Recently, I was reading through some provider reviews and found several classic examples where customers made mistakes with their with their Texas electricity plansthat wound up costing them more. In the interest of helping our other energy customers I’m sharing a few edited examples as common mistakes to show how other customers can avoid problems with their energy suppliers.
Late Fees? What Late Fees?
“I’ve been with X Company for over ten years. I was satisfied with their rates and I always renewed with them. Last year, I noticed my bills getting bigger and bigger. So I looked them over and found they contained $10 penalties for payments made after the due date and a $10 “disconnect letter service fee”! I called them to explain. They listened but didn’t offer any explanation except “there’s nothing they can do.” I AM DONE WITH X Company!”
Read the Terms of Service
As you can see, the frustration and anger of this customer is understandable, especially since they don’t see that they did anything wrong. But look closer. The customer complains that late payment penalties and disconnection letter fees suddenly pop out of the wood work when their account wasn’t paid by the due date. They infer that these fees are unfairly added on to their monthly bill.
The fact is that Texas state law requires that all fees and charges be spelled out in each plan’s Terms of Service. By reading the Terms of Service, customers will learn what they can expect if they make late payments. Texas state law says that late fees can only be charged once per amount due on a late bill. The amount can be up to 5% for the amount and that outstanding balances cannot be re-penalized. That means, the fee cannot be charged over and over again. However, note that it’s now very common for companies to include additional fees that can increase customer bills further.
That this customer sought to work out a payment system with their Texas energy supplier is commendable. But while some energy suppliers are willing to work with customers, some really just want to be paid when the bill comes due:
“When it comes to your electricity bill, “X Company is here to help. Your local utility company handles all Customer Assistance Programs. Please contact them to learn about payment options.”
Obviously, some customers having financial troubles might want to avoid signing with a company that thinks this is how to be “helpful”. The best way to learn about the best Texas electricity providers is to read actual customer reviews.
Always Verify Your Payments
It’s also important to bear in mind that this customer mainly got into trouble because they didn’t check that payments cleared on time before the due date. Sure, it’s also possible the due date came right before the customer received their pay check and they didn’t have the money available. However, the customer should have anticipated that and planned ahead. That’s even easier to do now with our on-line bill calculator which helps you figure out how your bill will vary through the year.
To be frank, we don’t know this customer’s exact circumstance for sure but suffice it to say that you should always make sure your payments get processed in time. If you pay before the due-date and you find a delay in the processing causes you a late fee, get your payment and relevant bank info together and complain to your Texas retail electricity provider. You’ll have a much stronger case if you can prove it’s their fault.
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One of life’s best ways to learn is to make mistakes. By learning from these examples, I’m hoping that energy customers will be better able to understand what they can expect and need to do in order to avoid having problems with their energy suppliers.