In a continuing effort to repair a strained relationship with customers, Central Maine Power Co. has begun issuing $25 credits for late or inaccurate bills and missed appointments.

The program, which CMP is calling a “customer service guarantee,” took effect last week.

The past two years have been rough for CMP, following the installation of new billing software linked to customer complaints. A Press Herald investigation found that the company mishandled the rollout of its new billing system and then attempted to downplay its mistakes.

In late January, the Maine Public Utilities Commission voted to penalize the company by cutting its earnings by $9.9 million over an 18-month period.

“Being in a position to offer this enhanced guarantee is really a milestone for CMP,” said David Flanagan, executive chairman of the company, in a prepared statement. “Through listening to our customers every day, we know some of them have lingering concerns about their bills. As we have fine-tuned our new SmartCare (billing) system, and carefully tracked customer bills, we are confident enough to put our money where our mouth is.”

CMP is a subsidiary of Avangrid, based in Connecticut. Avangrid is owned by Iberdrola, a multinational energy company based in Spain.

In addition to crediting customers $25 if a bill is late or inaccurate, CMP is promising the same amount if the company misses a scheduled service appointment without providing customers at least four hours’ notice.

Also, if CMP misses the scheduled date of a new service connection, the company will cover the delivery charge on the first month’s bill, up to $250.

The guarantee may be suspended during storms and emergencies when restoring service takes priority over other obligations, the company said.

Customers who reported and filed complaints from Nov. 1, 2017, through the end of 2019 have received more than $5 million in credits and refunds from CMP. According to CMP records, 99.94 percent of bills sent out in the first five months of 2020 were accurate and on time.

“We are holding ourselves accountable every day to continue to achieve these results,” said Flanagan, who came out of retirement in February to help his former company attempt to regain public trust.

The new program enhances a previous policy that provided $10 credits but only if a customer brought the error to CMP’s attention. CMP also hired 24 new customer service representatives and has another training class of 14 starting in July. In March, contact hours were extended by an hour to 6 p.m., rather than shutting down at 5 p.m.


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