Electric MeterA few weeks ago I get a letter in the mail from the building I lease from. The letter says that since I began leasing the office (four years ago) I have not been billed for the electric I use.

They said they discovered this error while doing an audit of their electricity bill.

I then got my first bill for $436.13 for the month of February.

I had two issues with this.

(1) $436.13 seemed way too high. I asked my neighboring office, who has a bigger space and large copy machines, and they pay about $300 per month.

(2) Paying $436 for the past 48 months adds up to $20,928. I had no idea I was suppose to pay for electric and now to be hit with it, wow!

To resolve issue number one, I called them and told them it seems to high. I showed them my neighbor’s bill and we discovered that the difference was in the “demand” fee. So they decided to take the bill back and find out what the issue is.

I got a letter today that there were two reasons the bill was so high.

(1) The demand fee was set to a higher point then we needed because when the meter first went live, the surge from that initial launch, went up to a high point. They then billed me based on a demand requirement that I did not need. So they fixed that.

(2) I was on a “commercial rate” as opposed to a “small user rate.”

My new bill for the same time period is now $275.80, so the difference is a savings of 190.33 per month. Of course, each month will differ. But saving about $200 a month is nice.

Now, I need to pay for the four years I supposedly did not. Now, if I owe it, which I understand I do, I will pay it. They were very nice about how much I owe. Instead of $275.80 multiplied by 48 months, which is $13,238.40 – they are offering something less.

They said they will charge me based on a formula and it would come out to just $172.87 per month. So that comes out to $8,297.76. They said I can pay it off over a 12 month period, which is also nice. So instead of $20,928, I am saving $12,630.24. Which is nice.

What do you think I should do? Pay it all? It was on the lease agreement, but you know those things, they are huge! It was their fault for not billing me. I honestly did not know I had to pay this. So what you think?

Website Comments

  1. Caydel

    If you had honestly no way of knowing that you would have or should have been billed, and they did not bill you, then you should not be liable for paying that amount because they made the error.

    However, if it was on your lease, or somewhere else in mention, or it was even verbally communicated to you, the responsibility falls on you then.

    Of course, ‘Should be’ doesn’t matter – they probably have a clause in their service agreement you signed which indicates that you are liable to pay no what the circumstances are.

    So, if I were in your shoes, I would just pay it – they did knock a lot off that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Last thing you want to do is challenge them, have them get nasty, and then find out you don’t have a legal standing on the issue.

    My $0.02

  2. Leon Schwartz

    I would say I cannot pay now. Almost $700 per month extra is a surprise a small business can’t deal with so quickly.

    If you agree to pay for actual usage thru the end of the year, and then work a deal with them for 2008, they will make you a better offer now.

  3. SEO Mash

    I can only imagine what a shock it must have been to have received that news. Yikes!

    If it was in your lease agreement though it seems that you would be best served by buckling down and paying it. At least they have agreed to meet you half way by allowing you to pay via an installment plan. With a good enough of a lawyer maybe you could get out of the bill, but the risk of losing the case and also losing any goodwill you had with you landlord does not seem to make it worthwhile.

  4. siborg

    you better be careful what you say about being backed billed, your parenst might send you a bill for all the time you worked out of the garage.
    i dont think you paid the utilities there either.
    maybe that space is still available.

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