If you are considering charging your cut-off fee to every account when the cut-off list leaves your office, as I advocated in the last issue, the next dilemma facing you will be customers who complain.

A common complaint heard from customers of utilities with this policy is “You haven’t cut me off yet, so how can you charge me a cut-off (or reconnect) fee?”. This leaves your customer service representatives in the uncomfortable position of having to explain that, even though the customer hasn’t been cut off yet, the fee still applies.

Alternative terminology

To avoid these kinds of potentially inflammatory conversations with customers, many utilities have changed what they call their cut-off fee. They have adopted alternative terminology such as “delinquent fee”, “non-payment fee”, or some equally creative term that doesn’t imply the customer’s service has been disconnected.

Fee Survey results

While “reconnect fee” and “cut-off fee” were still the most popular, the 99 utilities responding to the 2015 Utility Fee Survey call their cut-off fee 32 different terms! This is an marked increase from the 2012 Utility Fee Survey when there were only 20 different terms.

Here is a graph of the various terms and the frequency of each from the 2015 Utility Fee Survey (clicking on the graph will open a larger image in a new window):

Cut-off Fee Terminology

The Other category includes 20 additional terms not show on the graph. To view a table of all 32 terms and their frequency, please click here.

Is it time to change what you call your cut-off fee?

If your utility charges the cut-off fee as soon as it leaves the office and you still call it a cut-off or reconnect fee, I recommend you consider changing it to a more generic term.

Don’t miss your chance

In a recent issue, I introduced the Utility Staffing Survey. This survey is designed to determine what is adequate staffing for a utility office. If you haven’t already completed the survey and would like to participate, please click here to complete the Utility Staffing Survey. This should take less than five minutes to complete. I will publish the results in a future Utility Information Pipeline.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete the survey. Please feel free to share the survey with your peers at other utilities.

Does your cut-off process need reviewing?

If your utility is considering updating your cut-off process, or if you think any other office process could be improved, please give me a call at 919-232-2320 or e-mail me at gsanders@logicssolutions.com to learn how a business review could help your utility.

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© 2016 Gary Sanders