Jamie Smith Hopkins
6:00 AM EST, December 3, 2012
Eileen Chiat got a very surprising letter from Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. last week -- a turn-off notice. Even though she didn't miss a payment.
"I went bonkers," the Owings Mills resident said.
A confluence of events was behind the mistake, according to BGE.
Chiat pays by automatic deduction, her due date fell during the Thanksgiving holiday and this was the first time since BGE launched a new billing system in January that its business office had been closed for two consecutive weekdays. BGE spokesman Rob Gould said that caused a glitch that the utility would make sure is not repeated the next time -- at Christmas.
"We never want our customers to feel, 'Wait a minute, I pay my bills on time, why am I getting a turn-off notice like this?'" Gould said. "That's not acceptable, and we own up to it."
Gould said BGE is aware of no one other than Chiat who received the notice in error as a result of the Thanksgiving glitch. (BGE customers' due dates are spread throughout the month.)
"We appreciate the fact that she brought it to our attention," he added.
Chiat can't believe she's really the only one. She noted that when she called BGE on Thursday about the problem, there was a 25-minute wait to talk to the billing department.
"We'll see what happens at Christmas," she said.
Connect with Jamie at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jsmithhopkins.
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