Citizens Energy to repay for overcharges on late payments
Utility blames computer for failing to make change
Last Updated: 41 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS - Waiting until beyond the due date to pay utility bills can cost a lot of money in late charges, but people who are tardy with their sewer payments in Indianapolis are going to get a chunk of those penalties back.
The payments that Citizens Energy will be sending out cover overcharges made for late payments on sewer bills covering an 11-month period.
The overcharges started when Citizens bought the water and wastewater treatment facilities from the city a little more than two years ago.
Because of a computer problem, the previously agreed-upon reduction in the late payment charge for sewer bills never got into the new owner's computer system.
So Citizens kept charging late-payers the old, higher fee until it switched to a new computer billing system 11 months later and discovered the glitch.
"When we took the utility over in August of 2011, the wastewater utility, we agreed to lower the late payment charge on sewer bills from 10 percent of the total balance to three percent," said Citizens Energy spokesperson Dan Considine. "Unfortunately, when that old system was moved over here to Citizens, the system didn't make the change."
The total overcharge amounts to about $1.8 million, and more than 160,000 late-payers will get an average of $11.44.
Of course, for those who pay late all the time and had higher penalties, they will get back more.
The money will be returned to customers in the form of bill credits.
Citizens said it couldn't return the money until now because it had to research who had paid the penalties and how much they were due.
For those who always pay on time, they won't be getting anything back.
The payments will be going out to customers over the next month.
Citizens stressed that this is a one-time refund, because the computers have now been fixed.
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