Service was cancelled due to a move, the account was sent to collections prior to receiving the final bill and only 20 days after the last payment.
Account Number: XXXXXXXXXX Cancellation of service was to begin on 7/22/14. I personally contacted Duke and I was informed that a final bill would be sent. I provided a temporary, forwarding, mailing address. I received a billing statement and a payment was made on 8/4/2014 for, what I believed was the final statement. I personally called Duke two times to confirm that I had paid the final bill and was never informed of anything outstanding. On 8/26/2014 ******** a collection agency issued a letter that the account was sent to collections. As my forwarding address was temporary, I did not obtain this letter until the second week in Sept. Regardless, what business sends it's customers to collections prior to a 30 day notice? A payment was made on 8/4 in accordance with the last billing statement, yet the account was sent to collections prior to 8/24! This is an unethical collections practice. Not only is it unethical, the company failed to tell me of the outstanding balance during two phone calls, that I made to them as I wanted to ensure that the account was paid in full. Upon receipt of the letter from ******** the bill was paid in full. So the account is now showing that it is closed. However, due to Duke's unethical collections practice, my credit, which was previously in excellent standing, is now blemished. I contacted Duke on two occasions to have the matter resolved. First I was informed that it had never been sent to collections, at that time I did not have the actual letter from ******* in hand, the information addressed in the letter was verbally given to me by a friend whose mailing address I was using temporarily until I found a permanent residence. As such, I could not verify that it had in fact been sent to collections and could only go on the supervisor at the call center's word that it had not been sent. I obtained the letter from ******* today from my friend and called Duke again, to have them correct the error. This was my second call to them to have the matter resolved and I was told that they could not. I was informed that I would have to contact the collection company to have the matter resolved. This is unacceptable. Duke unethically sent my account to collections, with a payment window of less than 30 days. Most companies allow a 45 day window for billing and collections isn't an option until bills are outstanding over 60 days. Duke's collection practices and process needs to be reviewed and changed so that they are acting in accordance with fair and ethical ******** practices. I expect Duke to resolve the issue and clear my credit. Duke needs to contact the agency to whom they sent my information, ensure that my credit standing is still excellent and provide me with a letter from both Duke and ******* saying such. It should not be my responsibility to correct Duke's error and unfair and unethical collection practices. Duke's current practices are ruining lives.
As stated above, I expect Duke to contact ******* and inform them to clear my credit with ALL credit reporting bureaus, as this was Duke's error and Duke needs to take responsibility for it. In addition, I want a letter from both Duke and ******* stating the error so that I have it for my records. This is the only resolution so that if I apply for credit, for a mortgage or a loan etc, that I would have proof from both organizations showing it was a mistake and that my credit is good. I also expect Duke to revisit their collection practices and to make changes across their organization so that they do not unfairly and unethically ruin other people's credit. They need to change their business practices so that they are complying with fair and ethical credit reporting practices.
We received the complaint above and are investigating. Once we gather the information we will contact the customer to discuss. Please let us know if you have questions while we investigate. Thank you.
***** *** *******
Initial ******** Rebuttal
(The ******** indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
Duke finally contacted me. *****, above said representative, stated that he will be posting on the BBB site to state that the matter has been resolved, but it has not. According to Duke they don't believe there is a problem because they "say" that I was not sent to collections. This is untrue as I received a letter from ******* (a collections agency) about my account. The issue has not been resolved. The issue is thus: 1. They claim to have mailed a final bill, one that I did not receive. 2. Regardless, of wether that bill was mailed or not, it is the principal of the matter that is at hand. First: Once I closed my account, their billing procedures changed, without notifying me of such. For the previous 3 years a bill was issued for electrical charges due one month from the date of use. The final bill did not follow the same procedure, it was due along with the preceding month's bill, without notification. This bill should have followed the same billing procedures as that of the preceding 3 years, and should have been due in the month of August. According to *****, the representative who contacted me, my final bill was in fact due on 8/18/14. (Though I never got this bill, nor did anyone notify me of this bill.) Again, regardless, their collection company (*******) processed a letter to me on 8/25/14, not even giving a 10 day grace period from the due date! This is extremely inappropriate and in my perspective an unethical credit/collections process. My information should not have been sent to collections until the bill was at least past due by 60 days, at minimum even 45 days, not 7 days past due! (The accepted norm is 180 days, while some companies use 90 days! Duke obviously does not oblige to this.) 3. During the phone conversations with Duke in July/Aug/&Sept no one advised me of what the final bill was, nor when it was due. 4. Duke claims that it isn't an issue because I was not sent to collections. They are willing to write such on the BBB complaint, but they refuse to send me the same in writing. This is unacceptable. If they are willing to put it in writing to resolve a BBB complaint to save their BBB reputation and rating, why aren't they willing to do the same for their customer, who is the one with the grievance? There is absolutely no reason why they can not send the same,to me, in writing. I am their customer with whom they have practiced unethical credit reporting. Having such a letter from them, and from their collection agency *******, will ensure that I have proof that my account was "not" sent to collections as they say, and would be proof that my account was in fact in good standing especially if I should apply for a loan and this shows up on my credit report. Duke would rather have me take the initiative and get a credit report, "to prove to them" that my credit was not affected! Again, unacceptable! They are more than willing to write such a letter to clear their BBB rating, but they will not take the initiative, nor the responsibility, to ensure that their ******** will not have any future issues with credit for their error. Finally, this is about principal and appropriate and ethical fair business and credit reporting practices. Duke is a huge company who obviously is more concerned with how they appear than with how they "act" with their consumers. Policies and procedures need to be looked into by upper management to ensure that their consumers are protected, not abused. Until I obtain a letter from both Duke and ******* stating what ***** shared with me on the phone, "that my credit was not sent to collections", the matter will remain unresolved. It was sent to their collections partner, I have a letter to prove it from *******. If they are willing to state it to me on the phone that my credit is good, and that it won't appear on my credit, and if they are willing to state the same to the BBB, then they should have no issue with sending me the same in writing so that I have proof that they didn't ruin my credit.
Final Business Response
I contacted Ms. ******* and discussed her concerned. Ms. ******* cancelled her service with Duke Energy on July 22, 2014 and we sent her a final bill on 7/23 for a total balance of $155.24 with a due date of 8/18/2014.
We forwarded the final bill dated 7/23 to the forwarding address that she provided. On 8/4/14 Ms. ******* made a payment of $80.32 leaving an outstanding balance of $74.92 which was due by 8/18/14. We sent another final bill on 8/18 for the outstanding balance of 74.92 still due by 8/18.
When the 8/18 due date went by and the payment was not received, a letter was generated out of ******* (our collection contractor). This is normal process for accounts that have been disconnected by the customer.
When the person cancels the service the billing cycle is not the same as if the account is still active because there will be no more future cycles.
The letter that Ms. ***** received from ******* is not a collection letter, it is sent with the intention of notifying the person that the account is no longer active and that there is still an unpaid balance. It does not affect the person's credit nor it goes anywhere for reporting.
The letter is an informational notice. I attempted to explain the above to Ms. *******, but she kept insisting that Duke Energy has to send a letter to repair her credit.
I explained that Duke Energy cannot repair what is not damage and that Duke Energy will not send a letter. I rechecked the process with our Receivables Management and they explained that Duke Energy will be happy to send a letter to Ms. ******* when she can produce the proof that her credit has been affected.
Ms. ******* paid all balances in full ($75.67) and the accounts and processes in her name have been closed. Unfortunately, there is nothing else we can do. We regret the inconvenience and we are closing this complaint. Please let us know if you have additional questions. Thank you.