A little over three months ago there was supposedly a gas leak somewhere in the neighborhood. A Pacific Gas & Electric technician came in to my apartment and turned the gas off, and then over the next couple of weeks there were workers (not from PG&E) around the building. At one point they tore a hole in my bedroom wall and left it there for days.
Eventually an inspector came in and signed off that the system was safely fixed. The workers came back and patched up the hole in my bedroom wall. And no one ever turned the gas back on in my apartment. I’ve confirmed this by turning the thermostat up to 90° when it’s 60° inside. Nothing happens.
I have since received three bills from PG&E. Not very large bills, but it seemed that it must be for more gas than I’ve used, unless it’s still leaking. A few weeks ago I angrily tweeted my displeasure with PG&E’s automated pay system (and in-person pay centers) charging $1.25 for the privilege of giving them money.
Examining my bill more closely, I now see that I’ve been accruing charges for the time my service has been shut off. For three months in a row now, I have been getting bills for a little over three dollars each month for «transportation fees» which I assume is a fancy way of saying that I’m paying for the privilege of having gas transported to my location.
I suppose that I don’t mind the idea that I would pay a minimum fee just for having service. However, I’m disinclined to pay them at all for service which PG&E disconnected and never turned back on. If they want me to pay a flat minimum fee for access to gas, I think that should be predicated on whether I actually have access to gas.
I grew up in New England, and I remember more mornings where the temperature was below -20°F than I can count. I live in California, where I can’t tell you the last time it dropped below fifty degrees here. I don’t have a gas stove, although I would prefer one. This one wall heater is the one possible source of natural gas I could use. Most of the time I keep the front door open. If I get cold, I close the door. If I get really cold, I close the windows. If I get really cold, I put a sweater on. It rarely ever gets colder than that, so I haven’t really cared whether I have heat in my apartment.
The thing that will be really funny will be when they start threatening to disconnect my gas. I look forward to calling them up to say, «hi, I received this notice that you’re going to shut off my gas if I don’t pay my gas bill. That won’t be possible unless you turn it on first.»
Never mind that threatening to cut off gas to someone who has used zero therms in the last three months seems like a threat without much teeth.
My only real question is: do I have any obligation to tell them that they haven’t reconnected my gas? Because honestly, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to pay even three dollars per month for something I don’t use.