My husband and I sold our house in August. We live in another state and had been paying the utility bills for the vacant house. Every month, I'd get the bill and notice that it's an estimated reading. The bills would range from about $150 to $220, depending on what the usage was from the same time period in the previous year. I'd call them up and tell them that the house is vacant, the air conditioning is off or that the heat was very low. They'd give me this song and dance about that I should pay the bill that I have and that they'd send someone out to get an actual reading, which would reflect on the next month's bill.
Of course, the next month's bill would be another estimated reading.
Come to find out, they were sending a representative out to read the meter in person, but when the readings would come back to the billing office, some genius would decide that the reading was too low and obviously wrong, so they'd estimate it again.
We went to settlement on the sale of the house at the end of August. We settled on a Friday evening, so I called Pepco first thing Tuesday morning (Monday was Labor Day) and checked to see that the new owners had switched the billing for the house into their names, which they had. (Good new owners!) Because the new owners had begun billing for the residence in their name, they had already sent out a meter reader to get a starting reading for them and an ending reading for us. Yay, I thought. We were finally going to get this mess straightened out with an actual reading!
No such luck. We got the final bill, which was an estimated reading AGAIN. I called them and stated that I should not have gotten an estimated reading for my final bill. They once again told me that they did do an actual reading, but it was "obviously too low" (where have we heard that one before?) so they estimated it. I told them that I wasn't going to send them $135 that I DON'T OWE THEM, and would they please find the actual reading and bill me based on that? Apparently this actual reading has disappeared, so they don't have it. The person with whom I spoke told me that they'd be opening up an investigation into it and we should have a final bill within a few weeks. I asked if I should pay the bill and they'd send me a refund when they found out that I was right, she said that I shouldn't, and the final bill would probably be covered by what I'd already been paying them.
I fully admit dropping the ball at this point. I should have been more on top of it than I was, but my husband had grad school intensives, we were searching for a new house with all the financial stuff that goes with it, our dog died, I was ill, and about 10 zillion other things were calling for our attention. I just plain forgot.
Then we get a letter in the mail from a collections agency. Pepco went and sent us to collections over this stupid thing. My husband promptly wrote a letter to the collections agency telling them that this is a disputed debt. He called Pepco AGAIN to try to get this mess figured out, and they're clueless. By the notes on the account, there should have been an investigation and actual readings billed upon, but none of that has happened. If I had paid the $135 that I DON'T OWE them, I'd never see a dime of it again. No one there has any clue why we got estimated bills in the first place, since I'd been calling them every time I got a bill since April and requested that no estimated readings be billed, only actual. It's all over the account. Yet, we still got estimated bills.
It's not a matter of not having the money to pay them. It's a matter of even owing them the money in the first place. Just tell me what I actually owe you and I'll be happy to pay you. Heck, I'll even send it via singing telegram.
At this point, I think my husband and I are going to have to suck it up and pay the $135, since there's no way to get an actual reading now, since we don't own the house and haven't for nearly 5 months.
tl;dr: Electric company estimates bills for vacant residence, insists they won't estimate bills, estimates anyway, sends us to collections for a bill that we in all likelihood don't owe them.