

I spent the day "working from home". Which is almost like work, but I can watch TV and nap if I wanted to. It got me really thinking about WHY I have to go to an office everyday.

Seriously - I can do everything I do at home that I do in the office. I'm thinking of asking my boss if we can experiment with "working at home days" for the summer. Just one day a week where we can work out of our house. Only two problems I can see:
1) We don't have access to the corporate network drive. But I think we can fix this.
2) Not sure if everyone has a PC at home in my department. I assume everyone does, but my luck it will be the one guy who doesn't have a PC that screws this up.

Not sure how the boss will react. Worth a shot, I guess.

They turned off my gas...

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I'm home today.

I woke up to an unusually cold apartment and I figured that my pilot light might have blown out on the gas heater. This can happen from time to time and it is easy to relight.

I took a very cold shower, because the hot water heater is heated by gas also. I went downstairs and tried a few times to fix the pilot light. It wouldn't light. Damn it all to hell. I went to work.

Once I arrived at work my roommate Kristen called me on my cell. I didn't even say hello, I just said, "I know, the pilot light is out and I tried to relight it."

She corrected me and said, "I know. And the stove is out too."

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

I call PSE&G and they informed me that my 9,800 bill is the 8,000 from October PLUS the last 6 months of charges of Gas and Electric, which *I* haven't paid.

FUCK. FUCK. FUCK.

I thought everything was on haitus until PSE&G and the BPU figured this out. The balance they can figure that I owed was $1400 for 6 months. 3 roommates. You do the math.

I had to get the gas back on. I called the billing group and it was a nightmare of calling various departments. FIRST to pay over the phone I had to call a number for the collections group. They told me I had to call the credit card group and get a confirmation number to pay the bill. I call the credit card group and they tell me they don't accept American Express. Then I can't put it all on my MasterCard debit for $1400. I have to make 3 payments ($500, $500 and $400) and get charged $4.95 per payment. Wonderful.

I wanted to be angry, but I couldn't. What's there to get angry about? This is just dumb. Also, the readings were accurate since the electric billing has been verified a few times over the last 6 months with the meter readings & checks. So they aren't estimated.

I paid my bill and called the collections group back. They told me, that someone has to be home for them to turn the gas on. Which makes sense because you don't want them turning the gas on - and finding out your house exploded because someone left the stove running. I told my manager I was going home (remember, i'm like the "Landlord Roommate" - everything is MY pain in the ass to deal with for the apartment), and now i'm trying to work from home as best as I can. I can't leave my apartment until that PSE&G guy shows up.

I did take a picture of myself. Man, I really have to update my blog picture of me. Like my grey hairs? D'oh! At least i'm not losing my hair.

I also shaved that goatee off for the summer. Let my whole face get tan when I golf.

I kind of want to start an anonymous blog. I have "other things going on right now" that i'd love to chat about. Some of you who have emailed me know what i'm talking about. Funny stories from the last few days. I might be able to blog them someday down the line.

The Gloves Have Come Off

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In life you are never truly alone when you have friends and family to help you.

My father started an organizion in Philadelphia over 21 years ago called "The Patrons Foundation", a non-profit organization of over 100 current members which provides funding for education, goods and services for people in need in the Philadelphia area. Since its inception, The Patrons Foundation has provided over $1 million in aid to its benefactors, ranging from academic scholarships, to housing payments, to last minute Christmas presents. Patrons funds are directed towards helping individuals who had "fallen through the cracks" in society and provides needed aid to people in times of crisis. It was my fathers legacy and if I was living in Philadelphia I have little doubt that I would be active with that organization also.

Lo and behold when my mother, reading my blog, decided to call a few friends from the Patrons Foundation. Many of them lawyers have come to my aid with much help. I won't go into details at the moment, but after talking to them I feel a lot better about my situation. Nothing has been solved yet, but I have a few people reaching out on my behalf to see if they can assist me.

I will let you all know how this works out. Thanks to everyone who took the time to send me so many emails. I didn't know so many people cared. Thanks again.

Also spoke to the Board of Public Utilities. They don't understand why my case was closed on Friday with PSE&G, when their case was still open. I have many concerns about this bill, like the PSE&G records don't go back more than 3 years - how do they know WHEN my meter began?

There were people living in my apartment before me when I moved into the building. AM I getting billed for the last time they read the meter? How do we know if that wasn't 10 years or 12 years ago, if not longer? At what point are they measuring my meter from 1990? 1991? I moved in the building in 1998. I don't think PSE&G has any idea and are just trying to pull the wool over my eyes.

Zero Hour Approaches

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I got a call this morning from PSE&G. It was an automated response saying I had until April 27th to pay my $9,800 bill. I don't know how in 3 months I used $1800 worth of electricity. I put a call into the customer care center with PSE&G asking why they are after me. I thought the BPU was still investigating this, I spoke to them Friday about it.

Part of me is just thinking I should give up. I hate this looming over my head, it feels like a burden. I was trying to do the math of how many bartending shifts I would have to work to make $8,000. If I worked my ass off, I bet I could make $8,000 in about 3-4 months. I have the money to pay this bill off in the bank. I'm very good with saving my money. As much as I drool over having a BMW, I have been practical enough to just drive my 1993 Volvo. As much as i'd like to jet to Vegas a few times a year, I just settle for chilling in Hoboken. Yea, only a few weeks ago I just sprung for a few plasma TV. I just don't think it is fair that i'm assuming the entire burden of this payment for the last 7 years of my apartment - its a 3 bedroom place, and I would like those who have lived there to pay what they owe, too.

Also I dread the idea of approaching my old roommates about this. I wouldn't go back to anyone who lived with me before 2002. By my calculations each roommate would owe me around $35 per month they lived with me.

The whole lawyer angle is just more months of fighting this and having it looming over my head. Its a huge burden. I just feel tired thinking about it and worrying that somehow my credit rating gets ruined over this. If I don't pay while i'm fighting it and it turns to be a whole credit quagmire that is on my report for the next 10 years. That would suck.

Don't get me wrong, if this whole PSE&G issue were just me paying what *I* owed, I would have paid them $2,666 long ago. But the fact that i'm paying for 2 roommates, for all the various souls who have moved in and out with me over the last 7 years, is what sucks about this whole situation. My name is on the electric bill. Not their name.

I called my mom to see if she could get a friend of my family to assist with some legal questions.

PSE&G Update

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Some of you may be wondering what is happening with PSE&G, and my $8,000 bill.

The BPU is coming out tomorrow to swap my electric meter. They will take the old meter to their offices and test it on March 9th.

A friend of my family was kind enough to get me in contact with a lawyer friend. Her name was Megan and she was extremely helpful...until she found out that her office did some minor work with PSE&G and things got complicated. She is trying to help out but can't offically represent me because of the conflict of interest. But she still thinks the bill is ridiculous and that there is no way that I should pay a dime of the bill.

That's where the situation stands, i'm waiting for the BPU test and once that is done I am hopeful that there will be some type of arbitration between the BPU and PSE&G.

What I'm Up To...And A London Story

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I get lots of the same questions from emails and phone calls, I figure maybe I should follow up on some past stuff & my random comments...

1) PSE&G situation - submitted my request weeks ago for the BPU to test my meter (had to pay $5 for this). I haven't heard from them yet. Called PSE&G and they are aware of my situation and still aren't trying to chase me for that $8,000 bill. Every single person I talk to has the same reaction, "Don't pay a single cent - they can't do this!". I agree, and i'll do whatever I need to do to fight it. I'm currently reaching out to friends of my family who are lawyers for help here, also.

2) Leg situation - i'm getting the titanium bolt removed from my leg on January 19th. My left leg is great, except it simply isn't as strong as my right for as much rehab I have done on it, it just is a slow progression. The bolt could stay in for the rest of my life, and the doctor said it is really a personal decision if I want to keep it in. Personally, I just want it out. I think i'm still going to have an active lifestyle, with the exception of jumping off pitcher's mounds, and I don't want a metal bolt in my leg while this is going on. My fear is that I twist or turn my leg the wrong way - and snap! The bone breaks along the metal line. My doctor confirmed that my fears were accurate, if I put enough stress on the bone, that the bone could be more fragile due to the bolt. I plan on snowboarding in the future and I don't want to have to worry about the bolt when i'm 45. Since i'm relatively young and not 55, I will remove it. My recovery should be 2-3 months per the doctor....not sure how long it will keep me off my feet.

3) Myrtle Beach...planning to hit Myrtle Beach with some friends in March for a golf vacation. It is a bit bittersweet, because a lot of the guys we used to go with are all backing out from the trip for various reasons (saving money, time conflicts, etc). I need to make some new single friends who have time on their hands.

4) Bartending - still chugging along with rumors that the bar has been sold. Of course the bar has been for sale for 2 years, it is only a matter of time before the rumors become reality. Offically - IT HAS *NOT* BEEN SOLD. Just the same rumors are flying around. From what I heard the new owners are going to "re-interview" the staff. No idea what that means for everyone working there, but either way the last few months has been a win-win. I got the Eagles club to the bar & I got to bartend again. Of course I enjoy bartending, but its not the end of the world if I have to stop.

5) Going to see Spamalot next week. I decided to buy tickets to see the show, the mezzanine seats were all filled so I opted for a balcony seat. I want to see the original cast before they get replacements.

6) I'm not sure why but my interest in going to the gym & cooking have completely nosedived. I was chugging along for 2 years and it seems that once I started bartending my interest level in working out tailed off. I'm not sure why, but certainly being around a bar and drinking I think screws up the whole diet (sugary Captain and Cokes didn't help). Thank God for my irish metabolism, I really haven't packed on pounds but I just feel like "blah". I used to eat 5 "meals" a day, and now I just eat breakfast, lunch and find that i'm skipping dinner (damn you, World of Warcraft!)

7) Completely psyched that NJ will ban smoking in about 90 days. One of the hardest things about quitting is being AROUND smokers. This will tremendously help people who want to quit. I was a Court Street on Sunday at the bar. Dining room was packed, and I sat down at the bar to have wine & dinner. Next to me, on either side, were smokers. Puffing away the whole time. I was thisclose to asking them to put their cigarettes out while I ate, but I let it go. I figured that in 90 days they would have to stand outside while I enjoyed my meal in smoke free peace.

8) Funny side story. I left Court Street and a couple left the bar at the same time. The guy looks at me and says, "Hey, don't you bartend at that bar?". I tell him yes but that I didn't remember serving him. He told me he used to come there when we first opened like in 2002. I said, "Well what happened, where have you been?!" The girl pipes up, "Uh, that is my fault." So true. If I had a nickel for the amount of people that get into a relationship and completely disappear from the bar circuit I would have a lot of nickels. I completely understand it, heck, I know i'd do it also, but it just makes me laugh. Makes me laugh even more when they get dumped and suddenly they have a lot more time to hang out with me again.

8) I want to go somewhere this year. I'm leaning towards London. I was there when I was 16, which leads to a short story...

My brother was studing in London in 1988. I was 16, a skaterat and during my Easter break my parents were kind enough to let me visit K for 10 days. I never travelled abroad before, and to boot I was flying alone. I certainly had PLENTY of airplane experience, and being the youngest of four children, I was easily given a lot of responsibility at a young age because of my birth order (parents are ultra careful with their first children, less so with as they have more).

I get out to London, and K is studying at at a college for foreigners and locals called, "Regent's Park College". This school was, in my mind, fucking awesome. It is hard to explain, but the architecture, feel and setting of the entire place was too cool. What I thought college was going to be like - this was it.

As soon as I got to his college, K introduced me to all of his American friends at a Common Room in the college that...had a BAR in it. This was novel to me. You were at the ground floor of your dorm room, with a small bar that served beer & alcohol. I was 16 and in a country that I could easily drink as much as I wanted. This was like a dream come true.

First night we get there, we order up pints and i'm drinking like banshee. We are playing beer drinking games, i'm meeting a lot of cute college girls (including K's girlfriend Megan who was super nice to me from the moment I met her), and I see someone in the pub who looks familiar to me.

If any of you happen to watch the BBC, you may know someone by the name of Rowan Atkinson, who appeared in many BBC TV shows as Mr. Bean or The Blackadder. I knew him as The Blackadder, since this was 1988, and I happened to catch the show in the states on PBS in between watching Monthy Pyton & Dr. Who as a kid.

It wasn't Rowan. But this guy was absolutely, positively looked EXACTLY like him as a 20 year old. So I had a few in me and walked up to him.

I didn't know this guy from Adam, and he didn't know me. Here I am, some 16 year old American string bean that walks up to him and said, not actually knowing Rowan Atkinson's name, but his character:
"Hey, do you know you look like The Blackadder?"

Now, before I tell you his reaction, I can only surmise that over the years he had to have heard this before. Add on top of that that some snot nosed American kid just walked up to him, while he was minding his own business drinking a pint, and said this might have made him a trifle bit upset. He looked at me with a gaze of disdain, but not anger, and said back, "Do you know you look like a bucket of shit?"

That was my first conversation with a Londoner in London. Yes, thank you America, I will be here all week, don't forget to try the veal.

I stopped from that point to continue talking to the Rowan-lookalike, and went back to my brother & his friends sitting a few yards away and told them the story. The table roared with laughter and I never really got to talk to that guy again but to this day I do wonder if he thought I was insulting him (I wasn't) or his impression of what I said to him. I really didn't mean to be rude, and I happen to get that a lot in my life, where I say something completely innocent and the person who hears it either mistranslates my intentions or misunderstands what i'm trying to say. I gotta work on that.

The next day I was completely hungover, having thrown up in the Regent's Park College bathrooms for a good 30 minutes the night before. But I was 16 and I bounced back as soon as I got some food into my body and we prepared that day by smoking pot in the dorm room (I was an old pro with pot since experimenting at 12 years old) from a makeshift bong make from a Galliano liquor bottle. That night we went to a club in London called Camden Palace.

We jump in a taxi and head over there, my head is swirling from beer and pot, i'm somehow still in remarkable control. We get to the front of the club, hop out and a black guy walks straight up to me, with dreadlocks and i'm ready to get mugged (Thank you 16 year old stereotypes!) when he pipes up in a soft voice with his accent, "Would you like to buy some hash, man?"

This completely took me off guard. First, he was really nice about it. Second, he spoke to me like he was selling me scarlet begonias, not East Turkish smack. My reaction was just as novel and simple, saying, "No, thanks not right now." Yea, like *I* was gonna buy hash - I didn't even know what hash was.

"Right, well if you change your mind, I will be out here, man!", he chirps and walks away.

What the fuck? I'm pissing off the locals and making friends with the drug dealers? What kind of bizzaro shit has my life become?

My brother drags me away from the drug dealer and we party the night away at the club. The rest of the week involves us going to Barcelona, getting ripped off by 3 card monte players and learning the essential sentence, "Mas pan, por favor!" at the restaurants (they were poor college students). I got to watch some Flamenco dancing, drink real sangria, and check out an Albino gorilla at the Barcelona zoo (that was depressing because the poor thing was kept in a cage about 10x12 for its entire life).

But the one moment that I never forgot, aside from the whole story, and something I didn't write at the beginning, was when I saw my brother, for the first time getting off the plane in London. I hadn't seen K for about 3 months, and he was really happy to see a family member. It was the hug that I remember. Never since have I felt that much love in a single expression from him. It was simply a hug that maybe people get a few times in their lives. A hug where you can just feel the emotional connection, the bond that makes you family. I remember afterwards his eyes were welled up with tears and we were just smiling through those tears and happy to see each other - so happy, so overjoyed, to be reuinited. That is what I really remember from London. Even as I write these words now I can still feel the power of that hug and it makes me warm inside.

It's Not A Wonderful Life

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I have been avoiding blogging about this for the last few days.

Probably because I have been trying not to think of it, really.

Ever since I moved to Hoboken I have always been the "responsible roommate". I'm the guy who puts his name on the electric, phone and cable bills. I collect the money from the roommates and pay the bills myself. Heck, lots of times I even forget to ask my roommates to pay me and pay the bills anyhow. I have never been great at keeping track of my money, but I have always been fairly good at not overspending what I have and paying my bills on time.

One day, about a month ago I got an automated phone call. This time it wasn't from Corzine's Gubernatorial campaign, but from PSE&G. The automated response informed me that my electric meter hasn't been checked in...

87 months.

87 months? 7.25 years? That is about how long I have lived at this condo. I have been paying an estimate on my electric bills for 7 years?

I really hadn't noticed. I just get the bill, which is electric and gas, and pay it with a check. I tell my roommates each month what 1/3 of the bill was and they paid me in cash. I don't really care how much I was spending, but on average my electric costs were always very low. Now I know why.

The meter guy came to my house two weeks later, after I made arrangements with PSE&G to have someone check the meters. At first we had trouble finding the meters. Like many Hoboken brownstones, this was converted into 2 units - the downstairs (a basement and first floor) and an upstairs (the second and third floor). Unit 1 and Unit 2.

It turns out the electric meters, for both Unit 1 and Unit 2 were inside of Unit 2. Inside an electrical closet, the only way to gain access is hope that someone from Unit 2 was home to open the door. I never knew that. No wonder why they haven't been able to read my meters for 7 years - they have been unable to get access to the other apartment. The meter guy read the units and left saying I would get my bill in a few weeks with the current charges.

I started to do the math in my head. 87 months, and if they were off by, say $10 a month...$870...$20 a month...$1740...$100 a month? Oh, shit.

I got my bill last Friday and opened it up. My worst fears were realized, I owed PSE&G a boatload of money, about $8,000. They were incredibly wrong for the last 7 years estimating my electric bills. I never noticed it. My gas & electric were on the same bill, so I would see each month the full price and pay it, not realizing that electric was ridiculously cheap and an estimate.

I have a condo with 3 roommates. We split all the bills over the years. I have had about 9 roommates over the last 7 years. Some I haven't seen since they left. Others have gotten married and moved out of Hoboken. Some have bought their own condos in town. I really should owe 1/3 of that $8000 bill - $2,666. I can pay that. But 8 grand?

What the hell am I going to do? Call my roommates to pay me back?

"Uh, hi, Rose. Remember you lived with me for a year from 2002-2003? Yea, PSE&G was wrong about the electric bills and you need to pay me back." [click] "Hello? Hello?"

This isn't going to be a scene from "It's A Wonderful Life", 120605.gif
where all my friends and ex-roommates come storming over to my house giving me a basket full of cash to help with the mean-old Potter at PSE&G.

I'm sure Zuzu will show up when a bell tinkles from a tree just to say, "Look, Furey, everytime a bell rings you get kicked in the balls!"

I'm not George Bailey, i'm just Furey.

I called PSE&G their basic reponse was, "Didn't you notice how low your bills were? Do you have central air?" (we do) "Didn't you think that it was low? Sorry, but you have to pay us!"

I am fortunate that my roommate Jon has a friend who is a lawyer. She pulled some case files of similar situations and got me to call The Board Of Public Utilities (BPU). I'm working with them to figure out a solution, and to see if there is anything I can do. I also have the second apartment involved, they got a very expensive bill from PSE&G also (about half of mine, because they have been in the apartment only 3 years). Right now i'm waiting to hear from BPU, but my hopes aren't very high.

"Clarence! Clarence! Help me, Clarence! Get me back! Get me back, I don't care what happens to me! Get me back to my wife and kids! Help me Clarence, please! Please! I wanna live again. I wanna live again. Please, God, let me live again."

That only happens in the movies, not Hoboken.

I have been dreading the realization that i'm going to get stuck with the bill here. My ex-roommates won't lift a finger to help me. My friends and family will be sympathetic. And like the mantra of my life - I have always been alone and I will deal with it on my own.

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