If you are facing a utility shut-off, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Hotline at (617) 727-8400. The AGO may be able to provide additional information and/or mediation services to assist you in resolving your situation. You may also wish to consult your own attorney. If you decide to seek legal representation but do not have your own attorney, you may wish to contact the Massachusetts Lawyer Referral Service at (617) 654-0400.

 

Home Heating

Under certain circumstances, a gas or electric heating provider is not allowed to shut off your heat, even for non-payment. You must be unable to pay your bill because of financial hardship and certify to one of the following circumstances:

  1. Everyone in the household is over 65, or
  2. All adults living in the home are over 65 and a minor child resides in the home, or
  3. You or someone who lives in the home is seriously ill, or
  4. There is a child under the age of one living in the home.

Qualified customers should contact their energy service company and explain the situation. The company is likely to ask for a copy of the child's birth certificate or other pertinent information such as written proof of illness from a physician and/or proof of inability to pay based upon income.

There is also a winter moratorium in place every year from November 15 to March 15. During those months, gas and electric companies cannot shut off service because of an inability to pay. However, this moratorium does not apply if service was shut off for non-payment before November 15.

 

Cable Service

Cable operators are allowed to disconnect cable service for non-payment under the following conditions: (1) a subscriber's account must be considered delinquent, (2) the cable operator must give the subscriber a written termination notice, and (3) the customer must be given at least eight business days from the mailing date of the termination notice to pay the balance due. For detailed information about cable billing practices, visit the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable.

 

Water Service or Other Government-Provided Utilities

Consumers who have a billing dispute with their local water company or other Massachusetts city, town or regional public service provide should contact your local city or town hall or other government utility provider directly.