Check your bills and check them close

Utility company says cutting my power, then sends me $300 bill for it

Like most of you, I’m sure, I try to pay my bills as quickly as possible.

That’s why this past March I was surprised to open my Epcor power bill and see “Service Finalled” stamped across the statement. Oh brother, I thought. Did I forget to pay the bill?

I’m usually pretty diligent about such things. Rent, car payment, motorcycle helmets, utilities, garbage pick-up all take top priority.

Well, better phone them and find out, I thought. If I wake up on a work day and can’t make coffee, there’s going to be trouble.

So I called Epcor and explained that it appeared my power was being cut off. The Epcor staff member on the phone was very patient and understanding, and asked me to wait for a few minutes.

She came back soon explaining that I had been accidentally bumped from the system, and this apparently happens from time to time. I pointed out that I didn’t request end of service, and as far as I knew I’m not moving anywhere. She said the company understood,and the matter had been resolved.

As it turns out, the matter was not resolved. A few days ago I opened my most recent power bill from Epcor, which included a $300 “adjustment.”

As this is several times what my power bill usually is, I finally discovered on the back of the statement, under “adjustments,” the line, “Residential deposit $300.” Apparently, after the last problem was straightened out I was considered a new customer and automatically billed for a new security deposit, despite the fact I’ve been an Epcor customer since about 2002.

So instead of living life to its fullest (as I usually do on the weekend) I was back on the phone to Epcor, trying to find out if I was expected to pay this hook-up fee related to their computer’s mistake, not mine.

Again, the Epcor customer service representative was patient and understanding. After waiting on hold for a few minutes I was told that I did not have to pay the security deposit, and that, yes, it was connected in some way to the previous “Service finalled” mistake. She assured me the charges had been removed from my account.

The moral of this story?

Don’t assume your bills are accurate, and don’t assume mistakes don’t occur. I had two fairly large mistakes happen to me just over a couple of weeks.

Check your bills, utility, credit card, bank statements etc. closely.

You and I are the ones who have everything to lose from mistakes like these.

Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the newspaper.

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