November 25, 2012

Nothing for Something

The hurricane/super-storm known as Sandy was devastating.  There is no doubt that there was irreparable damage done to lives, homes, businesses, and landmarks.  I feel for each and every person affected by the storm.

As with any disaster, natural or otherwise, there was, and is, heroism, courage, generosity, and hard work in response to the damage.  Some organizations did better than others, but there is no doubt that all were trying to get things back in order.  I don't know much about power generation and transmission, but I have been without it and sympathize with the hardship.

Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), made a poor billing decision.  Likely they made a series of very bad, thoughtless, and short-sighted decisions when allowing for estimated bills to go out even as they are still getting a handle on whether the structures in question still remain standing, much less whether they have, and are consuming, power.
LIPA customers who spent weeks without power got zapped with their normal electric bills — as if the outages never happened.
The clueless utility charged Sandy-soaked Long Island residents an estimated rate that covered the entire billing cycle, and the statements made no mention of potential refunds to account for the prolonged blackouts.
Communication is key here, and they clearly FUBAR'd it.  And yet,
Jonathan Saporta was slapped with a double whammy by the Long Island Power Authority — a $649 bill for the Long Beach home he left in October and a $281 bill for his new Great Neck pad.
He also is expecting a $1,700 bill for his storm-ravaged restaurant, Jake’s Wayback Burger, which is in hard-hit Long Beach and remains without power.
 Saporta, 33, moved to the Great Neck home on Oct. 1 and got the bill in the mail on Wednesday for a cycle covering 43 days — including the two weeks he spent in the dark following the Oct. 29 storm.
 Even though he switched his account to the new address on Sept. 26, he still received an e-mail bill for the Long Beach house on Nov. 10 — and somehow it was $390 more than the previous month.

I am not paying any of my bills, that much I promise,” said Saporta. “They can put me into collections, and I’ll fight them tooth-and-nail.

“It’s simply criminal.”
Now wait just a minute.  LIPA makes a bad decision to send out estimated bills.  They are hard to get on the phone right now to straighten things out.  Infuriating?  Absolutely.  Criminal?  No.  What is criminal, is refusing to pay for something that you used.  I'm not saying Saporta should pay all of the bills in full, I am saying that he pays the bill for his new place.  If you will note, he moved into his new home at the beginning of October, 28 days BEFORE Sandy - heck, he moved his service on September 26th, over a month before Sandy - on what grounds does he think that he shouldn't pay that bill?

He could probably spend a few minutes with the bills and a calculator and figure out about what he owes on the other two places, or look at past bills and pro-rate the amounts based on the dates prior to the storm and how long the power was out and/or unused.

It is quite simple, really, to pay the bills you owe, to dispute the ones you don't, and save yourself a certain loss in court, when the judge reads your published-in-the-newspaper ultimatum spelling out that you didn't pay your bona fide bills in protest of the ones you didn't owe.

I am sorry that you suffered a loss due to the storm, but that doesn't give you a free pass on the cost of life.

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