Searching for Answers


Duke Energy customers upset over high bills have just a few more days to talk face-to-face with company customer service reps.

Duke says the main issues appear to be high usage and errors in reading the meters.

On Tuesday, Tommy Pool checked on the progress of the outreach and tagged along with Duke Energy customer Kurt Swadener, who is also a co-worker here at the station.

He had a familiar complaint, namely a bill that showed his usage much higher than normal.

It’s been about a week and a-half since Kurt Swadener started asking questions about his January bill from Duke Energy.
“About 2,000 kilowatt hours is where I have been. Last January’s bill was 2,100 kilowatt hours. This January’s bill was over 5,000 kilowatt hours. 

After multiple calls, Swadener finally got a representative to check his meter. The reading came back without an issue, meaning his meter was working properly.

Duke then recommended he go to the office to sit down with customer service to find answers.

“Once they called up my account it became pretty obvious what the problem was. On January 3rd, the meter was read by a meter reader and the amount they put down was 2,900 kilowatt hours more than it should have been.”

Finding this problem is one of the main reasons Duke Energy is holding the event, and after a week of this they are learning more information.

“Meter reading errors, and we are admitting to that. We have found problems like that and human errors in our billing system. And like any company, we want to make it right,” siad Duke Energy District Manager Rick Burger.

Swadener’s account will now go to the billing department for adjustment. For customers it makes it nice to discuss the issue in person, but it raises an issue for the future.

“I think coming in and speaking with someone is very helpful, but the frustrating part fo rme was trying to take care of this over the phone.”

Swadener found out that call representatives don’t have access to the same information as the on-hand representatives.

His concern is those customers who are set up on budgets won’t see the mistake. Duke is using the feedback to adjust their systems so that these problems don’t happen in the future.

“The thing we have learned is how we can improve our system on our side. So I think we have gained a couple things out of this process. Because customers are saying they got these outrageous bills, why is that? Our system should have caught that and pulled it back or not even sent it out.”

Duke Energy says they are resolving some problems but not all.

While some of the misreads are completely wrong, others were caused by wrong estimates.

Those will not be changed because customers did use the power, but weren’t previously charged for it.

The face-to-face customer service will be available tomorrow and Thursday at Duke’s Terre Haute office on Home Avenue.

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