I-TEAM Neighborhood Nuisance: Toledo Edison customers call for policy change
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A blown Toledo Edison transformer caused thousands of dollars in damages and the people affected say the company isn’t making things right.
“We had called two weeks prior to it blowing, letting them know that there were sparks coming from it, and that we thought someone needed to come out and take care of that right away,” said Shelly Wend, one of the affected neighbors. “They didn’t come. So, after it blew, we all on this block had major issues.”
The transformer blew in an Oregon neighborhood on Oct. 13. Afterwards, Wend organized her neighbors and contacted 13 Action News for help holding Toledo Edison accountable.
“They knew we were going to speak with you, so they did respond,” said Wend. “But we don’t think that what they responded with is what we deserve.”
More than a month later, Wend and her neighbors are still unimpressed with Toledo Edison’s response.
“Actually, I was told on the phone by the claims department to tell [13 Action News] that they did not go above and beyond, and that they were okay with that,” said Wend.
One neighbor, Tim Keefe, paid $8,000 to replace all his damaged electronics and appliances.
“I submitted all of that to Toledo Edison, and they basically came back with an offer where they would pay the cost of repairs, but they would not pay the cost of replacement,” said Keefe.
A Toledo Edison representative says it’s the company’s policy to repair damaged appliances, unless replacing is less expensive.
“In one instance, a resident opted to replace their damaged appliances independently instead of allowing us to cover the repair expenses, which were less than the cost of new units,” said a representative with Toledo Edison. “In this case, we reimbursed the customer for the amount it would have cost to repair the damaged units.”
Keefe says waiting for repairs wasn’t an option.
“The time frame in order to repair it, by the time they got parts and everything, was going to be too long to wait. So, I got new. Consequently, I end up about $3,000 short,” said Keefe. “I feel like they can do better. This is another case of the big company just sticking it to the little guy, and since they’re the power company, they hold all the power. We don’t have any power. Except we have our voices.”
13 Action News I-Team Reporter Sophie Bates met with the neighbors back in October. She followed up to find out what this community can do to hold Toledo Edison accountable.
The neighbors can make their voices heard through Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission. A representative said they can file complaints, and the commission will attempt to settle the dispute. If that doesn’t work, they can also file a formal complaint, which is akin to a lawsuit.
We understand how frustrating this situation has been for affected customers, and our claims representative is actively working with them to resolve the issue. We quickly arranged for an appliance repair company to visit the affected customers’ homes within a day or two to assess the damaged equipment and determine if repairs or replacements were necessary.
If the repair costs turned out to be higher than buying a new appliance, Toledo Edison covered 100% of the cost to replace it with a comparable unit. However, in one instance, a resident opted to replace their damaged appliances independently instead of allowing us to cover the repair expenses, which were actually less than the cost of new units. In this case, we reimbursed the customer for the amount it would have cost to repair the damaged units.
“On the one hand, he says that he agrees with me, feels my frustration,” Keefe said of a Toledo Edison claims representative. “On the other hand, he’s not going to pay anymore money. He says that this is the policy of the company. So, maybe the policy needs to change.”
If there is a property in your community that has become a neighborhood nuisance, reach out to Sophie Bates on social media or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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