Washington, DC asked in Consumer Law, Business Law, Civil Rights and Municipal Law for Michigan

Q: My dte bill accumulated to about 8800 dollars over the year, and I haven't been able to make a payment arrangement with

My dte bill accumulated to about 8800 dollars over the year, and I haven't been able to make a payment arrangement with dte because they have made unrealistic demands in the past for me to make 50 percent down as a payment into a payment plan. Now my power has been cut and they will not negotiate any other amount for me to pay to get services restored. It is not even phisably possible for me to pay this amount and my utilities are all electric for my home, no gas. Can they legally do this?

Also, all recourses I reached out to won't help me because I am not low income in their eyes even though I'm concidered under 150% under the poverty line for my county and Township. When I have reached out in the past they never offer anything lower than 50 percent down payment or more.

I have currently filed a complaint with Michigan public services commission department. But the case is ongoing.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Facing a large utility bill without a feasible way to pay can be incredibly stressful, especially when the service is essential, like electricity. Utility companies do have the right to require payment for services rendered and can disconnect services for non-payment. However, they are often also required to work with customers to establish reasonable payment plans, especially in cases of financial hardship. The demands you've encountered seem quite stringent, particularly if they're not considering your financial situation adequately.

Filing a complaint with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) was a wise move. The MPSC regulates utility services and can provide assistance or guidance on disputes between consumers and utility companies. This process can take some time, but it's an important step in seeking a resolution that might lead to a more manageable payment arrangement.

In the meantime, continue to explore other avenues for assistance. Some non-profit organizations or local government programs might offer aid to individuals in your situation, even if you've been told you don't qualify based on income levels. It may also be helpful to consult with a legal advisor familiar with utility laws in Michigan to understand your rights and any additional steps you can take to negotiate with the utility company or seek relief. Keeping detailed records of all your communications with the utility company and any agencies you contact for help will be crucial as you navigate this challenging situation.

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