By SUSAN GAHLSDORF
Occasionally we have customers express concerns about the city’s utility billing process and customer service delivery. We take customer concerns seriously, addressing them individually and collectively. The following is a summary of our standard process and of an occurrence recently that was an exception to our normal practices.
The city provides its utility customers with a bi-monthly statement. When payment is not made by the 22nd of the month in which it is due, a past due reminder statement is mailed to the customer. It identifies the last day to pay before a late fee is assessed and water service is scheduled to be disrupted. At a minimum, this allows an additional two weeks to bring the account current. In addition, approximately three to four business days before water service is scheduled to be disrupted an automated phone calling system is utilized to remind customers of the last day to make a payment before service is discontinued. Our system attempts to reach customers multiple times but some calls go unanswered. When this happens we often discover that the phone number we have on record has been disconnected. If the phone notification does not prompt a response we place a door hanger at the customer’s address notifying them of a potential disconnect.
In September 2012 we had a system conversion. As a result of that conversion some customers were not sent their past due reminder in October 2012. We will be reviewing all accounts assessed a late fee in November 2012 and reversing the fee on accounts in which a past due reminder was not sent.
We make a genuine effort to inform customers of past due balances in order to avoid assessing the late fee and disrupting the water service. Generally, service disconnection occurs either at the customer’s request or after a series of failed attempts to work with the customer to bring the account current. The city only charges an after-hours fee when staff makes a call to the customer’s address after normal business hours to restore service.
For any questions, concerns, or suggestions please contact the Utility Billing Division at 503-390-8280.
(Susan Gahlsdorf is the Finance Director for the City of Keizer.)