Business slapped with big bill after FPL under-bills them for years
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
PUNTA GORDA - A Charlotte County diner could be forced to close its doors for good because of an error that wasn't their fault.
The owners of Morgan's Cafe are in shock after Florida Power and Light discovered they had been under-billing them for years and slapped them with a nearly $4,000 bill and doubled their monthly electric bill.
"Typically our electric bill would run about $350 a month," said owner Brian Casey.
As it turns out that wasn't what they were supposed to pay. FPL had been under-billing Brian and his wife Kim for years.
FPL says their old meter and "not been taking accurate readings." It was only after they installed a brand new meter that they discovered their mistake.
"I said, 'Well that's not my fault,'" said Kim, recalling a conversation with FPL. "And she said, 'Well it's not our fault either.'"
"She says, 'It's nobody's fault but you used the power and that's what you owe,'" said Kim.
FPL sent the Casey's adjusted statements for the past year. In one bill, the couple was charged $263 when the actual amount should have been $508.
In another, they were charged $311 when it should have been more than double that.
"If it's their mistake," said Brian, "I don't think we should have to pay for it."
In a letter to the Casey's, FPL writes: "We understand how difficult it is to receive an unexpected bill and we are prepared to offer you extra time to pay for it...We apologize for any inconvenience this situation has caused you."
But for the Casey's this is more than just an inconvenience. With them owing nearly $4000 and with their monthly electric bills doubling, their days of owning a diner could be done.
"If my electric bills go between $600-800 a month there's no way I would be able to stay in business here," said Kim.
"This could literally put you out of business?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"Yes it could," said Kim. "Yes it could."
So could this happen to you? In a statement FPL tells Fox 4:
"We routinely test and replace defective meters to ensure fair and equal treatment to all FPL customers," the statement says. "While a defective meter is rare...if it registers lower usage than the electricity consumed...the Florida Public Service Commission permits limited back-billing for prior usage."
In the meantime, the Casey's plan to raise their rates. And the community has donated several hundred dollars to help keep them in business.