The newly formatted letter-size Chesterton Utility bills appear to have
caused no little disconcertment among ratepayers.
Utility Superintendent Terry Atherton is reporting an “abundance” of
complaints and questions about the revamped billing statements, which folks
received last month.
In the first two days after they were mailed, more than 500 people called
the Utility, seeking explanations, clarifications, or reassurance, Atherton
told the Chesterton Tribune today.
Three issues predominated, two of them linguistic:
*Boilerplate language in the new statement refers to a “previous balance,”
leading some to believe that the Utility didn’t receive their last payment.
*It also refers to an “adjustment,” a muddier of the waters which Atherton
said will be re-worded.
*Finally, the new statement does not accommodate the printing of a
ratepayer’s history as recorded under the old billing system. Atherton
emphasized that this peculiarity of the new statement does not mean
that folks no longer have a history. They do. And the summer rate
scheme--under which folks pay the lesser of two amounts, for their actual
usage during the two peak months of the summer or for their last winter
usage--will not be affected.
Atherton promised that, over the next couple of billing cycles, all issues
“will be ironed out.”
“Anytime you make a change, particularly in a billing system, it will cause
a disturbance in the force,” he said.
Atherton did say that the new format is an improvement. For one thing, “we
can get more information on it.”
But the real advantage will become evident down the road--in the next six to
12 months--when the Utility establishes on-line and credit card payments,
something not possible under the old billing system.