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Family concerned after heat erroneously turned off in freezing weather


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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah woman made her payments on time every month and even had credit on her account, but her Questar Gas was shut off and not turned back on for several days.

Beth Ballard said she has had to stay with family members and use space heaters to keep her home above freezing temperatures for the last few days.

Questar Gas representatives said they made a mistake in shutting off the woman's service, and then they didn't respond quickly enough to get it back on so Ballard said the heat was off for several days.

"My hot water heater isn't working — it's on gas, and I said, 'I haven't had a bath for three days,' " Ballard said. "I still got the heater going in the bathroom there."

Ballard said her gas was turned back on Monday, but that she had some frustrations getting the company to turn it back on during the holidays.

"It was dang inconvenient for me," she said.

Ballard spent Christmas with family and when she returned home Thursday night, her Tremonton home was quite cold. The next day, she realized her gas had been shut off.

Ballard and her sons called Questar's emergency 24-hour service number to figure out what was going on. However, the family was told repeatedly they would have to wait until Monday morning.

"We called in the emergency number and was basically told there's nothing they could do, this was a billing problem you have to go through service department," said Ballard's son, Ross Ballard.

A few days before the gas was shut off, Questar Gas discovered that Ballard's husband, who was named on the account, was deceased. They told her to update the account information within 48 hours to avoid a shutoff. Ballard updated the account information, but the gas was still shut off.

"Where we fell down and made our mistake is that for some reason the shutoff order was not cancelled," said Questar Gas spokeman, Steve Chapman. "We deeply regret the errors we made that lead to what I can only imagine was a frustrating and serious situation for (the family)."

Questar Gas representatives admitted the call to the emergency service number should have been treated as a "no-heat" call with the current freezing temperatures, and that someone should have been sent out immediately to turn the gas back on.

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Anne Forester

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