A “Consumer Complaint” is a complaint about utility service quality or bills. Such complaints can be filed by anyone who is receiving or entitled to receive service. Consumer complaints can be filed against any Vermont utility regulated by the Board that provides electric, natural gas, telecommunications, or cable television service.
A consumer complaint may be made against a company subject to Board supervision based on any claim of an unlawful act or neglect that adversely affects the consumer.
Complaints can include a request for a refund of utility charges. Additionally, complaints may be filed to demonstrate that a utility is not complying with applicable rates, statutes, rules, or orders.
If you want to report a service-quality problem or a billing dispute involving a Vermont utility, you can contact the Board directly or contact the Department of Public Service (Department). Consumers are strongly encouraged first to seek help from the Department prior to seeking help from the Board. The Department operates a Consumer Affairs and Public Information (CAPI) Division, the sole purpose of which is to assist consumers with utility-related issues. CAPI staff can provide consumers advice and information to try to resolve disputes directly with the utility. The Department will also work with consumers and utilities to try to resolve disputes informally.
If the Department is unable to informally resolve a consumer dispute, or if a consumer is not satisfied with the resolution reached by the Department, a formal complaint can be filed with the Board. Consumers can also file a complaint directly with the Board at any time.
Content of Complaints
You can file a complaint directly with the Board using ePSB, the Board’s electronic filing and case management system. To do so:
- Log into ePSB
- Select “Consumer Complaint” in the left navigation
- Fill out the online form
- Click the “Proceed” button to submit your complaint
When filing a written complaint with the Board, it would be helpful for the Board to have the following information:
- Utility company name
- Description of the problem
- Customer service address
- Complainant’s requested resolution
- Any documents that will help the Board review the complaint
After receiving and reviewing your complaint, the Board will contact the affected utility for a response and will also review the Department’s efforts to resolve the matter. The Board will then either open a formal proceeding or contact you with an explanation as to why no formal proceeding will be opened concerning your complaint.
If a formal proceeding is opened, the Board will act as a court that hears evidence and issues an order that decides the dispute.
If your dispute concerns your inability to pay your bill, then please be aware that neither the Department nor the Board provides direct financial assistance for bill payment. However, the Department has a Payment Assistance page on its website that provides customers with information on a variety of state programs to help consumers who may be facing financial barriers when establishing, maintaining, or restoring utility service.
Board Rule 2.300 provides detailed information on how consumer complaints will be handled by the Board.
The Board does not handle consumer complaints regarding propane companies, fuel oil companies, satellite providers, municipal water companies, or fire districts. If your consumer complaint concerns:
- A propane company or fuel oil dealer, please contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program, (800) 649-2424
- A satellite provider, please contact the Federal Communications Commissioner’s Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau, (888) 225-5322
- A municipal water company or a fire district, please contact your town or fire district directly