First Choice Power Complaint - Poor Customer Service and Poor Accounting Practices - Billing Practices
Billing Practices - Complaint
HOUSTON, TEXAS -- I am a former First Choice Power Customer and I will never do business with them again. Since they have installed their new billing system, I've had more problems and headaches with my account - at least two payments that were not properly applied, backbilling for missed kilowatt hours, and a phone system that takes for forever to navigate through to talk to a real person and which will hang up on you.
Two payments that I made August were improperly applied to my account. Imagine my surprise after making a payment using their Western Union service, to come home the day before a big trip and find that my power had been turned off even though I called and gave them the confirmation number of the payment. I had to go to the store were I made the payment, get a copy of the information and fax it to First Choice Power. Unfortunately the power was not turned back on in time to prevent me from having to throw out food when I returned from my trip (my boyfriend was checking the apartment to see when the power got turned back on.). I was told at the time that the new computer system for billing was having problems correctly applying Western Union payments.
I just found out about the second problem with my second August payment this afternoon when I called about my refund check. The customer service rep told me that the check was going to be just over $70. I was flabbergasted because I had put down a $200 deposit. In doing research, the customer service rep told me that an ACH payment I made through their billing system at the end of August never was properly applied to my checking account and so the charges had been taken out of my deposit check.
The problem was discovered on March 3rd (SIX MONTHS AFTER I MADE THE PAYMENT!) and I wasn't notified of the problem until I made a phone call the them to inquire about the status of my deposit refund (Seven Months after said payment was made). The Customer Service Rep implied that somehow the money was somehow taken out of the wrong account at my bank (apparently this event has happened to multiple customers). I've requested the information for the transaction and am should get it in 8-10 business days.
I've used the billing system several times and the August payment is the only one that never went through.
Then there's the whole backbilling fiasco that happened in the November-December Time Frame. I had some overlap in the lease of my old apartment and the lease in my new apartment (where I am dealing with a totally separate power company). I was hardly at my old place for the month of November so I was really pleased when my bill that came at the end November was for $45. Then at the end of December I received another bill from them that was $315 before a number of credits were applied the bill because of backbilling that they had to do. The final bill was just over $132. However, the bill is not clear in term of what months the charges were generated in.
It's now 8 weeks since I made my last payment. My refund check hasn't even been cut. The Customer Service Rep asked me if I wanted the balance. I told him Yes. He told me that they cut checks on Wednesday but he couldn't guarantee that mine would be cut on April 2nd because Today is Saturday. At least I was able to get answers today because when I tried to call yesterday I kept getting disconnected from their phone system.
As someone who works in the IT/Software field, it seems to me that their billing system was improperly tested before it was put into production. There's no excuse for a six month lag time in finding out that there's a problem with my account (that just poor accounting practices), and I've never seen a company who blames the customer before taking a hit for something that is clearly an error with their system.
As someone who works in the IT/software field, it sounds as if their system was not fully tested before it was unleashed onto the general pu