Computer glitch creates problem for PG&E : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Published Thursday, March 15, 2001

Bill delay worries PG&E customer Computer glitch creates problem for company

Eric Vodden Appeal-Democrat

Patty Simpson of Linda is waiting with a little more bated breath for her PG&E bill these days.

The fact she hasn't received one since she moved from Marysville to her Linda home in December has her cringing at the prospect of four months of utility costs on one bill.

"I called them (PG&E) a couple of months ago and they told me that anybody who has moved hasn't gotten a bill because of a computer glitch," Simpson said. "I still haven't gotten a bill."

She said Pacific Gas and Electric Co. representatives have yet to be able to tell her how much it will be.

"It makes it hard to be able to set aside money when you don't know how much it will be," Simpson said.

PG&E spokeswoman Lisa Randle said Simpson is among a group of about 50,000 customers each month who, for one reason or another, have bills that have been pending for more than 60 days.

Simpson's situation, Randle said, stems from a change in computer programs in August 1999 to accommodate a new billing system started because of deregulation.

"One of the glitches that has occurred has been with either a change of party or a change of meter," she said. "We are struggling to get this corrected. It has taken a lot of work and process in doing this, and we continue to focus on that."

For some reason, the billing system has not always picked up service changes or meter changes and there is the potential for those customers to not receive bills right away.

"At some point it usually is discovered, but if a customer falls into this situation, we would appreciate them contacting us," she said.

Randle said long-range repayment plans will be available for those customers who fall victim to the computer glitch.

"The last thing we would want is for our customers to experience a hardship over this," she said. "We are working with them."

Randle said the shift in billing procedures resulted from a need for more itemized invoices required by the state Public Utilities Commission.

"We have experienced a number of transition-related issues - transitioning from a 35-year-old billing system to a new and more detailed one. It has been an ongoing process of fine tuning."

PG&E issues about 5.5 million bills each month, Randle said.

For Simpson, it isn't so much the amount of the bill she has not yet received.

"They said not to worry about it because they will take payments and things like that," she said. "What concerns me is that they are crying that they don't have money. But how much money would they have if they had been collecting everything they were supposed to?"

Randle said the amount lost to the computer transition is not significant enough to make a difference in the company's financial situation.

"This is just one of the continuing business processes that we work with," she said. "The primary and main concern is working with the customer to establish payment arrangements."

-- Martin Thompson (, March 15, 2001


August 1999 . . . because of deregulation

Yeah, I believe that ::::-

-- spider (, March 15, 2001.

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