Curious Why Citizens Energy Isn’t Answering Its Phones

By Karen Anderson, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) — Oil prices keep climbing and people need help, but they’re having trouble getting through to one source — Citizens Energy.

Citizens Energy helps a quarter of a million people stay warm each year.

But Susan in New Salem Declared her Curiosity asking, “Why is it that Joe Kennedy is constantly on TV advertizing, yet no one ever answers the phone line?”
We tried the toll free number several times and were cut off as well. So we went to get some answers.

Brian O’Connor of Citizens Energy tells us their phone operators are working as hard as they can, but that demand has skyrocketed, with cuts to federal home heating oil assistance, a bitter cold winter.

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports.

He says, “We try to help as many people as we can as quickly as we can, but we prefer to put our resources into fuel rather than fill a building with operators answering phones. People just have to be patient.”

But what about Susan’s question about the TV ads? O’Connor says they are trying to reach people who haven’t been helped by Citizens before.

Every year people must reapply, and officials say it is not an entitlement program. Citizens spends five percent of its budget on marketing. So far Citizens has given out 80 percent of its budget.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Paul Higgins says:

    Government at it’s finest! All promise and no delivery. And the beat goes on. Shame on Joe K.

    1. Cynic says:

      Fortunately the Govt doesn’t have anything to do with Citizens. If it did there would be no oil for anyone.Does anyone remember what Joe K told the Govt to do when it said they would rather that people freeze than get oil from Citgo?If I remember correctly he said thats not Politics,Thats IMHUMAN.

  2. timma says:

    poor Joe how can you expect him to get the phones working for those who need it when he only makes 500k a year

    1. Cynic says:

      timma if he does in fact earn 500K and Citenzens helps 250,000 people,2 bucks apiece seems fair.

  3. Cynic says:

    If the Government were runnig it no one would have any oil.

  4. emom says:

    did they forget to pay their phone bill, did they run out of oil, did HE WHO SHALL BE NAMELESS get to them,,… I WONDER>

  5. jaygee says:

    I’ve always believed that people who get something for nothing shouldn’t complain too much. Cold winters are a given in Ma. and if one can’t afford to heat their house, then they might consider relocating to a warmer climate. My last oil bill was $700 and nobody helped me pay for it. I have great sympathy for people who are having tough times but there are too many people in this state who want a constant handout without working for it.

    1. Susan says:

      While I agree you have a point, we are not all deadbeats. Count your blessings that you have a job or at least some source of income.

    2. Danny says:

      So I have to agree. my oil bill for January and February has totaled 600 dollars. Not a single person has helped me. As a matter of fact neither has my landlord who has admitted the oil system is broken and I shouldn’t even be paying what I am. Do you think he took money off the rent? Heck no!

      1. Susan says:

        Danny – your local board of health would take care of that problem for you.

  6. massman says:

    “People who get something for nothing shouldn’t complain too much.” This coming from a guy who paid $700 for your last oil bill. I’m going to go out on a limb, and guess that most of the people calling Citizens, are far more economically challenged than anyone who can afford a $700 oil bill. I’m hoping the poor, elderly, and disabled take your advice and move to the Caymans, instead of looking for handouts here. I’m sure they appreciate the “great sympathy” you’ve shown.

  7. zeus says:

    Joe K. is spending all the money on getting his face in front of the camara

  8. Al says:

    your completely right zeus he is a douch!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Bill says:

      I love how some are absolutely convinced that ALL those on assistance are corrupt and that gainfully employed people who do not get assistance are usually honest and decent. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

      The fact is that Citizens Energy spends only 5% of their budget on a very effective ad to reach out to people. That is a very small percentage. The pharmaceutical industry and insurance industry spend at least 30-35% of their revenue on selling you stuff that is grossly overpriced that which you usually don’t need. I guarantee that just those 2 industries are ripping off you and the government a staggering amount of money and much, much more than is being gotten by “welfare cheaters.”

      Of course we should be vigilant for those who scam the government assistance system but don’t paint everyone with a broad brush. The corporate welfare folks are very happy that most of us are only focused on the little guy.

      The Koch brothers and others are laughing at you as they load up their bank accounts at your expense.

  9. fred says:

    i used to deliver oil and while many people on assistance did indeed need help there were many who received it only because someone in the household was on public assistance and qualified while others that lived there and worked were not counted towards what the household could afford. many of these recipients lived betterand drove newer cars than many elderly on fixed incomes that could not qualify. the guy who paid $ 700.00 for his fuel may live more frugally (fewer high tech belongings, older car, saves his money). to assume that anyone who pays their bills is rich is the typical liberal mentallity- they just sacrifice and do what is right – not like many of the loafers on fuel assistance. maybe he works a part time job to help pay for his fuel. Joe K has made miilions of dollars for himself running this so called charity. i am sure he always has a full tank. the middle east in on fire, Obama fiddles and won’t drill – don’t worry the worse is yet to come.

    1. Susan says:

      Thank you Fred. The middle east holds us captive. Our entire economy runs on oil. The US just needs to talk about drilling and the price of oil drops. But they have already been promised by the current administration that this will not happen. So we get reamed! I applied for fuel assistance (for the first time ever) and would have qualified BUT because I was self-employed they don’t accept your 1040 as being accurate or honest. Instead they take a percentage of gross as your income regardless of what your expenses were. Does anyone out there know of ANY government program that is fair and NOT corrupt?

    2. Larry says:

      Why do you worry about those who may or may not receive assistance? Get over it.

    3. Larry says:

      .Typically Rush Limbaugh Conservative Right wing nut post
      I worked all my life, served my Country, and I’m now 62 years and lost my job. We are not looking for a handout, but rather a helping hand from anyone including the Government. The Constitution includes “Promote the general Welfare”
      I wish I had enough money to help those less fortunate, as I would if I could…it’s the right thing to do.Stop worrying if someone may be not be honest, and start worrying about those that rerally nead the help

  10. Mary says:

    Its all free and people run when they hear the word free for anything and i called and got through just fine so you people need to stop complaining if you get through fine if not then try and find another source to get help. And its only 100 gallons what are you guys goning to do when the 100 gallons run out i have money saved up do you

  11. BILLY says:

    STOP COMPLAINING PEOPLE! IT’S JUST 100 GALLONS.. OMGGG! WHAT ARE U GOING TO DO WHEN THAT RUNS OUT?!?! EXACTLY!

    1. Susan says:

      It will be warmer by the time it runs out. In the meantime there are still nights below zero. Hope you are staying warm Billy.

  12. Ashley says:

    I can’t stand joe

  13. Ed Hall says:

    Yeah, Joe Kennedy’s awful… the nerve, trying to help poor people! He should be executed for this awful crime!

  14. Susan says:

    I am Susan, the one who asked the question to begin with. I thought the program might be done for the season, so I wondered why the expensive TV ads were still running all the time. It was not a complaint, but an inquiry. It is a legitimate question. Clearly there is a problem of some sort if there are ads running but no way to reach them.

    I am 50 years old and have always worked hard and supported myself, and helped many others along the way. I have been trying to find work for TWO YEARS. I do not want to ask anyone for help, but am having trouble paying for even basic needs. The other night it was ZERO outside and only 38 degrees inside, so I huddled in a sleeping bag to stay warm, and called Joe4Oil. I don’t need to have my house 68-72 degrees. I am happy if it is 55 or 60 and I can bundle up.

    I tried calling Citizens Energy all last week and got a recorded message that they were busy and to call back. When I still could not get through this week, I asked WBZ to find out what is going on.

    The fact that Joe4Oil is so overwhelmed with requests is the real story. The general public appears to think that there are just a few people that are struggling and that there are all kinds of “programs” to help them. The fact is that there are way more people falling between the cracks than anyone realizes. Unless you have children, there is very little help for people. There are few jobs, especially the further from Boston that you live. The “recovery” they keep talking about is a crock.

    It is embarrassing to go public with your hardships and that is why I did not appear on camera for this story. I know there are others just like me out there suffering and struggling to get by, but humiliated by their situation.

    Trust me, I would love to “relocate”, but since I have ZERO money, that is impossible to do. I live day to day and am not homeless only because my landlord is compassionate and patient.

    To those of you asking what people will do when the 100 gallons runs out…well, I can make that 100 gallons last a long time, and as the weather gets warmer it will be easier. But for now, there are still nights that are below zero and that 100 gallons would make my quality of life much better.

    “Mary” commented that she called and got 100 free gallons even though she has “money saved up”, while mocking others who are not as fortunate. Thanks Mary, you just stole from a truly needy person. You must be so proud of yourself!

    Thank you Joe Kennedy for the help you and Citgo have provided.

    If there is anyone reading this that knows of a bookkeeping job anywhere between Greenfield and Ayer, please let me know. I just want to earn my keep.

  15. Not So Quick says:

    My issue other than the phone problem is why Citizens doesn’t have the
    applications in the offices. At least the office in Boston could help out a lot
    since it is a highly populated area.
    Major oversight.
    And to you snots that think a 100 gallons of oil (over $300) is not worth
    worrying about, get off the page.

  16. Bill says:

    THE REAL WELFARE STATE

    I love how some are absolutely convinced that ALL those on assistance are corrupt and that gainfully employed people who do not get assistance are usually honest and decent. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

    The fact is that Citizens Energy spends only 5% of their budget on a very effective ad to reach out to people. That is a very small percentage. The pharmaceutical industry and insurance industry spend at least 30-35% of their revenue on selling you stuff that is grossly overpriced that which you usually don’t need. I guarantee that just those 2 industries are ripping off you and the government a staggering amount of money and much, much more than is being gotten by “welfare cheaters.”

    Of course we should be vigilant for those who scam the government assistance system but don’t paint everyone with a broad brush. The corporate welfare folks are very happy that most of us are only focused on the little guy.

    The Koch brothers and others are laughing at you as they load up their bank accounts at your expense.

  17. big"D"® says:

    I am just trying to keep my 13 year old daughter warm. I called Joe and have a client ID number. They say the application is in the mail but I’ve been hearing that since February 8th 2011 when I applied. I’ve called several time and they just tell me it’s been sent out yet I never receive it. If it was just me I wouldn’t care but this little girl I have hasn’t asked for this mess. We keep our house at 60 during waking hours and 50 at night… Not extravagant…

  18. Joan Burgess says:

    Jan 4 2012 Try calling.and hitting redial constantly for an hour and you still cannot reach anyone. I guess having an online application would make it too easy for the client. I have tried constantly many different days and have reached the recording only every time. I am talking about hundreds of calls..

  19. wilma says:

    They’re hopelessly DISORGANIZED! Write to the home office in Boston and suggest that at least they have the applications ( listing all required documents for eligibility) posted online. They can be downloaded and mailed in. At least that eliminates the entire step of this PHONE INSANITY !!!!

  20. Sheri says:

    I have been calling since Dec 16th. 2011 and could not EVER get an answer, just the recording. I called the main Citizens office and a nice lady told me to just keep trying, they are very busy at the call center. So I kept trying EVERYDAY, mutiple times per day and at all tdiffernt times and still got a recording stating they were busy and to try again. Today I called and got a recording saying applications for this season are no longer being accepted and to try again next season. Lovely.

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