There's a lot of reason people at the bottom end of things are having a hard time of it these days. Healthcare remains a luxury for many Americans, wages have stagnated, and most people simply don't make enough money to live more than on the razor's edge.
And then we have shit like power company incompetence.
For a while now, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and I have been having it out. Some time ago, they accredited me a bill for well over four thousand dollars, an astronomical sum which was also quite ludicrous when one considers that this household has all of two people living in it (and one, now!), had all energy star-enabled appliances installed, hasn't had a conventional lightbulb in it since the advent of compact flourescent bulbs, and in general hasn't had anything remotely resembling electrical waste in a very long time.
Where did this enormous and seemingly-ridiculous bill come from? Follow me beneath the fold and find out.
The answer is quite simple: A meter-reading was input incorrectly.
No seriously, that's the actual reason they tried to charge me that much.
Sadly, things have not improved in the slightest since. Every month LIPA continues to send bills for outrageous sums of money ($600 to $1000 usually), despite the account being frozen whilst they attempt to "fix" it. I've been told multiple times - by multiple derpartments in LIPA - that this bill is going to take months to fix itself (we've breached 5 months as of today), and that I would see multiple erroneous bills as the case worked its way through the system.
Today, however, this went a few steps beyond that. Apparently LIPA tried to automatically deduct one of these erroneous bill charges directly from my account. Thankfully, I have a friendly local bank that called me immediately on the matter and cancelled the charge, because there was no way in hell I would be able to pay off a $700+ bill out of the blue like that and such a cost would impact my ability to pay other bills (such as the fuel oil bill), and I was quick to call up LIPA and demand an explanation for this. The response I got? It was automated and done entirely in error, and there was no way they could have prevented that. To their credit, I got a "we're very sorry" message and the claim that they wouldn't do that again.
The incompetence of this utility company is really something to behold. I've lived in this house for thirty goddamned years. One might think that LIPA could, oh, I don't know.... Check out the house's payment history or analyze our energy use over time so as to show that we're well within normal levels and not, in fact, using damned near five thousand dollars worth of energy in the span of a month. One might think that they could, parchance, try some other route before attempting to ninja money directly from my account to pay a bill that is entirely in error. One would think wrong. Sadly, stories like mine are far from an isolated occurence.
UPDATE: Just when you think it can't get worse, it does. LIPA called me back to let me know that the charge it had dropped on my account - some $700+ - was made via their online bill pay site by me. I found this a bit.... You know, impossible, since I haven't been to their site in three months. This isn't the worst part, though - the worst part is this: The billing issue was finally fixed, and I owed no more than $110 once everything was said and done - which, of course, didn't stop LIPA from withdrawing over 700 bucks for it.