Update: Zombie Utility Bill Uprising Defeated!

Mike, the subject of the post “When Zombie Utility Bills Attack!,” has an update for us:

After filing a complaint with the PSC (no help, of course…), I’m trying to figure out what to do next. As if it were a miracle come down from heaven, Tallahassee Utilities calls me! Shanna, the rep who ended up being assigned to my case, actually tracked down the current residents, and found out that they had basically sublet the house during the summer. The guy who lived there racked up the current outstanding bill. They even have payment checks on file with all of his information! As Shanna tells me this, I’m thrilled, because it obviously means that since they have clearly verified that I was not living at the house AND they know who ran up the bill, I’m off the hook! Open and shut case right?

Wrong.

Shanna tells me that despite this seemingly indisputable evidence, I’m still liable because….wait for it….I don’t have the damn utilities transfer paper from January 2003. So, trying to stay calm, I repeat this information back to Shanna, and ask her if I’ve understood her right. She confirms it, and I can barely contain my rage in asking her if there is any supervisor, any recourse, ANYTHING I can do to convince them to resolve this in my favor. She says that she will look into it, but assures me there is almost zero chance anything will change. She promises a call back that afternoon. When I don’t get a call back by five, I call first thing next morning. Shanna is out. I leave a voicemail. Next day, same thing – Shanna is “out”, I leave a voicemail.

Now it’s the weekend, and it’s been 3 days since I speak with Shanna. So, on Monday I called back into the general customer service number, and I ask to speak with Shanna, thinking I might catch her. The rep says he can put me through to her voicemail, and I decline and ask to speak with any available supervisor. He then asks for my name and phone number, which I give him, and he proceeds to tell me that he will pass along my information to Shanna. I then repeat my request to speak with any supervisor. He then starts to say “I’m sorry sir, there are no–” and I finish the sentence “no supervisors available? No problem, I’ll hold for one.” Then he tells me that they’re all busy helping other customers. I repeat my request to hold for a supervisor. He tells me it could be a while. I tell him that my problem is so important that I will waste as many minutes on my cell phone as needed to get it resolved. He finally asks me to hold…and SURPRISE! He has found a supervisor for me to talk to!

Now I get on the phone with supervisor Mike (not the same Mike as before), and relay my ENTIRE story. I think Mike can tell just how pissed off I am, and assures me that he will look into the matter. He also promises a call back that afternoon, and although I’m skeptical, Mike gives me his direct line, and repeats his promises.

Fast forward to 6:40 p.m. I’ve pretty much given up hope when my phone rings, and it’s Shanna. She has apparently worked all day, and finally has the right answer for me. Shanna informs me that I am no longer liable for the debt, and that they are notifying the collection agency and credit bureaus first thing on Tuesday. Of course, I ask for verification in writing (which I receive right away), and I decide not to press for answer as to why the sudden change of heart. Maybe Mike reads the Consumerist?

Of course, I guess this whole thing isn’t officially over until it’s off my credit report (Thursday is the promised date). But, I do have written proof that the debt is no longer mine, and there was no call from MAF collections today, which had become the norm.

Just wanted to say thanks to you guys for posting the story and thanks to all the readers who offered advice!

Yay! Congratulations, Mike!

(Photo:johpan)