With reference to Rep. Herbert Clark’s April 27 letter concerning the payment of Bangor Hydro-Electric Co.’s bills at payment agencies, there is some confusion that should be clarified. Through no fault of Rep. Clark’s, the exact nature of the Public Utilities Commission rule on this topic was miscommunicated.
It is a clear directive of our customer service rules that customer payments to a utility’s authorized payment agency must be treated by the utility as if received by the utility on that day. A customer cannot be charged a late fee or issued a disconnection notice simply because the utility does not record a customer’s payment on the day that the customer pays at a payment agency. And, in fact, utilities usually take steps to avoid assessing late fees or issuing disconnection notices by waiting several days after the due date on the bill (which must be at least 25 days after the postmark on the bill) before taking these actions. This several-day delay allows for the recording of payments received at payment agencies.
I am not aware of any problems in implementing these rules at Bangor Hydro. If any customer does get charged late fees or issued a disconnection notice even though they have paid before the due date a payment agency, the customer should contact the Consumer Assistance Division, Maine Public Utilities Commission, State House Station 18, Augusta 04333, or call toll-free, 1-800-452-4699. We can investigate your complaint and make sure that corrective action is taken. Barbara R. Alexander Director, Consumer Assistance Division Public Utilities Commission Augusta