Utility companies serve thousands of customers and you represent just one customer! They have processes to manage their business as cost effectively as possible but that doesn't always include great customer service, and unfortunately it often means that you are paying for something you never requested … or in my case, something I discontinued but kept getting billed for.
Technology is playing havoc with some utilities. Phone companies are struggling as more people are consolidating their service … and the winner is the cell phone!
Business Models Changing for Utilities
Phone companies don't want to lose customers, or should I say their revenue. Unfortunately they're used to operating more like a monopoly where they didn't have to respond to customer wants … and competition. Now they're scrambling as the traditional “land line” phone companies are losing customers rapidly. Their cost structure is too high, their service isn't great and when people focus on their budget, the cell phone wins. If people can only afford one phone, it is a cell phone.
With a recent move, I transferred my primary phone line to Vonage, to keep my number which is critical for a business. At the time, there were still ridiculous hurdles to transfer what are known as “virtual” numbers (problems have since been addressed), so I delayed moving them.
Things happen and it was a year before I realized my old phone company had continued billing me for phone numbers no longer being used. My bookkeeper handles most office mail and when I review financial information, all communication costs (cell phones, office phones & Internet) are consolidated … and the problem didn't jump out at me, until I did an audit.
What I learned is … you can NO LONGER trust a phone conversation to be adequate communication to disconnect a utility. Even though my primary number moved, I had multiple discussions with the phone company to complete the transfer to Vonage, I verbally explained the move and the mailing address changed to where these phones could not go, but the billing continued.
Hopefully I can help others avoid similar problems, and yes I've heard of similar stories about electric where they aren't available to disconnect and then if you won't (can't) return to verify, they too have continued billing. Good luck!