Would this convince you? Advice please

September 26, 2008

To Tallahassee Utilities,

I am writing to protest the 56 dollars of connection fees that I am being charged on my utility account that I have had connected with no interruptions for over three years.

Let me take time to explain the situation.  When I moved to Tallahassee four years ago my father was kind enough to activate my utilities in his name and social security number so that the deposit would be waved due to his good credit with his utility company.  But since that day I have received and paid the utility bills with my own money.

Three years ago I moved across town to a new house.  At that point I decided it would be logical to change the name on the account from my father’s to my name.  I called and inquired and was told that I would have to pay a deposit (approximately $250) in order to do that.  That of course was unsatisfactory to me.   So I asked about what would be done if someone had died or gotten a divorce or sublet a house and needed to change a name on an account.  The customer service representative told me that I could add my name to the account and then after two years of good history I could remove my father’s name from the account.  To do this we had to both (my father who lives out of town and I) appear in person at the Renaissance Center.  So we did that and in June of 2005 my name and social security number were added to the account so that in two years I could remove my father’s name.

Earlier this month I happened to be in the Renaissance Center to meet with Gwen Lightfoot about affordable housing issues on behalf of Tallahassee Equality Action Ministry.  I remembered that it had been plenty of time now and I was in the building I could stop by the Customer Service desk and remove my father’s name from my account.   I got to the front of the line and told the representative what I wanted to do I was first told that had to pay a deposit.  But I explained that I had been on the account for over two years had been told that I could now just remove his name outright.  She looked up my account and told me that was okay and she had me fill out a form and show my ID.  I asked “So now my father is off my account?” and was told yes.  At no time during this meeting or during any of the other conversations and meetings three years ago was I told that there would be any charge if I followed the procedure proscribed.  So that is what I did.

Three days ago I received a bill in my name that included 56 dollars combined of “connection fees” for gas, water, and electricity.  Since my utilities had never been disconnected and I was not expecting any charges I called the customer service line and spoke to a representative.  I asked about the charges and she said, “it says that you had one account that was closed and another that was opened.”  So I explained the situation to her and the steps that I had taken.  She then told me that the way I had handled the situation forced them to send a meter reader to my house and that is what the fees were for and that I was lucky because I only had to pay 56 dollars instead of the $250 deposit.

There are two major problems I have with this.  One, I was never told that I would be charged anything.  The bill I received was the first indication. Had I been told about the charges I would not have done it this way.  And second a deposit would be potentially refundable; where as these “connection fees” I will never see again.  And again, nothing was ever disconnected.

I have over four years of good history with Tallahassee Utilities, three of which are under my own name.  I feel like I am being taken advantage of by an unfair and unclear policy that now I see little way out of.   I hope that I will receive satisfaction by getting a bill that reflects the removal of these unfair fees.

Thank you,
Erin K. Thompson

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2 Responses to “Would this convince you? Advice please”

  1. Hank Says:

    Sounds totally logical to me, but I doubt that you will convince the utility. Sorry!


  2. […] 2, 2008 So I sent my complaint letter to Tallahassee Utilities.  I sent it certified mail because that’s what the complaint letter […]

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