Family paid for streetlights for 25 years
Utility company initially refuses to reimburse Connecticut customer for erroneous charges, arguing that she should have complained sooner.
Here's a reminder that it's important to understand all the charges on your utility bills: A Connecticut woman paid 25 years for the electricity for two streetlights in an enclave at the end of her street.
"[Connecticut Light & Power] said it was always on the bill and up to me to inform them of the mistake," Grace Edwards told The Hartford Courant. "I said, 'How could I inform you of something I didn't know about?'"
You'd think that once a homeowner discovered such a mistake, getting credit for the erroneous charges -- about $20 a month -- would have been easy. But that wasn't Edwards' experience.
She got the runaround from the power company and also from the agency that regulates utility companies, she told The Courant.
The power company agreed to remove the streetlights from Edwards' bill but initially refused to reimburse her, saying she should have noticed the mistake sooner.
But Edward argued that the information on the bill wasn't easy to decipher. It merely said "9500 Lumen HP Sodium" and "6300 Lumen HP Sodium." This wasn't necessarily clear evidence that she was paying someone else's electric bill for streetlights – not something any of us would expect to find on our utility bills among all the taxes, fees and other items.
The charge stemmed from an agreement that builder of the subdivision, who was the former owner of her home, had made a quarter-century ago. The charges should have disappeared when Edwards and her husband, now deceased, bought the home in the Hartford community of Cheshire.
Finally, after Edwards contacted another state agency and the newspaper, she got a check for $10,491.21 -- about $5,800 in erroneous charges plus interest -- and an apology from CL&P.
As Taren O'Connor, the consumer information representative for the Office of Consumer Counsel, told The Courant: "You trust when you call and someone is pulling up your history and your bills, you think that they might say, 'Oh, wait a minute. Did you realize you are paying for two street lights?' Because I'm guessing that is not normal."
Good for her! Rarely do the little people recieve justice when contending w/ the corporate world. Glad that she was made whole.
actually this is not at all unusual. in the city limits where i live, the city pays for the street lights out of the city's yearly budget,...which they fund through our taxes of course. but in the individual neighborhoods, if a homeowner feels they aren't well lit and they want more lights, they can request the electric company add a street light to a nearby pole and they will be billed for the light's electricity. if you examine your bill you will see that fees and taxes are labelled "fee" or "tax". if there was anything else added to her bill, she should have asked what it was and they would have explained the charge. it was HER RESPONSIBLITY to check her bill. its called PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. She contributed to her own victimization through her own ignorance or negligance, and she should NOT have been given a refund.
Have you ever noticed with stories like this that nothing was getting done until she contacted a newspaper?
And my power and gas companies want to know why I refuse to have my payments automatically deducted from my account.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.