Yesterday morning, I got out of bed and no sooner had my feet hit the floor, there was a loud rapping on my door. I peeked out and the ANEC electric truck (you know the one – the one that turns off electricity if you don’t pay your bill) was parked in front of my house.
Half-groggy, I asked them if I could help them.
“I’ve come to collect for the electric bill or I’m going to have to turn you off.”
I knew I had already paid it and I told him so. At that point, I thought it was a mistake as I knew I had paid it because I had just checked out my bank account online the night before and the check had cleared a week earlier. Keep in mind, too, I had no pending – recent or past – charges as I had paid the bill in full.
I told him I had paid it and without any remorse, he told me, “Well that’s not what we’re seeing. You have to pay $480 or I’m turning you off.”
I tell him I’m calling the company and will be right back. I figured it was a hindsight but I sure didn't appreciate being woken up to someone else's mistake.
I get the office and tell them that the truck is in front of my house and the guy is telling me he’s going to turn my electricity off if I don’t pay a bill I know I don’t owe.
After we argue back and forth, they tell me that my most recent payment was going on an account I had 13 years ago and wasn’t showing up on my new account (I had recently moved 2 months ago).
I tell them that that account was closed when I moved and after 3 visits to them in their building in Onley, Virginia, to get everything changed over (believe me, it wasn’t easy or it would have taken 1 trip like normal businesses), I had signed a new application with my physical address, paid all the re-connection fees and I was good to go. In fact, they wouldn't let me get the new account changed over unless I did pay all charges upfront which I did .
And they still insisted I owed this money.
I had proof I had paid it, but yet they still insisted I owed it and was going to turn me off if I didn’t pay it.
“Well where did my recent payment go?” I was practically screaming at that point because I knew I was in the right.
“To another account.”
“Can you get that money and apply it to my new account now? That account was closed and I don’t owe anything for it.”
“You’ll have to talk to my supervisor. Please hold.”
I was on hold for an interminable amount of time and called back.
“Yes, hi. I was talking to someone else about a bill you all are saying I owe and I know it’s been paid. I have no past due bills and the guy is out front ready to shut me off. I don’t owe it!”
By this time, the guy in the big yellow truck had left.
“I don’t know what’s wrong, Ms. Thompson. We’ll have to get this straightened out.”
“Well is he coming back to turn me off?”
“Unless you pay a reconnection fee, he is.”
“What??? Why do I have to pay a reconnection fee when the damn lights aren’t even cut off yet???”
“Tell you what. If you pay $126 today, he won’t come back and everything will get straightened out.”
“What’s the $126 for?”
At that time, I had lost it. I’m not even sure what I was paying $126 for.
“Will that be electronic check, credit card or debit?”
I paid the amount by electronic check only because for a solid hour, I had had it. I was being harassed by something that wasn’t my fault and I had to pay?
I ask you, ANEC, what did I just pay for? Will I see a credit for that on my next bill and the next time you go around harassing people for something that is your fault, will you still make sure they pay out of their pocket for your mistake like you did me?
Isn't that called highway robbery?