Archive for Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Notices shock electric customers

November 29, 2000

Late last week, about 1,700 area electric customers received a jolt when they opened their electric bills.

Inside was a notice that said customers had an overdue bill and that they owed a collect and disconnect charge of $25, a reconnect charge of $25 and a collection trip charge of $20.

When employees of Leavenworth-Jefferson Electric Cooperative returned to the office Monday morning after a four-day Thanksgiving weekend, the office was besieged with calls from confused customers.

Roxie McGraw was one customer attempting to call. She had received an overdue bill and disconnect notice at home and also at McGraw Fertilizer where she works.

After finding the cooperative's phone line to be busy, McGraw called her bank to make sure her checks had cleared. About the same time, she received Monday's mail, which contained a new and correct billing one without the extra fees.

H.B. Canida, manager of Leavenworth-Jefferson Electric Cooperative, said about 1,700 of the cooperative's 7,000 customers received disconnect notices informing them they had failed to pay their bill and would have to pay fees to reconnect.

The problem, Canida said, was that almost all of the customers had paid their bills on time.

He pointed to a computer snag.

The cooperative farms its billing out to a computer firm in St. Louis, Canida said. The cooperative inputs the data, and then bills are processed, printed and mailed from St. Louis.

"Somewhere there was a glitch in the system over the holidays," he added. "Instead of printing the amount due on bills, they put them on disconnect notices."

By Monday morning, everything had been straightened out in St. Louis, he said.

"The people will probably be receiving a regular bill in the mail even as we speak," Canida said. "Everything has been corrected and we will make sure that the late notice will not affect their credit rating."

Canida said the phone calls had been heaviest early in the morning.

"We've had a lot of phone calls and a few people coming in and they have a

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