CREATED May. 10, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- When there's a mistake on your utility bill, you naturally call customer service. But one valley business man says his complaints fell on deaf ears. That's when he reached out to Contact 13's Tricia Kean for help.
"They just said, no everything is correct. It's not our problem," says Michael Hoinoski.
He noticed something wasn't right with his NV Energy bills. He manages a phone book distributing company at this warehouse near Craig and Lamb. And he says the issue started as soon as he moved here in June 2010.
"The first bill received was billing us for suite 100A," says Michael.
The problem is, Michael's business is in suite 130. There's several companies in this one building. His NV Energy bills were sent to the right address but show he's being charged for service at suite 100A. Michael says 100A doesn't even exist.
And in some cases these bills reached more than $700 or $800. Michael says that's way too much for his small business. Even though they have this huge warehouse space, it doesn't require any temperature control and it's flooded with natural light.
"We don't require a lot of power usage here. It's basically 2 computers, a refrigerator, a microwave and a printer," says Michael.
But fearful his power would be shut off, he paid the bills. He also continued calling NV Energy about fixing the mix-up.
"Every single month. I'm not in 100A. There is no 100A. It's suite 130," says Michael.
He says NV Energy argued maybe there was an issue with the power meters not being labeled correctly. So Michael called his landlord.
"And the landlord actually came out... umm and rewired the whole thing just to make sure we were getting billed what we were supposed to get billed.
But everything was hooked up correctly. It was actually after talking to a neighboring business, that they figured out they were getting each other's bills. Suite 120 was getting Michael's bill and he was getting theirs, which were mislabeled as 100A. He tried to explain that to NV Energy, but says they weren't listening.
"We were being billed for 100-A all the way up until August of 2012," says Michael.
Then in September of last year, things got even more confusing. That's when Michael says NV Energy installed smart meters on the property.
"When that happened, that's when my bill switched from 100A to 120. And so I called them again. I am not 120," says Michael.
A couple months would go by and then in January of this year, another billing change. Michael says NV Energy actually sent him 2 bills. One was correct, addressed to his business in suite 130 for service at 130. But the second bill also addressed to suite 130 was for service at 120.
"So I call them again and they say, don't pay the 120. So I don't," says Michael.
But in February, Michael gets two more bills. Again he says he's told not to pay the bill for suite 120. But the next month would be the last straw for Michael.
"The last bill I received from March, what they had done was shut the 120 account off and transferred the balance to my 130 account," says Michael.
So along with a regular bill of $188, there was now a Balance Forward of more than $2,800. That's the same amount due from the suite 120 bills that Michael says he was told not to pay.
"That's when I said alright, I'm calling Contact 13," says Michael.
We reached out to NV Energy, and Michael says he was shocked at how fast he saw results.
"It just seemed immediate. It was within a week I'd actually gotten a response from someone in billing," says Michael.
In the end, he got a refund of more than $5,200 after months of over paying. So what happened? NV Energy wouldn't tell Contact 13 how the mistake was made, but in a statement says: "NV Energy made a billing error in this case and sincerely regrets the inconvenience it caused this customer."
They also say they've put new steps in place to prevent similar issues in the future. Either way, Michael's just happy to see this all come to an end.
"Next time, if I ever have this problem again with any business, I'll just call you guys first," says Michael.
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line: when dealing with customer service for any company, take notes. If you can, use email, that way you have a record of everything. And keep any paperwork and proof of payments made.
If you're still not getting anywhere, we've got your back Las Vegas. We'll do everything we can to get you the help you need. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For Contact 13, I'm Tricia Kean.