Meter mix-up costs homeowner $20,000

Print
Email
|

by Jesse Jones / KING 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @getjesse

KING5.com

Posted on January 9, 2014 at 12:26 AM

Nothing gets Sonya Olejar fired up like talking about her Puget Sound Energy bill.

“This is ridiculous,” said Olejar.

Her issues started in 2002 when the PSE bills for her new home were several hundred dollars per month.

“I've never gotten a bill this large in my life,” said Olejar.

She called PSE but the company put any possible issues back on her.

“Well, you need to green your house out.  Nowadays you need to put the spiral light bulbs in, you need to check all the seams in, under your doors that go outside,” said Olejar.

Sonya did it all, even blocking the vents in most of her home and having PSE clear the house for leaks or issues.  But the bills were still high.

“They started sending me bar graphs of how my energy usage compared to my neighbors energy usage and everybody's bar on the graph of my neighbors was like three millimeters tall and then you look at my bar which was about an inch and half tall,” said Olejar.

For 11 years she called and complained but nothing changed.  Then last summer Sonya moved and PSE disconnected her service.  But a month or so later ...

“I got a bill for $300 after they shut off my gas and my electric.  I was so frustrated,” said Olejar.

That's when PSE figured out Sonya's bill was tied to the wrong meter.  So she'd been paying her neighbor's usage the whole time.

“There was something wrong and I just knew it,” said Olejar.

PSE refunded Sonya five grand - only a quarter of what she was owed.  Why?   State law requires utilities to only go back three years on refunds.  Since Olejar had been telling the company about the issue all along, she wanted the full refund.  That’s when she contacted me.

“They're responsible.  So if they're responsible with their employees, they need to take responsibility with their clients,” said Olejar.

I had Sonya file a complaint with the state and then I reached out to PSE.

“We didn't move fast enough to fix it.  It was our mistake,” said Andy Wappler with Puget Sound Energy.

Wappler said the company took another look at Sonya's case and realized it should have caught the mistake years ago.

“They deserve an apology and a refund for the energy they didn't use,” said Wappler.

A few days later - Sonya got another check for nearly $15,000. 

Now this can happen to anyone but there's an easy way to avoid it.  Check the meter number at the top of your bill and see if it matches the meter number on your house.  If not, contact PSE immediately because you don't want to get burned by charges that aren't yours.

Print
Email
|