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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.


Ever have an insanely high, erroneous bill (of any sort, for any reason)?

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Comment Preferences

  •  My sympathies. My favorite pub in the Maryland (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    suburbs of DC was hit with an erroneous $100,000 electric bill by PEPCO, and struggled for months to get it corrected.

    Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

    by Robobagpiper on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 08:00:08 AM PDT

  •  LIPA is under investigation (5+ / 0-)

    for over-billing- double billing.

    They really count on people not checking the meters- I do every month.

    We were a few days late once and received a disconnect notice and penalties that almost tripled the bill!

    Getting that straightened out took months.

    Hang in there- don't give up- keep fighting.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 08:01:04 AM PDT

  •  I have SMUD and they have always been good (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    too me.  My only complaint was when I moved one time and they told me that I didn't need to pay a deposit (because I was already a member in good standing) after moving I received a big deposit bill and when I called I was told that it was because I was in a commercial property, which has a different standard than residential.

    I kept telling them it is a house.  They kept insisting that it was commercial on the books.  I stayed on the phone for over four hours (I was a single parent and absolutely could not afford the deposit) with employees telling me that they absolutely, positively could not waive the fee under any circumstance.

    After four hours they did.

    If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much stupid costs

    by Sychotic1 on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 08:12:34 AM PDT

  •  Change your bank account (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    to a new account #, and don't give it to these thieves.

    I've been burned twice by promises  of  "won't take it out of my account". A cable company and a phone company.

    I don't use my bank account for bills thanks to this. I have a prepaid debit card for bills that I only load with enough $ to pay a particular bill at that particular time. I leave $5 in it.

    That way, nobody is going to "accidentally withdraw" anything, and leave me unable to pay bills until they "sort it out" over the course of a few months.

    The only number a company gets is my prepaid debit card.

    Never go with automatic payments on any accounts. Use the one-time payment option.

    Squirrels are the Devil's oven mitts.

    by Sark Svemes on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 11:51:17 AM PDT

  •  I've never had this sort of thing happen. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    I have had collection agencies try to harass me over bills I had paid off.

    I went through a bankruptcy once, as well.  Twelve years later, and in another state, I had a collection agency claim I still owed money for an account that had been listed in that bankruptcy.  The woman on the other end of the telephone line got to listen to me read off the decree - well, the pertinent bits, anyway.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 11:52:54 AM PDT

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