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'Why is my bill so high?' | San Diegans frustrated with high SDG&E bills say they can't get in touch with company to complain

“I just think this whole process is ridiculous,” said Barbara Grcar.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — For weeks, CBS 8 has been reporting on SDG&E’s rates going up and some people say their bills have more than doubled.

Now, we're hearing when you try calling the company to complain, it's difficult to get through.

“I just think this whole process is ridiculous,” said Barbara Grcar.

The San Diego resident called SDG&E to ask questions about her most recent bill.

"My typical bill around this time of year is a $100, and it came in around a little over $150," said Grcar.

Grcar says she spent 30 minutes trying to navigate their automated system, but ultimately gave up, saying she couldn't speak to a person or find what she wanted.

"There's an option you can take on their automated phone bank that allows you to go into your bills and payments but it's just you can't ask why is it so high?"

On SDG&E's website, there is an alert regarding higher than normal call volumes, suggesting customers use its online services instead.

Grcar says that didn't work for her either.

“Yeah. They don't fit. They don't fit this type of a question. Why is my bill so high?"

Grcar sent CBS 8 an email about her ordeal with a challenge: "Try it. You will see what I am talking about."

CBS 8 reporter Shannon Handy gave it a shot. Her first two attempts didn't go so well. The line disconnected.

Then, she had trouble figuring out what numbers to push to get to an actual person.

After several attempts, she found the right combination:

  1. Call 1(800) 411-7343
  2. Push 3 for ‘Residential’
  3. Then 1 for ‘Billing’
  4. Followed by 4 for ‘Lower my bills’
  5. Finally, Shannon said "I want to talk to a person" over and over until it clicked.

Initially, she was told her hold time would be 40 minutes. It ended up being one hour and five minutes, at which point, someone did pick up the phone.

A spokesperson for SDG&E apologized for the long wait times, saying:

"SDG&E strives to ensure every customer interaction is a positive experience. We appreciate our customers' patience as we work to reduce wait times."

Adding, like others, they too are dealing with staffing challenges, but have hired more employees to address the problem.

SDG&E maintains depending on what time of day you call, wait times are often shorter, and the majority of things customers call about can be handled online.

After CBS 8 contacted the company, they posted a link on their website explaining to customers why the wait time is so long, and once again, urging them to use online services.

However, if a customer wants to dispute a bill, the only way to do that is to talk to someone in person.

"So, there's nothing really set up in terms of customer service to speak to the community when there's a problem," said Grcar.

After CBS 8 reached out to SDG&E, they posted a new link on their website further explaining the rate increase, and detailing why wait times have been so long.

One of the biggest contributing factors to the higher rates is a natural gas shortage, which has risen prices by nearly 25%.

WATCH RELATED: Breaking down SDG&E bills; why are they so high? (January 2022)

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