Dominion East Ohio: an unwitting accomplice?

Dominion East Ohio Gas is a trustworthy company. Do not be so sure when buying their water heater repair and replacement plan for $4.95 a month. You may end up spending more than if you hired a private plumber.

The plan shows you receive $750 of protection a year. But, when phoning to find out what “a year” meant, three different answers were given on three different phone calls: #1 said $750 per calendar year; #2 said $750 per year from the contract date and #3 said $750 per occurrence.

Is this important? Dominion does not do the work, but contracts an independent company. The contract company will bill you when their labor and materials charges exceed the $750 limit. Once over the $750 limit, you are obligated to pay their rates.

This happened to a UH resident; be careful it does not happen to you:

You phone for service. The contract company plumber arrives and says he already checked your record. Since you had a service call over a year ago with a problem, they charged your account $300. You used $300 of the $750 warranty leaving you only $450 in your account.

The plumber decides you need a new tank, which costs $750 with installation. But, since your account has only $450 left, you will have to pay the additional $300 for the work to be completed.

You do not think the plumber is correct. You know you should not pay. But a hot water tank problem is an emergency. You are pressed for time, stressed, and finally assume Dominion East Ohio has correct information. So you write a check for $300.

Regardless of how Dominion defines the “year,” calendar or contract, you still have the $750 in your account. You do not owe a dime. But you fell for it anyway. You were talked into giving away $300.

The person this happened to questioned the plumber and would not agree to the additional $300 bill by the contractor. But then, it was not an emergency. The plumber left and phoned back a few days later to say the customer was right.

A Dominion manager was eventually contacted. Dominion said the additional $300 was related to something else, not the amount in the account. Dominion also explained as long as they replace the gas tank with a comparable size, they could do it with the cheapest tank made.

Also unusual for Dominion, documentation or receipts for the work completed is not provided to the customer at the time of service, or in this case, ever. Without a receipt, the warranty on the tank is based on the date the tank was manufactured, not the date of installation in your home.

As consumers, we need to find out what the plan covers and how it works. And, Dominion may need to review how its contractors are actually implementing what, originally, sounded like a good idea for its customers.

Anita Kazarian is a resident of University Heights and enjoys being an active citizen.
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Volume 1, Issue 9, Posted 3:24 PM, 10.31.2008