Gas, electric, and even some water companies have Customer Assistance Programs. These programs are usually available to low-income customers who are experiencing financial hardships and are unable to pay the full monthly bill.
Let’s discuss some things to keep in mind when talking with your utility company.
Above All Else, Be Polite
While dealing with the stress of financial hardships, it can sometimes be easier to lash out than to ask for help. In the case of talking to your utility company, it will be important to keep a level head and politely ask for assistance. They will send you a financial hardship form and instructions on what steps to take next.
The person on the phone is not responsible for the high rate of energy or the cost of last month’s bill. But they are standing between you and the help you need, so treat them as an ally and not an enemy.
Have Your Info Ready
You will need to answer some basic questions when you get ready to discuss getting financial assistance from your utility company. Have the information you need to answer any questions that may come up readily available. This will save you the stress of being caught off-guard and losing focus while hunting down last month’s paycheck stub in the bottom of a desk drawer.
Any Agreement You Reach Must Be Affordable
While the utility company would prefer to get paid in full each month, they understand this is not always possible, and have programs in place to ensure you don’t lose your heat or gas in the middle of winter. It is not in your interest or theirs to come to an agreement that is still outside of your ability to pay.
Be honest with them about what you can afford, and don’t agree to more than you can manage on a monthly basis. Be clear about your needs and upfront about your expectations.
Don’t Let a Problem Become a Crisis
If you are facing financial hardship, it is important to take control of the situation before it gets too big. Once they shut the power off, you are looking at massive reconnection fees on top of what you already owe, and the process of dealing with the company will become more and more complicated.
Contact your utility company to discuss their customer assistance program and educate yourself on the requirements you will need to meet in order to qualify.
Ask About Other Forms of Relief
There are many different forms of relief for customers facing financial hardships. These can include programs funded directly by the utility company as well as financial assistance programs offered by the state. You may qualify for one program even if you do not meet the requirements for another. You should pursue all avenues of relief available to you.
Be sure to ask the representative if they know of other assistance programs you may qualify for.
How Can CreditGUARD Help?
If you are struggling with overwhelming credit debt and unsure how to proceed, give CreditGUARD a call today. While we don’t work on your utility’s accounts, our certified credit counselors can give you the help you need and take the first steps toward a new financial future free from credit card debt.