Corporate Greed By PG&E Killed My Friend’s Family And My Credit Score

PG&E San Bruno Gas Explosion

Corporate greed by PG&E killed my friend's family. It is a sad sad story.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), your San Bruno gas pipeline blast killed my friend's wife of over 20 years and his daughter in 2010.  Thousands of people depend on you for energy to heat their homes and cook their food.  How can you let this negligence happen?  Is this a case of profits before safety?  What the hell.

We have been silently grieving for the past two years, and we were healing until I get a notification from my refinance bank that you guys screwed me on my credit score due to a $7 late payment from 2009 which was never sent to my correct address.

The $7 late payment, as later explained to me was due to a “landlord service continuation fee” where I take over all PG&E charges between the time my tenants vacate the property and when a new tenant arrives.  News to me guys.


The penalty for my $7 late payment, popped up only in January of 2012 and crushed my credit score by 100 points according to one of the big three credit agencies.  Are you kidding me?  When I ask you what happened, you said that you sent notifications over mail and hired an internal collection agency to hunt me down.

Obviously, you guys are lazy as hell because the mailing address you sent returned your $7 invoice multiple times because I had moved offices.  Right there, that should be an indication that I am not there!

If you wanted to reach me, why don't you just call my mobile phone #, which has been in your records for the past 10 years! How hard is it to call my number and ask for payment?

Finally, why don't you just send the $7 bill to the very address that the power is supposedly being consumed? My new tenants would have simply let me know or forwarded me the bill within 30 days!

You didn't bother to call because you didn't want to spend your effort and resources to try and collect a $7 bill.  I know it costs you money to hire a collection agency.  Instead, you would rather take the easy route and just report my “delinquent bill” to the credit agency so that years down the road, I will call in and pay after my credit score gets smashed.


Please stop taking the easy route for profits PG&E.  Think about your customers before your profits.  Maintain your pipelines and stop being delinquent to save some money.  $70 million in restitution for the eight people who died is not enough because there are thousands more people who are worried when the next explosion will occur.  Spend whatever you can to upgrade your damn pipelines and do your job!  Don't try and pass off the upgrade costs to your customers as noted in a February, 2012 statement.

You guys are a shame.

Your former CEO in 2010, Peter Darbee made $7.34 million during the year of the blast.  Are you serious?  Your new CEO, Anthony Earley is expected to make a similar amount of money. 

How about doing the right thing and paying your leaders nothing until all the pipelines are upgraded for the safety of your customers?  How about payiing your CEO's a regular base salary and no bonus until and after you guys stop taking short cuts and hurting people's credit scores, and finances ultimately?

When in doubt, just do the right thing!

Lessons Learned Dealing With Corporate Greed

* Check your credit score annually to prevent surprises. Utility companies and many more have no problem throwing you and your credit score under the bus without giving you a legitimate chance to respond.  I now have to jump through hoops to ensure that my refinance process does not get derailed. 

I'm probably going to spend another 2 hours calling PG&E, faxing over documents, getting PG&E to remove this oversight, which they said they will and worry what the hell due to this issue. A bad mark on your credit score stays for 7 long years if you do not get this fixed!  I highly recommend it because of what corporates like PG&E can do to it!  Check your Experian credit score today. They are the most sourced of the big three.

* Make no mistake that money and more money drives action.  Corporations like PG&E and other publicly traded companies have shareholders to report to.  If they can cut corners to make more money, you better believe someone in that corporation is at least suggesting the proposal, even if lives and people's finances are at stake.  CEO Darbee's $7.34 million compensation in 2010 proves this. 

For the online community, don't be naive to think that Google isn't under tremendous pressure to make more and more money with ist $210 billion market cap.  Due to the law of large numbers, it gets harder to grow.  They will do as many algorithm updates as possible so they can optimize their profits, unfortunately at the expense of the little guy blogger.

* The mortgage refinance process takes a brutally long time nowadays.  Before the financial crisis in 2008, it took maybe 35-45 days to refinance. Now, it's taking 90-100 days on average. 90 days is unheard of, especially since I already have my existing loan with my bank, which means they have all my information already.  

They say they are backed up due to purchases, which is a good sign for the economy.  However, I don't believe them. They are just being inefficient.  I'll write a whole new post on this subject. The mortgage industry is very tight.

* If you are a landlord, always call the utility company within 30 days after your tenants leave.  Do not assume that your tenants have paid their bill in full.  All unpaid bills by your tenants will be on your head and the utility companies have no problem screwing you as I've just written.

* Look out for yourself, because not many will.  If you work at PG&E, please do everything you can to put pressure on your leaders to do the right thing and upgrade your miles and miles of pipelines.  This post is not an indictment on the everyday people who work at PG&E.  

This post is aimed strictly at the key decision makers who are making the big bucks.  People's lives are at stake.  Furthermore, if you work in the credit collection agency, your rules are archaic.  Try harder to reach people who owe you money and stop taking short cuts!  Do you really think people would sacrifice a 100 credit score hit for an $7 bill?  Please try harder.

Note: The PG&E explosion occurred on Sept. 9, 2010, when a natural gas pipeline constructed in 1956 ruptured, sending a plume of fire into the neighborhood for almost 95 minutes before the gas was shut off. Eight people died, dozens were hurt and 38 homes were destroyed.

The disaster also raised fears nationally about the safety of 150,000 miles of natural gas pipelines that were built before 1970 and exempted from pressure testing, which made it difficult to assess their integrity. Corporate greed still runs rampant today. Corporate greed has caused PG&E to go bankrupt.


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Photo: PG&E San Bruno Gas Pipeline Explosion.

23 thoughts on “Corporate Greed By PG&E Killed My Friend’s Family And My Credit Score”

  1. I have a few questions pg&e is trying to hold me responsible for a bill that wasn’t under my name I was simply a room mate in the household bill never got paid & eventually shut off so now that I’ve moved out I can’t start pg&e in my name until the bill at the previous address is paid. Please help??!?

  2. Sam, I completely understand your frustrations. I had an 800+ score until someone stole my identity a few years ago. A couple fraudulent charges and it dropped significantly. I’ve been filling police reports and faxing documents all over the place for the past 3 years. As of today, I’m told the last remaining hold-out finally removed the charge-off from their books…..only 3 or 4 more months before the credit bureaus reflect it. How ridiculous is that? I’ve frozen everything now so it helps a bit, but makes it pain to use my credit for anything. Anyway, I feel your pain.

  3. Sorry to hear about all that; especially the deaths. Blogs can be an excellent medium for spreading this sort of thing and holding businesses accountable.

    I too once had an issue with my credit score and a tiny bill. Fortunately the collecting agency got in touch with me before it damaged the credit, but otherwise it would have. That was years ago, and I began taking more notice of my credit score after that.

  4. Thanks everyone for the well wishes so far. It’s really needed for my friend who lost his family. I cannot imagine and every time I see him on the tennis court I think about this tragedy.

    I hope PG&E can just show they are doing everything they can to safeguard the pipelines to prevent such a disaster from happening again, and stop being so reckless with people’s financial lives.

    Take down everyone’s mobile number and e-mail and try at least 3 times and leave 3 messages before over a several month period before slaughtering your client’s credit scores.

  5. Paul Parmley

    Hi Sam – this is Paul Parmley from PG&E. I reached out to you yesterday via Twitter in the hopes of resolving this issue for you. Could you please send your account/contact info to I have a colleague ready to give you a call to figure this out. Many thanks.

    1. Hi Paul, thanks for reaching out. I will contact the e-mail address if my resolution does not go through this week. You gives have said you would send a zero invoice and a “clear letter credit” in the mail, removing this blight on my credit. I’m just waiting to get the forms so I can send to my bank to get the refinance moving again.

  6. The CEO getting paid $7 million + that year is a HUGE slap in the face of all of us here in the Bay Area. It shows no sense of empathy or connection with the people who were affected. The entire city of San Bruno was walking on egg shells for the entire year.

    As a monopoly, they need to go above and beyond to protect their customers, not below and near.

  7. Terrible story! Wow.

    Is there another provider you can even use? To give it to them where it hurts, their bottom line?

  8. Sam, this reminds me about Union Carbide disaster that happened in India while I was in college. It killed thousands of people, and UC still hasn’t taken care of so many poor families, especially those young kids who lost their parents. Corporate responsibility ought to be first towards safety and well-being of very people they serve.

  9. When I saw that fire on the news, it smelled of negligence. They should be checking their pipeline routinely. a personal connection just makes it worse. It must be a nightmare for your friend.

    Deadbeat by default is the worst kind of issue. 25+ years ago, a department store made a mistake and charged off a bill on me and it took 8 months to fix. The worst part is they never took responsibility for the mistake. There is no way, I did not pay my bills so I know the charge off was a mistake.

  10. What a horrible story! I was in the bad mood to start with, now I am feeling not just awful but disgusted. I am SO sorry to hear about your friend. No words can heal, only time (I hope.)
    $7 and 100 points loss?! WTF?!

    1. And for 7 years on your record if you don’t rectify the situation, which is what I’m doing. Trust me, I am raising hell, and everybody from PG&E is contacting me now to fix.

      I hope they can just keep e-mails and records on file and send out warnings this way. This is 2012 PG&E! Hello!

  11. This Aggie Saves

    I’m sorry for your loss.

    It really is important to keep track of your credit score… I started checking mine in 2007, found some inaccuracies and now have a score 100 points higher.

  12. Sorry to hear about your friend. That’s why I dislike corporations more and more. Everything is profit driven. You 100 point loss due to $7 is crazy. I need to check my credit and make sure I don’t have anything like that on my record. My refi went through pretty quickly in less than 30 days. I went with Quicken Loans, but wasn’t able to get the best rate due to my LTV.

  13. Dollar Disciple

    Wow, I’m really sorry for your loss. There’s definitely a lack of accountability until something horrible happens.

    Why is any pipeline “exempt from pressure testing” at all? If it’s because they are so old, then they should be replaced before more people get hurt!

  14. Bryan at Pinch that Penny!

    As part of my last job, I used to work with reps from PG&E on a daily basis. Without saying too much, your experience above is not very surprising to me.

  15. Untemplater

    Sorry for your loss Sam. I remember that explosion clearly and was in total shock that they could let something like that happen. There are plenty of other scary PGE stories in SF. Several of those underground areas covered by pge grates have had explosions with huge flames blasting up and out of them. Hence I never walk on top of them bc you just never know!!!

    And man sorry to hear about that awful billing mixup you have to deal with. I had to fight ATT a few years back and a credit agency too who totally f’d things up when I changed service providers. Hope you get it sorted out soon. Hang in there!

    1. Yep, one never knows. I remember two manhole cover explosions too. It’s like we got ticking time bombs in our area.

      I just can’t believe the CEO got $7.3 million that year as well. Ridiculous!

  16. Sunil l Expedited Wealth Building through Entrepreneurship

    what a shame. maybe they will do something (as much as they can in the present) if enough similar chatter goes around the web….the power of “crowd sourcing”

  17. Sam, I am so very sorry for the loss of your friends. That is hard enough under any circumstances, but outrageous if caused by a company’s cutting corners on safely to make a larger profit.
    On a lighter note – you are starting to sound like me! :) I used to think the world was a place where, in general, companies tried to do the “right thing”. Maybe the fact that I was younger and naive was part of it, but I also believe the world has become a greedier place. What made this clear to me was a situation I have mentioned before about Chase Bank, when they tried to unilaterally change the terms of a balance transfer to half a million people, including me. (I have a low percentage “for the life of the loan”. They tried to tack on a $10 monthly charge on top of that – not a change in interest rate, they claimed – as well as raise the minimum payment.) In the end, I won, but Chase totally lost my respect, and I’m sure you will forever feel that way about PG&E.

    I hope you get your credit score fixed. I’m sorry that nothing can bring your friends back.

    1. So many companies lose my respect the more I investigate everyday. Everything is so profit driven b/c of shareholders and competition. What’s worse, PG&E i a monopoly.

      I will fight for my credit score and fix it til the very end. PG&E reached out to me after this post was published, and I will take them up on their offer if I lose my own war with someone else there.

    2. sorry about your $7 late payment and the 100 points off your credit score… the grand scheme of things, big freaking deal. Your friends were killed… a greedy, self insured monopoly who values life according to dollars and cents…let me explain….a 20 year old college senior who is knocking it out of the park in her bio engineering degree is worth (according to PGE) $1,250,000. Now if she was married or had kids, that value would be different. You would have to ask pge for that number. If pge paid for insurance, these accidents by pge…you know, the ones that take lives? These accidents probably would not happen because the insurance company would make sure pge exercised the utmost in safety or the insurance carrier would raise their rates…like they would if you get too many tickets..right? But since pge has deep pockets and can self insure and then can decide how much the body is worth, they save money by just paying off the dead’s family at whatever the going rate is…next time you have a person of knowledge in front of you….like maybe a personal injury or wrongful death lawyer, ask them how much YOU are worth if pge accidently kills YOU thru their own negligence…you might be surprised. Oh yea….good luck with credit score…..should not be too hard to fix…not like what happened to your “friends”…..

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