Thousands of Direct Energy electricity customers may end up with two or three months worth of bills showing up at once due to a computer software error.
A new customer service and billing program the retailer switched to this summer has a bad habit of kicking some customer’s accounts into a sort of “waiting room” soon after a new meter read is entered into the system. Bills don’t get printed out and sent to customers while in that electronic limbo, says Direct spokeswoman Lisa Dornan, so the company has to go in and manually changed the records.
The problem has been affecting a little less than 2 percent of Direct’s approximately 1 million Texas customers, or about 20,000 accounts.
The impact: some customers have been receiving two or three bills at once, often with due dates very close together. Direct understands paying three months worth of bills may be difficult, Dornan said, so deferred payment plans are being offered. According to online info about the problem:
· Deferred Payment Plan
The Deferred Payment Plan will allow you to pay the total of your unbilled amounts over the next four (4) months. You will need to call us at the telephone number provided below to get started. Once we set up the deferred payment plan, you will receive a letter with your amount due for each installment payment date, which can be set up weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly – which ever works best for you. While you’re making your Deferred Payment Plan installments, please remember that you will still be responsible for paying your most current monthly bill by the invoice due date. We will not require the standard Deferred Payment Plan initial payment of 25% upfront for this plan. Your first installment will be due by the due date of your bill(s) or five (5) days from when you call to set up the plan. Our customer service representative will provide you with the due date and the amount owed for the first installment.
The company has a special toll-free number dedicated to the problem: 1-866-416-1898, manned Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Central Time.
“It’s not been what we’ve wanted to deliver but the investment in the software system was made because we want to be here in Texas for the long haul,” Dornan said.