The company admits delays in answering customer service calls for people who have moved in and need new accounts activated.
WASHINGTON – Washington Gas is admitting unacceptable delays in answering customer service calls, while an avalanche of bitter complaints is being posted on the company’s Facebook page.
Joanne Jackson, of Lexington Park Maryland, is among customers who say they are moving into a new home but are unable to get anyone at the company to open an account and turn on the gas.
“My contract is over, so we have to [move,]”Jackson said.” Who can live in this climate without heat?
She and her fiance will move into the new home on Saturday, but say they have been unable to contact Washington Gas through their call center or website for five days.
After this story aired on WUSA9, Washington Gas spokesman Brian Edwards called reporter Scott Broom to say the company would contact Joanne Jackson to try to remedy his problem.
Washington Gas’s Facebook page is flooded with similar complaints and fierce criticism.
“I moved into my house 14 days ago and they still haven’t turned on the gas,” wrote a customer.
“We need help. We’re freezing and we don’t have hot water. What’s wrong with this company?” Wrote another.
Edwards said the company contacted customers who complain on Facebook to try to resolve their cases as well. He said Washington Gas is battling a slowdown in the Virginia-based contractor that handles customer service for the dealership.
“We recognize that we are not meeting our customers’ expectations at the moment,” said Edwards.
He reported that customers are waiting an average of 30 to 45 minutes to reach the customer service call center.
“Certainly COVID-19 has impacted us like other companies, but we are not using that as an excuse,” said Edwards. “It is a combination of increased calls and personnel challenges, and that combination is not a good combination. We are working to implement a virtual waiting platform so that customers can receive a callback and not have to stay on the phone. We expect to have it operational in about a month or more. “
Edwards said customers with access to a computer should try to contact the company through its online self-service portal, which he said was working well.
Jackson, however, disputes that statement.
“I put my address on their website in the exact format they asked for, and they said my address doesn’t exist,” said Jackson. “So the website isn’t even working and I know the addresses are good because I was there!”
Washington Gas says emergency calls on security issues are not affected by customer service phone problems.
More customers are dealing with financial and billing issues, which increases pressure on customer service employees and contributes to long waiting times, according to Edwards.
In October 2020, there were approximately 80,000 overdue accounts more than three months overdue, representing a 28% increase over the same period last year, according to a statement from Washington Gas.
Customers struggling with financial problems have a dedicated web portal called Washington Gas Cares that customers should use to access payment plans and other benefits, said Edwards.