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Double trouble: Glitch leads to bigger Nicor bills for thousands

The Bloomington Pantagraph reports that some 7,000 Nicor Gas customers on automatic payment plants were mistakenly charged double from June 13-15.

Do you have your Nicor bill paid automatically out of your bank account? The gas utility recommends checking your bank account or calling Nicor, at 1-888-642-6748. Those who incurred bank overcharge fees can call 1-800-794-1630.

Nicor, which serves about 2.2 million customers in the northern third of Illinois, says most of the people affected have been contacted by phone or email, and it promises to reimburse all of them.

Although CUB’s archives are filled with consumer complaints about automatic payment glitches, the problems are usually individual issues—not widespread like this. We recommend a few tips to keep an eye on the utilities:

  • Even if you’re on an auto-pay plan you should still be receiving a bill monthly (either online or paper) that states how much will be deducted from your account and when. Check to see that the amount makes sense and the date corresponds with when you will have the funds in your account, so as to avoid overdraft fees.
  • Make sure the previous month’s payment is properly marked on your bill—with the correct amount and date. Make sure you didn’t incur late-payment charges.
  • Ask your bank if it has additional protections, such as limits to how many times and how much a utility can deduct from your account automatically per month.
  • If your phone accepts text messages—take advantage of getting text notifications when the utility deducts from your account.