ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — RG&E and NYSEG customers frustrated about prolonged billing issues were able to air their frustrations in a public forum at Rochester City Hall Tuesday afternoon.

A second public forum will be held at the same place from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The forums are part of a New York State Department of Public Service investigation into the utility company’s billing practices. Customers have complained about huge bills, routine billing inconsistencies, and extremely long wait times on the phones trying to resolve their issues.

“We’re collecting as many stories from the customers as we can,” said NYSDPS Office of Consumer Services Director Richard Berkley. “We’re going to be looking for patterns. Our office of investigation and enforcement looks for patterns and looks to determine what are the questions that they should be asking the utility as they deepen the investigation as to what’s going on.”

He added, “So we saw at the end of last year that (complaints were) between three and four times as much as the previous two years. And if this first month of January we had almost 800 complaints if it kept going for the whole year … but that’s a number if it stayed at that number for the rest of the year it might be as much as four times as high.”

The RG&E and NYSEG customers did not hold back at the public forum, talking about high bills, billing inconsistencies, and long wait times:

“I did not receive a bill for seven months. I did call RG&E monthly after I got the kids off to school I would call before I went off to work. And I talked with many different agents. I got their names, their first names every time I called and they just said ‘there’s a glitch in the system,'” said an RG&E customer.

“So anyway I’m not paying these bills. I’ll do whatever I gotta do to straighten this out but this is just crazy. Thank you,” said another RG&E customer.

“After thousands of dollars we have been on hold like so many people have said — trying to reach negotiations for budget billing. Still, that has not been resolved,” said customer Pauletta Brown.

“I did have a problem with RG&E, I didn’t get a bill and I called them and I was on the phone for probably over an hour on hold. Just trying to get answers,” said another RG&E customer.

“Improving the customer service experience is a top priority for our Company,“ Trish Nilsen, president and CEO of RG&E and NYSEG said in a statement issued Tuesday (available in full below). “It’s a process that takes time, it takes time to train new representatives in order for them to provide quality service, and we are holding and accelerating this training now.”

Another forum will be held in Binghamton Wednesday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Binghamton State Office Building.

For those unable to attend the public forums, the NYSDPS has a form on their website for customers to fill out. Comments can also be submitted toll-free at 1-800-335-2120.

Statement from RG&E