TORONTO -- Ontario's crusading ombudsman will investigate Hydro One's billing and customer service practices after receiving hundreds of complaints from customers.
Andre Marin said he was stonewalled while trying to get answers for members of the public about excessive, delayed or inaccurate bills.
"That's why my heart goes out to those average citizens who try to take on the Goliath that is Hydro One," Marin said Tuesday, comparing the process to wrestling with a "slippery pig."
The Special Ombudsman Response Team (SORT) will focus on the publicly owned utility's billing system and how it responds to concerns raised by customers.
Marin said his office has received more than 600 complaints about Hydro One since April 1, including some from vulnerable people who face significant financial hardship as a result of their dealings with the electricity distribution company.
Hydro One clients have told the ombudsman about receiving skyrocketing "estimated" bills despite having smart meters in place.
"We are hearing from the public that they are quite prepared to be socially re-engineered as electrical trained seals doing their laundry at certain times to avoid excessive billing but on the other hand, they want to be able to understand their billing, they want accuracy in their billings," Marin said.
Customers with automatic bank withdrawal have been shocked to find Hydro One has removed $10,000 to $20,000 from their accounts, sometimes mistakenly, he said.