KCC launches investigation into Westar partnership

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Westar Energy has found itself back in the news again, this time it’s under investigation by the Kansas Corporation Commission.

The name of the electric service company Westar partners with is called HomeServe. Based out of Connecticut, Westar has partnered with this company since October.

“If there is damage to the meter box on the outside of their home they call HomeServe,” says Gina Penzig, spokeswoman for Westar Energy. “HomeServe works with a local contractor to come out and make those repairs for them.”

By offering this service, Westar says it is helping its customers plan for when problems arise. But customers like Cathy Pechin says it’s a scam.

A little less than a year ago Pechin says she started receiving letters in the mail addressed from Westar, saying there is important information enclosed.

She opened the letter to find it’s from HomeServe, a company she knows nothing about.

“I believe, but I am not sure, that they have sold the names and addresses of the people,” says Pechin. “The mailings are coming from Connecticut.”

And she isn’t the only homeowner to receive this letter.

This disclaimer appears on both Westar’s letterhead, and from HomeServe, “Westar energy is responsible for the service line, and the meter connecting your residence. However you are responsible for all other repairs attaches to your home.”

That’s where HomeServe steps in offering to provide that optional protection for ten-bucks a month.

“It made it sound threatening like you absolutely need it. With the older people I thought they were being taken advantage of,” says Pechin.

She’s even more upset that Westar gave her information to HomeServe in the first place.

Penzig says Westar’s right to do that is outlined in your contract, and other utilities offer it too.

“Our biggest driver in wanting to offer this, is that we have learned that other utilities when they offer a service like this to their customers saw an increase in customer satisfaction,” Penzig says.

Westar tells KSNT News that they do make a profit off of its partnership with HomeServe. But it does allow customers to “opt out”, and cancel the service with home serve at any time without an additional cost.

Westar will have 10 days to respond after it receives the complaint.

State regulators will then start their investigation into the complaint.

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