Allegheny will refund incorrect surcharge

December 13, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY ? Washington County resident David Finn was surprised when Allegheny Power lumped him in with residents of Montgomery County, Md. ? adding a $13.94 surcharge to his latest bill.

Finn grew up in the Fountain Head area and moved away. This past summer, he came back and bought a house off Marsh Pike, north of Hagerstown.

This month, he noticed on his bill a surcharge that Montgomery County charges its residents, through Allegheny.

Finn said he called Allegheny, which blamed Montgomery County, then called Montgomery County, which blamed Allegheny.

A second Allegheny representative said the company would stop the surcharge, but Finn still had to pay it on his current bill.

Finn objected and took his complaint to the Maryland Public Service Commission, which regulates public utilities in the state, and he called The Herald-Mail.


Customer to be credited for surcharge

On Wednesday, responding to a reporter's inquiry, Allegheny Power spokesman Todd Meyers acknowledged the error was Allegheny's.

Finn will be credited for all of the Montgomery County surcharge that he paid since his Washington County account started in August, a total of about $30, Meyers said.

The surcharge, which Allegheny collects on Montgomery County's behalf, is assessed at a rate per kilowatt-hour, rather than a flat fee, Meyers said.

Finn's bill shows that he was assessed a $13.94 surcharge on 2,872 kilowatt-hours used in 30 days. His total bill was $238.31, including the surcharge.

"We were incorrectly putting that surcharge on his bill ..." Meyers said. "We regret making that error."

He said someone at Allegheny entered the wrong five-digit internal code for counties, a code that doesn't show up on a customer's bill.

Customers encouraged to check their bills

Finn wondered if this was widespread, but Meyers said Allegheny only gets a few complaints a year about the surcharge being improperly applied.

He said Allegheny has about 26,000 customers in Montgomery County and about 245,000, mostly residential, in Maryland.

He encouraged customers to check their bills, especially their first one, and tell Allegheny about any problems.

Upset more about the principle than the money, Finn said, "at a minimum, it's just really, really bad customer service" from Allegheny.

One Allegheny representative told him the developer who built his house must have supplied incorrect information and past months' surcharges couldn't be credited because Finn hadn't noticed them before, he said.

Meyers said both explanations were wrong.

Allegheny will contact Finn to explain how the problem will be fixed and the credit issued, Meyers said.

Hearing from a reporter about the resolution, Finn said he was pleased and hopes to get a letter of apology to show his brother, who teased him for complaining.

Allegheny phone number

Allegheny Power spokesman Todd Meyers said customers should call the company at 1-800-255-3443 if they see an inaccuracy on a bill.

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