Protection For The Home Or Another Monthly Bill?

PSEG bills

A PSEG maintenance plan that promises “worry-free living” is instead causing a lot of consternation.

“In order to help you be prepared in the event of exterior electric emergency beyond the utility responsibility, PSEG WorryFree has entered into a relationship with HomeServe,” PSEG Long Island told its customers via a mailing last month.

Stripped of the rhetoric, that means higher electric bills — the cheapest plan costs $5.87 per month, and will go up after the first year. For that, consumers get insurance in the event of “electrical breakdown on your property.”

The problem is, most folks think the utility pays for many of the repairs it now wants to charge users for.

Not so, said Myles Meehan, a senior vice president for HomeServe. “Nothing has changed,” he said, a utility’s liability extends from “the pole to the house” — the so-called “service drop.”

But Meehan says all the wiring on the house itself, and the meter, are the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain and replace.

Though PSEG is just starting the service on Long Island, New Jersey’s HomeServe commitment is in full force, and complaints are rolling in: “PSEG WorryFree’s contract is a total ‘rip off,’ and I strongly suggest you not buying from them,” an online comment on the company’s website reads. “I will also start looking around to see if I can buy electricity from other suppliers.”

“This is totally optional for homeowners,” Meehan pointed out. “The idea is to introduce the option. It is an annual plan, but you can cancel at any time.”

A typical homeowner will save during the life of a plan. The weatherhead where the electricity wire comes into the house costs an average of $266 to replace; a meter base goes for $405, according to company literature.

But there are limitations — PSEG-WorryFree will only pay out a maximum $5000 per year, meaning major breakdowns will still mean out-of-pocket expenses. And a 12-month contract won’t kick in until after the first month, to cut down on preexisting problems.

“We don’t do pre-inspections, and we don’t know the condition of the property,” Meehan said. In addition, all work is guaranteed and only licensed contractors are used.

Consumers who like the product might find HomeServe to be a valuable tool. In other states, the company also offers HVAC servicing and appliance repairs.

Others say companies like Sears are more reliable.

“PSEG’s WorryFree contact is a worry-free revenue stream for PSEG,” one user wrote on the company website. “Not worry-free for the customer.”

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