HECO's got the power to cut service
My wife has been with HECO in our same apartment since 1986. We pay our electric bill every month always on time. We have occasionally fallen short of full payment but have always made an effort to pay. Last month, we could not pay the entire bill, but paid $100. Eleven days later, HECO cut off our power without warning. I told them I had made a $100 payment, but the representative could not have cared less. I was told I had to pay about $600 -- $350 deposit, plus the entire amount past due. I told the woman I didn't have that amount handy, and she made it sound as if she was doing me the greatest favor by saying I could pay $245, then the deposit by March 1. I very unwillingly accepted this offer. My wife went down to HECO to see if she could arrange a payment schedule. The representative said, "It does not matter whether you have been with HECO for 20 years, you were supposed to come down and bring your receipt for the $100, then let us know when you would be paying the balance." We are so angry at the way we were treated. Why are we being penalized after making an effort to pay our bills?
Answer: Hawaiian Electric Co. has its own version of the story, saying your wife had been given eight monthly reminder notices and finally an "Urgent Disconnection Notice" before the power was terminated.
Your partial payment was made earlier on the same day that HECO mailed the "Urgent Disconnection Notice," said HECO spokesman Jose Dizon.
The cashier taking your wife's partial payment did not know that a termination of service was pending, he said.
The "Urgent Disconnection Notice," which warns that service can be terminated at any time, looks "very different from the eight friendly reminder notices" sent earlier, he said.
"Also, any assumption that any customer can make late/partial payments to perpetuity or that the urgent disconnect letter looks like a reminder notice is wrong," he said.
Dizon also said that if service is disconnected for nonpayment and there was no previous deposit in the account (as in your wife's case), HECO requires a deposit equal to two months' electricity use.
We asked Dizon to explain the procedure leading to termination of service.
Customers who have an outstanding balance will receive a notice seven days after the due date for the outstanding amount, Dizon said. It will either be a "Reminder Notice" or an "Urgent Disconnection Notice," depending on the credit/payment history.
"Some customers, depending on their credit history, could get 'Reminder Notices' for several months before receiving an 'Urgent Disconnection Notice,'" he said.
While both notices have due dates, the "Urgent Disconnection Notice" specifically states that the total past-due amount must be paid in full by that due date or service will be disconnected without further notice, Dizon said.
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