Overpayment on gas bill causes headache

Mount Prospect man seeks refund of nearly $1,200 from Nicor

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By the time Peter McNamara discovered his mistake, it was too late.

The Mount Prospect resident paid his Nicor Gas bill online April 12 but didn't notice he had entered an extra number until days later, when he saw a large debit from his bank account.

Instead of paying $134.64, he had paid $1,324.64 — $1,190 extra.

McNamara said he immediately called Nicor and asked for a refund.

Nicor told him he could receive a credit for the $1,190, which he took to mean a credit on his account, he said. McNamara said he was told to contact his bank to see if it could reverse the payment.

He then called the bank, which told him it was too late: The payment had been processed.

Unsure what to do next, he emailed What's Your Problem?

McNamara said he has no use for a $1,190 credit to his account.

"It's like a year's worth of gas," he said. "They said it's already posted to the account, and they can't refund it. There must be somebody higher up who can make a decision to issue a refund."

He said getting the money refunded is important, as his expenses will soon rise.

"I'm getting ready to send my son to college this year," he said.

The Problem Solver called Annette Martinez, a Nicor spokeswoman.

Martinez said her team listened to a recording of McNamara's call in mid-April, and she thinks he might have misunderstood what the customer service agent was saying.

Martinez said the Nicor representative told McNamara that the utility would issue him a credit for $1,190, meaning it would send him a check.

"He might have been confused by the word 'credit,'" Martinez said.

When McNamara called Nicor, it was only days after his payment had been posted. Martinez said the gas company cannot issue refunds until 30 days after a payment, because payments can take up to a month to fully process.

For McNamara to receive a check for $1,190, he should have made the request after the 30-day processing period had ended, Martinez said.

The spokeswoman said that after the Problem Solver forwarded McNamara's information, Nicor began the process of issuing a refund check.

"He should see the check by or even maybe a little before May 15," Martinez said.

McNamara said he is grateful that his money will be returned.

"That sounds good," he said.

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