Power meter mistake: Paying for someone else's mistake?

Power meter mistake: Paying for someone else's mistake?

By Patrick Nolan. CREATED Nov 28, 2011 - UPDATED: Nov 28, 2011

CAPE CORAL - Stayce Velez says she was shocked when she called the LCEC automated line to check her balance recently.

She had just paid her bill.

"I should have had a zero balance and I ended up showing a $538 balance,' says Velez.

She says she called LCEC and the co-op finally admitted that her old meter has been undercalculating her electricity usage for several months - going back to last year!

She says she asked a co-op customer representative about it.

"I'm like 'it's your faulty equipment, how am I liable for your faulty equipment?' But (the LCEC customer representative) said that's what electricity you've been using and we have to charge you," explains Velez.

She says LCEC calculated that she had been undercharged a total of $538 since 2010 and that if she didn't start paying it this month, her power would be cut off.

Velez says she even offered to pay half the amount if LCEC would pay the other half, but the co-op refused to budge.

The co-op plans to spread out the charges over a period of time.

Velez says LCEC will charge her an extra $89 a month for the next 6 months.

LCEC's spokeswoman, Karen Ryan, tells Fox 4 she's looking into this case but doesn't know specifics yet.

But she says, speaking in general terms, this kind of thing does happen.

"It's rare though," Ryan adds.

And it's legal.

She says the state's Public Service Commission (which regulates electric companies and co-op's) allows power providers to "back bill" customers to collect in such cases - even if it's the provider's fault.

"It's kind of like when a bank mistakenly deposits money in your account," Ryan explains.

"You still have to pay that money back."

Velez said she never noticed being undercharged because her bill was always around $180 or $200 a month.

Now she says she'll have to scramble to pay that extra $89 dollars a month until LCEC is satisfied.

"Every penny I make goes for rent and electric, says Velez.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"And feeding these two kids," she adds.

Patrick Nolan

Patrick Nolan

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Patrick has been a proud member of the FOX 4 team since 2003. He is the co-anchor of the the 6, 10 and, 11 o'clock news.