Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Always Get It In Writing

Over the summer I had to pay for my own utilities. Water from American Water Co, electricity from Duke Energy, and sewage from the city of West Lafayette. I called to start service at the beginning of the summer, paid every month, and then on August 2nd, called and canceled service for all 3, effective August 4th. I moved out on August 3rd, paid my bills for July and the first couple days of August, and then thought I was done.

Then I got a bill from Duke Energy, for August. (Aug 4th-Sept 4th). So I called them up, and they told me I never canceled service. Thing is, I did. But I can't prove it. When I called the cancel, I clicked through the phone options and eventually got to the cancel service menu on the phone. It's an automated system they offer, and I made the mistake of thinking it would work. Obviously it didn't, but since the machine didn't give me a confirmation number, I've got a problem.

So when I called Duke, they told me that I'd either have to pay the bill, or get the current resident to call them and tell them to backbill him for August. Will he do it? I can hope so, it would be the moral choice. I really have no idea though, and if he doesn't, Duke holds me responsible. I'm obviously not, since I canceled, and moved out. The question then is, which is more expensive. 50 bucks for the bill, or lawyers fees.

I can win if I really fight it. I hardly expect Duke to go up in front of a judge and say that they're charging the person who doesn't live their over someone who does. But, it'll cost me lawyer fees, way more than 50. Is that extra money worth saying screw you to Duke? They are lying and basically trying to extort money, so I'd say yes, it is. Depends on what the lawyer costs turn out to be though. I've got a booklet of coupons and a bunch of them are for free consultations around West Lafayette, so I'm looking into scheduling one to see what my options are.

The lesson here though: Always get it in writing, and never trust companies.

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