Though the necessary expenses of heat, water, and electricity take up a predictable part of any family’s budget, making sure you’ve set aside enough money to pay for them isn’t always easy.
When the mercury plunges or the kids come home from college for winter break, the jump in your utility cost can seem a nasty surprise.
Of course, some expenses increased don’t owe to any consumer action. Just consider the 2010 case of Calgary resident Jolene Kirton.
It was the beginning of summer, the time when citizens of The Great White North can heave a sigh of relief as temperatures finally stay stuck above freezing.
But when Kirton received a bill from Direct Energy in the amount of $2,000, she let out a gasp instead.
A computer error has caused the utility to underbill Kirton for two years, and it decided to recoup the entire amount in one fell swoop. Fortunately, Direct Energy decided to take full responsibility for the mistake after multiple customers complained.
Tennessee residents ran into the opposite problem on July 8 when a number of Memphis Gas, Light and Water payment kiosks gave out abnormally low balance info.
Consumers rejoiced as their three-digit bills got transformed into pocket change.
“I’m like, ‘Why me?’” Tanaka Chatmon told WTHR after her $570 balance became $7. “I didn’t this was going to happen.”
Sadly, the shift was anything but permanent. MLGW said that a glitch in a number of kiosks was responsible for the new balances and that consumers would have to pay their original bills in full.
But one woman from Erie, Pennsylvania, is thrilled she won’t have to pay the amount originally quoted by her power company.
Like many homeowners around Christmastime, 58-year-old Mary Horomanski had strung her property with power-hungry decorations.
However, when she went online to check her account, she received a truly nasty shock. According to Penelec, she owed roughly $284 billion and had a minimum payment of $28,156.
“My eyes just about popped out of my head,” Horomanski told GoErie.com. “We had put up Christmas lights, and I wondered if we had put them up wrong.”
Horomanski can rest assured that her bill, which is greater than the national debts of South Africa and Hungary put together, isn’t her fault.
A Penelec spokesman has confirmed that the amount was the result of a decimal error and that Horomanski won’t have to pay it.
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