Reliant customers hit with erroneous bills

August 28, 2009 9:23:40 PM PDT
A local woman says she went to pay her energy bill, and days later noticed her bank account was cleaned out. Eyewitness News found out, she's not the only one dealing with this. When Jon Anne Hoff logged onto to her bank's website Tuesday afternoon, her mood turned negative. Just like her checking account.

"I was very angry. I was sickened by having a negative bank account and $650 is a lot of money to have taken out of your account, especially when you're not expecting it," said Hoff.

Here is how it all happened: Hoff paid her $45 Reliant Energy bill on time and over the phone Sunday with her debit card. Two days later, she found out she was actually charged 14 times that amount, leaving her account in red.

"Nowadays, everybody is on a tight budget and it put me into the negative. It was a $650 bill that I wasn't expecting, so there was an overdraft issue," said Hoff. Hoff is not the only lucky one. More than 14,000 other Reliant Energy customers also shared her emotions.

"Shock, anger. I thought I had maybe made a mistake, so I immediately got on the phone with Reliant," said Hoff.

Reliant says technology is to blame, a glitch in a billing system.

"Some had been undercharged and some had been overcharged, so as soon as we found this out we worked with our payment processing vendor to reverse all of those charges," said Stephen Morisseau, Director of Public Relations for Reliant Energy.

Hoff, a Reliant Energy customer for 15 years, says she was close to pulling the switch on the energy giant after they cleaned out her account.

"If the company that I've trusted for so long can do this to me with my debit card, my debit number, my bank account, you know that is a company I don't want to deal with," said Hoff.

Hoff says she will stay with Reliant since they have now reversed the $650 and also offered a $100 credit on her next bill.

In the meantime, Reliant says the thousands of other customers should also see reversals, if not already, then over the next few days.

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