No surprises here…

As the result of a listserv question, the previous Utility Information Pipeline included a poll asking how utilities notify customers after they have been cut off for non-payment.

Poll results

The poll results overwhelmingly confirmed my observation that most utilities do one of two things to let a customer know they have been cut off – leave a door hangar or do nothing at all. If you missed it, you can still participate in the poll by clicking here.

Here are the results of the poll (clicking on the chart will open a larger image in a new window):
Notification of cut-off accounts poll results

Contact by phone or e-mail

Three responses indicated they contact customers by phone or e-mail. (Although, based on one of the comments, I suspect one of the phone call responses misunderstood the poll and indicated how they contact customers before being cut off).

I was initially surprised that some utilities take the time to phone or e-mail accounts that have been disconnected for non-payment. After discussing this with a customer, I realized some utilities have good reason to do so. Utilities that serve customers who aren’t year round residents (for example, beach communities) might want to let non-resident customers know their service has been terminated.

Another year is almost behind us

This issue marks the fourth anniversary of the Utility Information Pipeline. Subscribers continue to increase, by over 10% this year.

If you have co-workers or colleagues from other utilities who you feel would benefit from reading this newsletter, please take a minute and forward this to them.

This year also marked a milestone with the 100th issue!

If you haven’t checked out my blog recently, I encourage you to do so. Each Utility Information Pipeline newsletter article is also posted to my blog as an archive. So if you can’t find an old newsletter e-mail that you wish you still had, try searching for it on my blog.

April of this year was the busiest month ever for my blog with 894 page views and November 26 was the most active day ever with 235 hits.

Most popular blog posts

For the third year in a row, convenience fees was the most popular blog post topic. Here are the five most popular blog posts in terms of page views for the past year:

  1. Can we charge a convenience fee for credit card payments…?
  2. How much is your late fee?
  3. Do you have a cash handling policy?
  4. Are you following these meter reading best practices?
  5. Who trains your new hires…?

Ideas, anyone…?

After four years, topics to write about aren’t as easy to come up with as they were when I first started! If you have an idea or suggestion of a topic that you would like to learn more about, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at gsanders@logicssolutions.com.

Happy New Year!

I wish you and yours all the best for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2015!

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© 2014 Gary Sanders

How do you notify cut-off accounts?

Recently, in one of the listservs I subscribe to, the question was asked about how other utilities notify customers after they have been disconnected for non-payment. I found that to be an intriguing question, because it’s not one I’ve heard asked before.

A few responses answered how they notify accounts that are subject to being cut off, but only one other response directly addressed notifying customers after they have been cut off.

Notification options

My observation has been that utilities do one of two things to let a customer know they have been cut off – leave a door hangar or do nothing at all.

Do you have a legal obligation?

Some states require a utility to leave a door hangar, or other notice, alerting a customer that their service has been disconnected. Other utilities feel that it’s a good customer service policy to leave a door hangar.

If you do leave a door hangar and it can be distinguished from a door hangar you would leave for any other reason, you may want to consult with your attorney. I know of one utility that used a brightly colored door hangar for disconnects and a white one for all others. They were sued for a privacy act violation and, as part of the settlement, agreed to use a white door hangar for all situations.

Avoid confrontations

In the other camp are utilities trying to avoid potential confrontations with angry customers. These utilities simply have the service technician terminate the service and move on to the next account on the cut-off list without any further notification.

After all, you’ve let the customer know they are in jeopardy of being cut off, either with a second notice or on the original bill, so what more notice should you provide them?

Quick poll

How do you notify customers after they have been cut off for non-payment? Please take this quick poll.

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© 2014 Gary Sanders