Avista's customer service looks into unusually high bill

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by MIKE GONZALEZ & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on January 9, 2014 at 8:29 PM

Updated Saturday, Jan 11 at 11:26 AM

SPOKANE, Wash.— Avista Utilities said the colder temperatures in December increased some utility bills, but there are a few options for people feeling the pinch.

Tanasha McCrae received her most recent utility bill, which was $200 more than her previous bill and wanted answers.

“I was shocked,” said McCrae. “I had never seen my electric bill that high, so it threw me off a little bit.”

The stay-at-home mom had hung Christmas lights on her North Spokane duplex. Yet, she maintained that she had done nothing out of the ordinary when it came to using the power. McCrae called Avista’s customer service.

“I found out some information, but I still didn't feel the bill was justified,” she said.

McCrae believed there was no way her bill should have jumped from $286 to $480, so she called 2 On Your Side to get some answers from Avista.

Debbie Simmock from Avista said communication is key for customers who receive a higher than normal bill. She suggested that customers with questions call 1-800-227-9187. Simmock also suggested setting up an online account. Avista customers can monitor your usage online, compare bills from up to two years and analyze when they use the most gas or electricity.

“A customer never pays for more energy than they use,” said Simmock.

KREM 2 News put Simmock's advice to the test. We set up McCrae with an online Avista account where she analyzed her bill, compared past usage and saw exactly where her energy was going.

“Well it definitely gave me information as to the weather, which I figured would be the biggest contributor,” said McCrae. “But it left about 75% of the bill and what that increase was from.”

KREM 2 News called Avista customer service, who took it a step further. The customer service agent noticed the bill was out of the ordinary for the 1,100 square-foot duplex and launched an investigation. The investigation will be complete Tuesday.

The customer service agent also told McCrae there are payment options if she is stuck with the bill.

Avista does not change rates monthly. They are governed by the Public Utility Commission and cannot change rates without their permission.

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