a bench with a view

a bench with a view

Thursday, September 1, 2016

would you stop pursuing it?

Or what would you do?

Let me give you a little background.

When we lived in San Diego in hubby's parents house it was paid for, so all we had to pay were the taxes and the utilities. We didn't switch the utilities over to our names initially, but kept them in his dad's name until we relocated to Prescott in January 2015.

I had to set up new accounts for all the utilities (gas and electric which are run by the same company San Diego Gas and Electric, water and sewer that is split between 2 companies, more about that later) and trash services. Even though we had been paying the bills faithfully for close to 4 years, because the bills were not in our name but still his dad's, we couldn't use the bills as credit references for when we moved to Prescott and we had to pay deposits on things we probably wouldn't have had to pay for if we had utilities established in our names for longer than that time.

So fast forward to October 2015 when the house in San Diego sold and escrow closed. Naturally, we transferred utilities out of our name and gave forwarding address for the closing bill to be sent to so we could take care of it for all the utilities involved.

The system worked for San Diego Gas and Electric and the trash company and half way worked for the water/sewer bill.  In Chula Vista where we lived, water is taken care of through Sweetwater Authority and sewer is taken care of by the City of Chula Vista. You establish water service and Sweetwater Authority notifies the City of Chula Vista to set up sewer service. Water is billed monthly, sewer every 2 months (why I don't know).

We paid the final San Diego Gas and Electric bill, the final trash bill, and the final water bill. City of Chula Vista was supposed to send me the final sewer bill. Mind you, that was October 2015. Remember, they bill every 2 months.

October 2015 (middle to 3rd week of the month is when they bill) I got a bill for the full amount of sewer services for 2 months. I didn't pay it because I figured they were still calculating final bill, after all we had just closed escrow October 1st which is when I notified them to cancel service and send us final bill due.

December 2015 we got another bill with of course a past due balance since I hadn't paid October's bill. I wrote a letter explaining everything and figured it would be taken care of.

No, it wasn't. February I got yet another bill for sewer service, again a past due balance now with late fees assigned. I called the City of Chula Vista and they looked into it and said they hadn't been notified by Sweetwater Authority (water company) that the account had closed but they got confirmation that it had (I stayed on the line while they contacted the water company) and they assured me we would get the final bill due (which was roughly for services for September 2015).

April 2016. You guessed it. We got a bill. Not amused, I called the City of Chula Vista yet again and talked to the very same person I had talked to back in October 2015 when I wanted to cancel services. She remembered me. She ASSURED me it would be taken care of, I just had to send her an email with some info she needed and she would send me a confirmatory email that "all was done" with it. Yep, you are right. I never got that email.

After that, remember I've been trying to take care of this for now 6 months, I told hubby "I'm done." If they wanted their money they were going to have to try to fix the problem. I had dates and people's names I talked to. If it got sent to collection, I had enough proof I tried to resolve the bill. I said I wasn't going to do anything more about it.

June 2016. Yes, you are right, another bill arrived. Again I said I'm not doing anything. Hubby called the number and left a message. If you thought he got a call back, you would be wrong.

So last week hubby (who checks the mail daily, which is kind of funny since I see when the mail lady delivers it since I can look out the front window but I'm too lazy to go and check it) brings the mail in after he got home from work. He kind of smiled when he held up an envelope. Immediately I said "its the sewer bill." There may have been a cuss word in there, maybe not. You decide.

I said "if you want to take care of it, you do, I'm done."

He called the next day and talked to the lady I had talked to back in February who was mortified (embarrassed, stunned, shocked) that it hadn't been resolved yet. She promised (yeah right) that she would get it taken care of and email him the very next day with the final bill amount. She confirmed the email address I had given months ago that she still had on record.

That was last Wednesday. No. He didn't get an email the very next day. Nor on Friday. Or Monday.  Or Tuesday.

He was going to wait until today (Wednesday) to see if he had received anything and then call again. He didn't receive anything, so he called. He has that lady's direct line. Once she realized who he was she immediately became apologetic "I'm waiting for my supervisor, she's supposed to get back to me about this or that" etc. She assured him he would have it resolved the very next day.

What do you think?

His strategy is to call every 2 days until it gets resolved.

I admire him for doing so.

I'm done with it.

Was done April 2016.

Would you call or would you stop pursuing it?

Eventually I think it would catch their attention.  Right now we "owe" $325.04. Wouldn't you think after close to a year they would start investigating this and do more than add past due amounts of the bimonthly bills?

I will pay what I know we fairly owe. Which is roughly sewer service for September 2015 like I mentioned above.

But not a penny more.


Sally said...

Good luck dealing with bureaucracy - it sounds as though the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. Only pay what you owe. To get it resolved you'll probably have to keep ringing until they get fed up with you! At least you've kept proper records of times and dates and names - always helpful.

Pat Hatt said...

I've dealt with people seeking money at work, and they didn't send me the friggin invoice to pay, then they still didn't said me the crappy thing. They wanted to be paid, they should send me it. So kinda the reverse. But it is their job to get things right. I'd be like your husband and nag them for spite though haha

Ann Bennett said...


I would keep working on it and get it resolved. Otherwise, it could become an unwieldy albeit unfair problem. How do I know this? Experience.

I would call them everyday. Be polite. They will get tired of you calling and do something. I would not be above calling a couple of times a day in about a week or two. When they complain I don't need to call that much. I would just tell them I am helping them get it resolved. I don't think it would hurt to speak to someone over the woman's head. She could be the kink in the machinery. Good Luck.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Wow, Betty, what a pain this is! I can certainly understand your frustration. Yes, only pay what you owe and nothing more. We had a similar incident with the phone company, although not for as long. We had called to cancel service with them a few weeks before the requested cancellation date. They were supposed to charge us till that date and not a day more. Well, you guessed it. They billed us past that AND there was no record of us having called. Thankfully, like you, we keep records of names/dates/times/what was said, etc.

Maria Zannini said...

I would continue to pursue it only because it'll come back to haunt you if/when you move again.

We had a similar situation with Better Homes and Garden. I had gotten a one year subscription, but I didn't renew. For six years they sent me that magazine! I called, emailed, and sent them snail mail. Nothing worked. I finally just let it go and they stopped sending it, six years later.

lyndagrace said...

I would continue to pursue it, but it is apparent that the person you have been dealing with seems to be the problem.
Perhaps it's time to talk to the Supervisor. Or at least get the name of the Supervisor. I think your husband's approach of every two days might work, but he needs to talk to someone else. Perhaps a barrage of certified letters to upper management?
Good luck. Keep us updated. :)

Joanne Noragon said...

Calling every two days probably will get the job done. It's a game.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Yes, I'd pursue it. I wouldn't stop till I saw a written confirmation that the account was closed. Sounds to me like someone is in trouble and covering their tracks so to speak. I'd also send a letter along with calling so they have something in writing too and maybe let them know that it is a certified copy and you intend to resolve the matter.

baili said...

new hearings for me because we don't have such headache here
hope you will be able to solve your matters soon dear

joeh said...

Years ago, after my house was sold, I received a call from a collection agence dude "prick". The Gas and Electric billed me for two months, two months after the house was sold. I had not lived in the house for several years (I was thrown out) and I guess the ex never cancelled the service and or the G+E made a mistake. THe ex gave the collection prick my number...the account was in my name, and the Prick called me every several months to harass and threaten me. His last call before I simply refused to pick up any number I did not know he threatened to ruin my credit. I told him what ever his company paid for this debt, it was in error and he might as well right it off.

My credit is still very strong.

Liz A. said...

This sounds a lot like the issues my roommate is having with Frontier (the guys who took over FIOS from Verizon). She closed the account in June due to their incompetence, but they still bill her every month and won't fix the bill.

I admire your husband for taking this on. He might be at it a while. Make sure you document everything just in case.

Joanne said...

Sounds like he is on a mission now. Good luck

Mac n' Janet said...

I'd keep calling, wouldn't want your credit messed up because of their inefficiency.

Linda said...

Pursue! But gal might rather deal with my husband as my patience would be minimal. Keep documenting your contacts.

My mom just recently got a copay bill for ER from 18 months ago. We had to look up paperwork from past to see what they were talking about. They blamed the insurance company for delay in billing which is odd since she's had another 2 ER copays since then.

Sorry for your go-around!

Pudge450 said...

I would copy this blog entry in its entirity, along with comments and attach a copy of the last bill you received. And then attach a hand-written note asking for a resolution. And be sure to find SOMEBODY to CC. And include your phone number and email address. And wait.

And for just the principle of it, the next time you receive the bill, recopy everything and attach along with another handwritten note requesting resolution. Personally, I would continue to do this, even at great personal expense, until something happens. And if it gets turned over to collections, do the same to them. I also would send a check for the estimated balance you owe - no late fees or anything.

I did this once when my company was under investigation for wrongful termination of an employee who TOTALLY deserved being terminated. I felt that it was unfair for me to have to hire an attorney, so I handled it. They nipped away at me every week wanting more documentation and justification for the firing. I had everything required, so they dug deeper, wanting records on other employees whom fired employee felt should be fired. When I realized they weren"t going to give up, I began the copying and sending the entire file of everything previously sent along with new documents. It grew exponentially and became voluminous. I didn't give up. They did.

Birgit said...

This does not surprise me at all since I am a Credit Counsellor and have heard similar things. Knowing how they often drop the ball, I would be calling them daily! I would bug them until it is resolved and I would check my credit rating because they could have negatively impacted your credit rating which is wrong but it has happened. I would raise a stink and I would contact the local MP as we call them here in Canada to help with my efforts. It is frustrating to say the least

jack69 said...

I like Pudge's idea above. I also like hubby's idea of calling every two days. I might try to get the super's phone # also.

NOTHING, NOTHING is more frustrating than dealing with the levels of GOV'T bureaucracies, local, state or federal. They have taught even private businesses to build in levels so the blame can be shifted.

Good luck. I KNOW the feeling!

Kat said...

Oh. My. WORD!!!!! That would make me lose my mind. Seriously. That is INSANE. What a bunch of malarkey. I would have to take care of it because I would be paranoid that it would go on my credit report. Completely their fault and yet you have to jump through hoops. Nuts!


I'd have a lawyer send them a certified receipt requested letter and be done with it.

Bobbi and Gracie said...

This is all too familiar. I have fought so much in similar battles and often times gotten to the point where I say "Okay, how much do you want from me???" and then I settle up and move on allowing myself to be taken advantage of and calling it the price I pay to leave this in my past and once again enjoy peace. But I know that is not right. And so I fought long and hard with Verizon last year about my business line which was to be seventy two dollars and some odd cents every month. They promised. They - meaning Julie, Frank, Eduardo, Debbie, Marissa and Steve. .... just several of the customer service reps/supervisors I wasted my time talking to about it. Every month the bill came different. More. Much more than was agreed upon. Finally, the very last person I spoke with I told her that I PROMISE that it would be my last call to them and that if my bill did not come in at $72.00 a month that I would be canceling and getting a cell phone for the business. I promised her and I meant it!!! That was about eight months ago and I have not had a bill over $73 since. It must have been something in the way I spoke my words that time. ha! Sorry I went on and on, Betty. I just want you to know that I really do feel your pain!

Paula Kaye said...

I would be calling and asking to talk to that lady's supervisor. It sounds to me like there is a breakdown in the system somewhere. I'd send in the amount I felt was fair and mark the bill final payment!! I don't do well with these kinds of things

Pudge450 said...

One more comment..... I once read that if you use the words "I am feeling very harassed by this" you often get action very quickly. I have used this phrase with telemarketers who call often in spite of my number being listed on the "do not call" register. They have agreed on the spot to get me off their list. Apparently they fear legal repercussions. I'm not sure it would work with a utility company. But it couldn't hurt to use the phrase.

Bijoux said...

I'm the type of person who would call EVERY day until they got sick and tired of me. I would also post about online, esp. if they have a facebook page or other social media. I've found that usually gets their attention!

Saleslady371 said...

I would trust the husband's judgment. This happened with us with the VA when Tom was in the hospital and we were walloped with a giant co-pay we contested. We did everything through correspondence; we waited months. I was the more impatient one hoping to resolve. He gave them time and with each bill we recorded a timeline noting a lack of response. His correspondence got assertive too at times, but always business like. I kept the VA advocate's info on hand whenever Tom might tell me "go ahead." I never had to and the bill was removed from our account. I learned a lot from this experience, about teamwork and respect for my husband's lead, about praying about it and trusting God. Sounds like yours is wise as well.

Mevely317 said...

Sounds like my doctor's office!
I've ZERO tolerance for things like this and ya, would probably have caved, just to be rid of them. I've not the time during the weekday ...nor the patience ... and that's probably just what they're counting on.

In all seriousness, I applaud your tenacious attitudes ... and documenting EVERYTHING! Like Taryterre said, I think an attorney would be a good bet at this point. Either that or a "tell-all" story -- including names! -- to the Letters-to-the-Editor section of the local newspaper.

The Brown Recluse (TBR) said...

At this point, those folks need to stamp your bill "Paid in Full" and "Ticket Closed." There is no excuse for such inefficiency!

Wendy said...

Oh now see, this is where it all gets fun. I would be on the phone calling EV.ER.Y day. Hey, I haven't gotten that email. Hey, just checking -- I didn't get that adjusted bill. Where I live, the local news stations have a service called "10 on Your Side" and the reporter gets involved getting in contact with someone who can get things done, I guess to avoid the bad publicity. Do you have that?

IntenseGuy said...

I'd call them and threaten to sue them for 'Mail Fraud' which is what this amounts to in my opinion.

Governments are so inept. And people want them to run "Obamacare"? Crazy stupid.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I would probably keep calling just out of sheer anger!

netablogs said...

Wow, that's frustrating! Good thing you are keeping good records. I would probably write a letter outlining exactly what you did here and insist on closure. And pay what you fairly owe, just as you have planned.

Denise said...

Having been the supervisor of the water and sewer billing clerks in my job, if you had called me and this had been happening, there would be some severe discipline handed out to the staff members. I dealt with the City of Detroit where we bought our water and they had some yahoos and I can imagine this happening in a large city. Personally, I'd threaten to get a lawyer and sue them for harassment. But I definitely would get the name of someone higher up and go to them. Our county drain commission billed my community for a project overrun years ago. I disagreed with the amount, protested their charges, and by the time we were done, the entire bill was written off and they even paid our attorney fees. Stick to your guns.

yaya said...

Isn't there any supervisor you can talk too? This is ridiculous! Good luck with all of it!

Ruth said...

Would they have a presence on social media? I have learned that sometimes that is the only way to get something accomplished. Sometimes you can post and sometimes you have to make a comment. Either way, state the problem on their Twitter or Facebook and you will be asked to send them a direct message. It works because other people will see it and it looks bad on them.

Debby aka Coffee Lady said...

Unfortunately, I would have to keep at it or it could come back to haunt - some day. Just seems like this kinda of "customer service" happens all to often anymore.

Veronica Lee said...

Oh Betty, this must be so frustrating for you. I hope you will be able to solve your matters soon