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Being a Monopoly Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

The first floor of our two-family house has been vacant since August. The gas furnace and water heater for the first floor have been off all winter. I've been dutifully sending in meter reading cards for several months, and Laclede Gas has just as dutifully been ignoring them and continuing to charge us $200+ each month based on the estimated usage of the previous tenant.

I repeatedly tried to call their billing number today (314-621-6960) to get the issue resolved. It rang busy for ten minutes. That's the same number you're supposed to call to report a gas odor or other emergency. When I finally got through, I went through their phone system maze and waited on hold for 12 minutes to talk to a customer service representative. Then their phone system unexpectedly hung up on me. After waiting for 22 minutes, I never even got to talk to anybody.

Anybody else have any utility "service" stories they'd like to share?

Update: I called Laclede Gas again today (4/8) at 1:38 p.m. After navigating through their menu of options and entering my account number, the pleasant female robo-voice said that the waiting time was 20 minutes and asked if I'd like to have them call me back when a customer service representative was available. Since they said I wouldn't lose my place in the queue, I hit "1" for "yes" and hung up. At 2:32 p.m. (almost an hour later), I got an automated callback. When instructed, I hit the button to talk to a customer service representative. I heard a series of beeps, and then their phone system hung up on me. Again. The saga continues ...

Posted under Other by Brian Marston on Thu., Apr 7, 2005 at 5:06 PM


I have found Laclede Gas to be the most incompetent group of individuals I have run across during our rehab. When they came out to turn on our gas, the guy said that I had a bad furnace (which was brand new). After looking at the valve on the line into the furnace and wondering which direction indicated the line was open, I asked him. "Oh, forgot to turn the valve on!". THIS IS WHAT YOU DO FOR A LIVING!!!

They then proceeded to sleep in their truck for about 3 1/2 hours. Amazing. And I have chosen to highlight only ONE incident out of several.


[Posted by Nate Sprehe on Thu., Apr 7, 2005 at 5:46 PM]

It was a year after the meter was installed that they first read it. They'd "estimated" roughly twice as much as actual and I had a few hundred USD coming. But they insisted on having my Social Security number to write a check. Given other "service" snafus, I did not try to resolve it with them but turned to the Missouri Public Service Commission. Even when I appeared at Laclede's downtown office with identification in-hand, I was turned away. Yet another call to the PSC. Laclede then called, sent a letter, and cut the check - in the next billing cycle, weeks later.

[Posted by Rick on Thu., Apr 7, 2005 at 6:04 PM]

I have just moved to STL and have struck the tip of the "Laclede Iceberg."
I closed on my house on May 1st and called Laclede to change the gas acct over to my name. They said they had to set up a visit by a technician for a meter reading. I explained that I was still working in Alabama and couldn't be present to let anyone in the house. I ended up compromising and carving out half a day on May 3rd to wait for the tech. I sat in an empty house for five hours and he never showed before I HAD to depart for the airport for my flight out.
I called customer service on my drive to the airport and explained the situation and that I thought it would be fair for them to waive the $36 hook up fee for my inconvenience. The service rep practically laughed me off the phone.
I responded with an e-mail to cust service with a courtesy copy to the STL Better Business Bureau. I got another call back from Laclede and the cust svc rep told me--get this--I had one of the automated meters and never even NEEDED to have a tech come out for a meter reading!
That brings us to the present, and the bill I received for gas usage during the month of May. They tried to charge me $72 for gas usage in a house where no one was living and the pilot light on the water heater wasn't even on and the heat was turned off!
I called cust svc yet again. I spoke with Martha--possibly the only competent employee at Laclede. She first tried to sell me the line about how the usage is an estimate and, oh by the way, I needed to have a tech come out for a meter reading! After I explained that I had been previously told I had the automated meter, she put me on hold AGAIN and came back with the following info:
My current bill showed a previous reading of 5741 and a present reading of 5792. When Martha came back on the line, she explained that the remote reading that was taken on my meter on June 17th was 5737--4 therms less than my supposed "previous reading!!!!" Unbelievable!
The moral of this story: Don't take those readings at face value and even if you have the new, automated meter it doesn't guarantee that Laclede is using it to calculate your bill.

[Posted by Kim J on Tue., Jun 20, 2006 at 11:14 AM]

Where can I begin?


When I received a bill for $319.85 for three weeks of service in the period from 11/16/06 to 12/18/06 (my furnace was shut off for about 8 days because of daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s) I took the trouble of trying to understand my bill.

I supposedly was charged for 272.2 therms at an average cost
of .98350 per therm = $267.71. Added to that was city tax of $12.79 for what appeared to be a bill of $280.50.

When I asked customer service (?) why a discrepancy of $39.35, I was told there were other charges not listed on the bill. She refused to use the term of hidden charges. I asked for a supervisor. In due time a Mr. Link called and said that I could review a detailed bill on the Laclecde web site. However, I discovered that you can only view your bill online if you subscribed to Checkfree and agreed to pay your bill online through Checkfree; I presume for a fee.

This is unacceptable. I had been paying a budget amount being deducted from my bank checking account monthly, why pay a fee to view my bill?

SECOND PROBLEM: In August of 2006, I requested I be taken off Budget Billing and canceled the bank deduction. After paying two rather low bills of $47.71 and $58.18 by individual check mailed in; suddenly, my checking account was debited by Laclede to get the recent bill of $319.85. This was an unauthorized debit.

The saga continues. I guess my next move is to contact PSC in Jefferson City.

[Posted by Arnold Traubitz on Sun., Jan 7, 2007 at 1:32 PM]

After calculating my current bill, using the figures on my bill, I found that the amount billed was almost $20.00 more than what I calculated.

I called Laclede Gas to request help in understanding this discrepancy and was told that they would send me an explanation for my bill and any charges.

I was also told that my bill included a monthly charge of $15.00 (not itemized on the bill) for a service charge IN CASE I needed to have any work done. I don't know if this was supposed to be for work on my property or work in the street. Apparently, according to this CSR at Laclede, every household in the City of St. Louis is being charged this fee with no explanation on the bill. This amounts to about $180.00 per year per household, not for work done but for work that might need to be done. Is this supposed to be some kind of insurance and do I get a choice whether I want to take this insurance or not? Apparently not! Another money making scheme by Laclede Gas.

[Posted by Mary Hazard on Thu., Jul 24, 2008 at 8:24 AM]

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