(1) 800 numbers cost a fortune if you're dialing from outside the continental United States. Sometimes you can just replace the 800 area code with a 212 code and reach the same representative.
(2) If you've tried the 800, the 212, the 888, the website form, and all of them keep clicking off on you--and if you're on hold to the tune of over 19 cents per minute, listening to the worst Muzak you've ever heard, for thirty minutes, hang up.
(3) Next option: call much earlier in the day--if you're in Germany, call at noon, German time, which is usually six a.m. New York time, and you'll get a representative. Don't call during regular American business hours--you'll get the wait. The gruesome, soul-destroying wait as the kids scream downstairs and the dinner dries out.
(4) If you find your blood pressure too high after dealing with the@#$%^&*(O)P!! representative, never cuss him or her out (i.e. when you've told them the Con Ed website just clicks off on you and they say, "Ma'am, you can get to it through Google or Bing"--yes, the woman really did say that.) Just thank the representative and hang up.
(5) Go to Get Human https://de.gethuman.com/
They do have Con Ed numbers. For a nominal fee--$30, last time I looked--they will call Con Ed for you and "resolve the issue."
(6) If you don't want to spend the thirty bucks because your Con Ed bill is already outrageous (a refrigerator in an uninhabited apartment racks up over $634?) call again with a script in hand. Slow down when the representative says, "Ma'am, you're talking too fast." Don't talk when she cuts you off as you explain how they didn't send your paperless bill. Let her yell, "Let's go forward, Ma'am." When she says, "As a courtesy, I will remove your late fee," Don't scream, "As a courtesy, you behemoth?" Just say thanks.
(7) There's always the option of writing to the CEO. A useful website to know is this one, http://www.ceoemail.com/hints.php
which gives you the email address of John McAvoy, CEO of Con Edison, among many others, along with tips for how to write to him, starting with "be polite." Yeah! And I was! Here's a similar useful website: http://elliott.org/blog/3-secrets-for-finding-any-ceos-email-address/
(8) Notice when the CEO writes back, and when she or he does not. I had an issue with 23andme.com, because I felt they weren't clear on the fact that they can't send you your genetic predispositions if you live in Europe. I didn't go for the answers I got on Customer Service, but when I wrote the CEO, she was very responsive, polite, and helpful. I hasten to add that I have not heard from Mr. McAvoy.
(9) Be persistent. I'm going to write him again
(10) Do stay polite. No matter what. But if Mr. McAvoy is reading this, I'd like to know why it isn't easier for New Yorkers living in Europe to get service, and get billed easily, without the time-wasting efforts I've been through over the last weeks--not to mention the loss of sleep.