Elderly Woman’s Heat Shut Off, Hit With $44,000 Peoples Gas Bill

CHICAGO (CBS) — She was told Peoples Gas needed to replace her meter. That’s where her nightmare began. Her gas was cut off and, on Wednesday, she got a new bill for more than $44,000, accused of stealing gas.

CBS 2’s Pamela Jones went looking for answers.

“I don’t have that kind of money, I don’t have it,” Annie Morish said of her gas bill for $44,206.82. “I guess I’m just going to stay here until I freeze.”

Without heat, Morish sits dressed in layers, facing a cold future with a gigantic gas bill, payable by March 1.

“They’ve got to be crazy. I called them and they told me it had to be paid,” Morish said.

She said she’s been without heat for two weeks, ever since Peoples Gas came to install a new gas meter at her two-flat on the South Side.

Without gas service, the thermostat in her home registered at 55 degrees on Wednesday, only a little warmer than it was outside.

Morish said the company removed her old gas meter, accusing her of stealing gas.

“I’m 70 years old. When did I dig up? When did I go down in the basement and … change some pipes?” Morish said.

She said she was never cited for any theft.

For now, she tends to her dying plants, with space heater after space heater running to warm the place; about 10 of them in all.

“Freezing; I’m staying in the back. I’ve got heaters all over the place,” she said, hoping someone can help her. “How am I going to get some heat in here?”

Morish said she has been paying $100 to $150 a month for gas for years.

Peoples Gas issued a statement Thursday in response to CBS 2’s report.

The utility “discovered an illegal connection into our service pipe that was bypassing the meter,” the statement said. “As a result our crew disconnected this property. Once a payment arrangement has been agreed, we will send our service crews back.”

  • Seriously?

    I wish this story would have gotten to the news earlier so it would have forced People’s Gas to do something about it. Was she stealing gas for a city or something? How long would it take to run up $44,000? This is just dumb. I’m sure they will turn her gas back on pretty quick now!

    • Ghostsouls

      Well apparently there is a problem with her gas meter, or why were they replacing it? To keep from having proof it was their fault. They knew when a bill that size came out, there was a problem so they went to replace the meter. People’s Gas better hope this woman does not get sick and die because of this!!!

    • Bub47

      If you figure maybe 6 winter months per year at $300/month it would take 22 years to run up that kind of bill……. At least they could turn on her gas until they work out what happened and I doubt that even if she was stealing gas that her bill should be even close to that.

  • Danny Nix

    Der Commisar.

  • Mitch

    slander! accuse someone of stealing makes you liabel for what you accuse someone of a crime…. Here in Roanke, VA the gas company sent me a bill for more the $1100 after they never read the meter for 4 months because of bad weather. We had paid about $50 a month…. I told them “no, I won’t be paying it.” Then they came and replaced the meter…. in court the judge reduced their amount to $100… since they never sent the judge any info about the bill as per his request at the hearing where they sued me……. take them to court!

    • Tom

      He’s right. Most people just pay

    • Southloopballer

      GREAT COMMENT MITCH!! You’re hilarious.

  • Sparkle

    She has ten space heaters, and her apartment is still only a “little warmer than it is outside?”
    I hope she saved her receipts-she really should request a refund on those heaters.

    • bobdohr

      Oh MAN~ 10 SPACE HEATERS!! I don’t even want to know what her ELECTRIC BILL is going to be!! :-O

    • James

      Good comment. Additionally, when your heat is offline or your home is exposed, you could easily make do with ONE space heater in ONE room. She’s going to have a pretty hefty electricity bill next month as well!

  • john chrislip

    I presume she hasn’t been paying her Alderman his usual monthly bribe, or this problem would not have arisen.

  • wing15601

    Where is Gloria Allred when a poor woman needs help legitimately? Well, I guess there is no publicity and no republican whipping boys to be had so why should she care. I agree, this woman will vote for Husein no matter what the system does to her. Liberals continue to blame George Bush for things he has no control over and apologize for Husein for things he is responsible for.

    • Patricia Graham

      Wing Nut, the fact that you refer to PRESIDENT Barak Hussain Obama as “Hussein” says everything anyone needs to know about you.

      You obviously have no regard or care for a “poor woman in need.” Your only concern is for a soapbox from which to warble your puerile opinions.

      • T.A.

        ummm, you misspelled the President’s first name while gleefully bashing that guy over misspelling his middle name.

        Romney (spelled correctly) 2012!!!

    • SnapDog

      Bet Sharpton and Jackson are on a call right now fighting about who gets to give the first speach. Watch the facts come out and they will show video or pictures of how there were extra pipes in her basement that diverted gas so it didn’t pass through the meter. Wanna make a bet she won’t pay her electric bill when it comes and claims that it is too high. The 44k is probably for many years of theft.

      • GivemeAmerica

        Look at your comments. Is every single black person in America deserving of your constant mistrust and savaging scorn?

  • JustAGuy

    It’s the Chicago Way.

    If street thugs don’t rob you, then the government and public services will rob you. Just pay up, labor union leaders want / need your money.

    And oh yea, don’t forget to vote Obama in 2012. If you can’t make it to the polls, don’t worry, we’ll just fill in your ballot for you.

    • rho1953

      Whatcha” talking ’bout, Willis? You have already voted. Three times.

  • bobonnit

    Rahm stole the money. This is what Democrats and Chicago politicians do for a living. Valerie Jarrett and Obama got a cut too

    • Doug Rose

      I’m sure Obama will be making a Stop on his Campaign Trail in Chicago……what better “Photo-op” than to have her there, with Obama handing her a check to pay that amount owed !

      More Entitlement Votes !

      • Richard

        and that check won’t be drawn on his personal account, either.

  • mrce

    if this is a billing error then she should nottify the gas company

    • cigtar ash gokli

      actually, best comment so far!

    • Southloopballer

      GREAT COMMENT MRCE!!! Very practical.

  • johnnywq

    Fake story!!!
    Go ahead TRY to not pay your utility bill… they will shut you off after about 45 days.

    • JustAGuy

      We’re talking Chicago here. Graft and corruption is a way of life. The key event is she got the high bill AFTER they replaced her meter. She could have been paying her bill all along.

      I say shenanigans! It’s the Chicago Way!

  • David Bennett

    The telephone number to People’s Gas is below. Everyone call them and light them up on this.

    Customer Service
    Monday – Friday: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    Saturday: 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.

    • chiefwillie

      I calle them !! It’s the real number. They couldn’t locate my account information because of my 512 area code (Texas). Stupid computer……I never talked to a live person.

  • joey zasa

    damn mexicans

    • bob

      it was due to slavery

      • Southloopballer

        Hey No Apologies! I am confused as to how your forebearers in your comment are supporting bob the racist? THANKS No Apologies

      • No Apologies

        Take your racist trash back to the landfill it scuttled out from.

        This is America: land of liberty. If you can’t deal with all colors, races, genders, and religions being treated equally, then remove yourself from the equation. My forebears didn’t work hard for their farmland and their educations to support bigotry like you’re espousing.

  • pat

    I’m willing to bet she has been stealing gas since she has lived there. And has never paid a dime. Thenew meter was installed so she would pay.

    • DD

      you just lost your bet, dumb bit22

    • JustAGuy

      Close mouth and engage brain.

      How is an old lady living in southside Chicago going to figure out how to steal gas?

      I know southside if full of criminals, but this scenario is totally implausible! And another thing, the gas going to her 2-flat comes from a larger pipe that several consumers get their gas from. The meter at her place is the only way the gas company can know what she owes. So how did they arrive at the $44,000 number?

      I say shenanigans! It’s the Chicago Way!

      • the sane one


      • cigtar ash gokli

        maybe she “knows a guy”, or has children. I don’t replace my own roof, I hire someone to do it, you dig?

  • Pryor

    She probably had an old meter that she never had the reading checked. They installed the new meter and calculated the old meter reading number which is probably why its so much. She probably hasn’t had the meter read since the 90s.It happens, so pay up or bundle up.

    • Roberta Waker

      Isn’t it the responsibility of the gas company to read the meter every two months? If so, they should have caught any problems a long time ago and now they want this poor woman to pay up for THEIR mistake? No sympathy here.

  • Tray

    Someone has a severe lack of “Common sense”

  • T

    Guess Obama didn;t pay her gas bill either Dang it.

  • Southloopballer

    I’ve been buying my gas from that lady for 10 years. I never asked where she got it. It’s all coming together…

    • Mikey


      • Southloopballer

        Thanks Mikey. I post on things like this all the time and I really appreciate being appreciated. We should hang out some time. Just post your cell number, ssn, atm pin, home address, work address, mother’s maiden name and of course bank routing and account info and I’ll call you ASAP so we can set something up. I think we have the start of something beautiful here Mikey. I’ll look forward to seeing you soon. YOU’RE THE BEST PAL!!!

  • allness

    $44,000? It’s a very small price to pay in the most corrupt city of the nation. Keep voting democrat Chicago! The rest of the 56 states will sadly bail you out I’m sure.

  • Doctor

    Welcome to BIG Brother and Big Sisters world :-) where social engineering is at it’s finest. Even the electric/gas company knows this is in ERROR. When a bill jumps 4400% in one month. It must some unpaid tax bill that they are trying to collect since in moron in accounting could figure this one out in a nano-second.

  • rbg

    We don’t have the full story here. The $44k could be a billing error, but what I suspect is that this is a back-billing situation. She was probably getting service charge only bills for years. The billing folks at the utility probably questioned the lack of consumption on the bill and sent somebody out to re-read the meter. The reader may have found that the gas lines were re-routed around the meter to avoid recording how much gas was actually being used. They replaced the meter, saw what she used in one month and back-billed her back to when the meter was tampered with. Happens all the time with clever folks trying to get over and avoid paying for what they use.

    • chiefwillie

      How much gas does she use in July and August ??? If they made the charge based on your theory, why did they use a blizzard month to average her usage. ??

    • Buddy In Pa

      I bet she may rent so this could be a Republican Landlord issue !!!

  • JustAGuy

    The real question is how did the gas company arrive at the $44,000 number after they replaced her meter? I say fraud is occurring on the part of the gas company.

    • JR

      If that was fraud, it wasn’t very subtle. This is like the women who tried to cash a $1,000,000 bill at Wal-Mart… red flags the size of Rhode Island.

  • Nocheechako

    When a meter change out is completed if the changout is not entered into a billing system correctly the accounting software will presume that the meter has rolled. Its a common error and an easy fix. It should have only taken a phone call.

    • Sarah

      Did she get a new SmartMeter? There have been a LOT of complaints about bills going up after SmartMeters go in.

    • JustAGuy

      But we’re talking Chicago here. Things that should be normal and reasonable don’t necessarily apply. So far, the poor woman is living in an unheated 2-flat in WINTER TIME!!!! It’s gotten to the point that she likely contacted CBS Chicago for help. None of this surprises me. We’re talking Chicago.

      I’ve been saying shenanigans. I’ll add incompetence to that characterization.

      • Southloopballer

        Wow, JustAGuy–you know a ton about Chicago!! Have you read Devil in the White City? Its a great “chicago-centric” piece of literature and I think you’d LOVE it. Great work above–keep it up!!!!

  • Kersey

    How many other public utilities (water, heat, gas) across the nations biggest cities have huge outstanding bills like the one our upstanding citizen has in Chicago?


    this is why America dies.

  • Casper

    The ‘Peoples’ Republic of Chicago. Beijing sounds more inviting.

  • Sniffit

    Wow, look at all the racists coming in from Drugdge. Biggoted fools. Obama will win in 2012!

    • DD

      yes, he will win in 2012.

    • Danny Diego

      Yeah, right…we’re the racist ones. I see.

      Do you recall “rev.” wright? Do you recall who was sitting squarely in his “church” for years on end?

      How many times have you called your messiah racist?

      That’s what I thought…

    • JR

      Obama IS a biggoted fool. He’s the most racist president we’ve had since Woodrow Wilson.

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