Guest Blogger: Matt Oberle from TexasElectricityRatings.com (Part 2) – Billing, Account Management, and Disconnect Notices

By Julianne, June 3, 2011, FAQs, News

This probably seems like a vague, rambling kind of category for a shopping tip, but bear with me and it will hopefully make sense. An extremely common grievance customers write to me about concerns disconnections for non-payment of bills, and many of those cite the lack of a disconnect notice. Basically, customers have their electricity shut off and are upset that they didn’t receive any kind of notice or warning that they were in the red regarding their bills with their REP. When customers write in, it’s often that they were simply a few days behind on their bill and they didn’t receive a disconnect notice in the mail before they had their electricity shut off completely. So what does this have to do with shopping for an electricity company? Well, several pieces, actually.

For starters, when a customer orders electricity, they need to keep in mind that unless that make up specific plans at the outset with an electricity company, their bill is going to come on a certain day, and payment is expected on a certain day. If payment isn’t received by that time, an REP is going to send out a disconnect notice immediately, and shortly thereafter if the bill is still unresolved, the electricity will be shut off. And at that point, a customer will have to pay to have it turned back on at their home or business. So when shopping, I think Texans should keep this thing in mind. Will you be receiving your bill at a time that isn’t the best for you financially to pay your bill? Is it due the end of the month when you’re financially strapped? If so, perhaps you should make arrangements to receive your bill earlier in the month when you can pay easier. Customers shouldn’t just sign up for electricity and then forget about it, it is important to pay attention to your account setup and management. Lots of people don’t pay too much attention to this, but it can make a big difference to set things up in advance to make sure they run smoothly.

Additionally, do you check your mail every day? Weekly? If not consistently, then it can be extremely easy for a disconnect notice to sit in your mailbox while you’re unaware that an REP might be waiting to turn off your power, simply because it slipped your mind. If so, perhaps you might be better off with an electricity company that allows for email notifications in lieu of written notices? Personally, I’m much more attentive to my online mail than I am to my snail-mail, so if I’m late on a bill or a disconnect notice is sent, I’ll see it much sooner online. For people like me, perhaps it’s better to choose an electricity company that has robust messaging by email? Additionally, maybe a company with on-line bill pay will prevent any incidents where notices can get over traditional mail, or your check and a disconnect notice are both in the mail at the same time. I’ve seen this create a lot of confusion with customers in the past, where they feel like they sent in their bill only to be annoyed to get a disconnect notice and then spend an hour on the phone clearing things up and getting peace of mind. In reality, the two pieces of mail just passed each other. Online transactions can help cut down on this kind of confusion, and if there are errors, typically it makes it easier to track by both customers and electric companies. Again, this kind of confusion can be avoided entirely with proper account management.

What does that mean for shopping for your electricity plan? If any of the above incidents sound like something that has happened to you, or something you could see happening to you, you should keep an eye out for electricity providers that have thinks like online bill payment, online account management, electric billing and payment, and email notifications. They’re additional safeguards that help customers stay on top of their bills and help prevent disconnects and misunderstandings.

About Matt and TexasElectricityRatings.com:
Texas Electricity Ratings was created specifically to act as a place where customers could come to share and read about individual personal experiences with the different Retail Electricity Providers operating in Texas, as well as compare prices and plans these companies have made available. Until Texas Electricity Ratings, there wasn’t a single site where people could come to review all of these things, as well as take an active hand in the electricity market themselves.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog/article are those of the guest writer, not necessary the opinion of Bounce Energy. For more information on being a guest writer for Bounce Energy, please email us at web@bounceenergy.com.

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