By Samantha Vercellino
Sometimes selling your house can be frustratingly hard–even for your electric bill.
Mark DeVaun should know. The sale of his home was moving forward, and the electric service was switched to the buyer’s name. However, a missed down payment on the buyer’s end delayed the house closing , and Mark was forced to call ComEd to get the service back to his name.
The switch was easy. The only thing ComEd couldn’t do was reinstate Mark’s old account number. He had to receive an entirely new account number. And that’s when the trouble began!
Unfortunately, out of habit, Mark used his old account number to pay his final bill online, and the money was credited to the wrong account. So even though he had paid, his new account still showed a debt.
“ComEd sent the outstanding balance of the new account to a collections agency because it thought I didn’t pay it on-time,” Mark said. “So I had to pay the collections agency as well.”
Immediately, Mark called ComEd to explain the mix-up and to recover his first payment. He said that a company representative told him a refund check would be sent.
But in a bizarre turn of events, the utility cancelled the refund check and used the funds to pay the new account’s balance. Just like that Mark paid the same bill twice–once to the collections agency and, now, once to ComEd.
ComEd, Mark said, then told him that the collection agency—not the utility—would send him the refund. After speaking to the collections agency, Mark learned his payment would take 4-6 weeks to be returned.
After everything that happened, Mark, a retired assistant analyst for the State of Illinois, called ComEd to ask the utility to give him the exact sequence of events in a letter. He wanted to have a record of this ordeal, in case he needed to dispute the collections agency’s activity in the future.
But Mark had yet another frustrating conversation: “I wanted to talk to a supervisor, but the representative cut me off…After getting the dial tone, I knew I needed to talk to CUB.”
Sandra Marcelin-Reme, a veteran of the Consumer Advocacy Department, didn’t waste any time looking into the matter. Less than a week after CUB sent the inquiry, Mark was holding the requested letter in his hands.
“I am very grateful that CUB was able to help me straighten this out,” Mark said.
Does this headache sound familiar? If you have questions or complaints regarding your utility, phone or cable service, call CUB’s Consumer Hotline, at 1-800-669-5556, for guidance on your rights.