When it comes to utilities, it is easy for anyone to spend more money than intended.
But one Alix area business owner is finding out that when the numbers don’t add up, it is very difficult to prove that a mistake has been made, or get utility providers to admit to making them.
Sid Morris, owner of Morris Meadows outside of Alix, was shocked this February when he received his gas bill for the January gas consumption. The balanced owed on the bill amounted to $3,789.08 – more than Morris had spent on power for all months of the previous year combined.
“You would think there is something wrong wouldn’t you?” said Morris. “I mean that’s just common sense.”
But when Morris contacted Chain Lakes Gas to inquire about the bill, he was told that no mistake had been made and he must have consumed that much gas at his property. However, Morris does not see how he could have spent more on gas in one month. Especially since the property in question, the Morris Meadows farm, was closed during that time.
Morris said that no one was on the property in the month of January and shared that information with Chain Lakes Gas as well. He even provided Chain Lakes Gas with letters from some of his employees stating that they did not work at the facility from December 2012 – February 2013 and that no events were held on the farm during that time.
Chain Lakes responded by telling Morris that the large bill was due to two reasons, said Morris. First, it had been consistently and unusually cold during the month of January. Second, Morris’ bills in November and December of 2012 were unusually low and the high February bill was to make up the difference.
But Morris said that doesn’t make sense. Weather records and reports he provided do not suggest that this January was consistently cold, nor was it unusually colder than it had been in previous years during that time. Morris added that if it had been an unusually cold winter, the gas consumption of neighbouring properties would have gone up as well.
Morris provided numbers representing what owners of neighbouring properties paid for their gas during that time. The numbers showed that there was no abnormalities in their bills as there had been with his. In addition, Morris said he did not think his bills for November and December 2012 were unusually low and provided documents to back that up. He also added that, even if his bills had been low, he does not believe they could have been low enough for any “catching up” to total more than his gas expenses for the entire previous year.
“Impossible,” said Morris. “You can’t use more in one month than you did for the previous year.”
Again, Morris shared this information with Chain Lakes and said he received a response from them saying they were willing to “give him the benefit of the doubt,” and credit him $1,496.25 – one third of the bill. Morris, also willing to give the opposing party the benefit doubt said that he would agree to the reverse – he was willing to pay a third of the bill and have Chain Lakes pay for the remaining $2,292.83.
In response to this offer, Morris received nothing, he said. But he did receive a disconnect order stating that his gas service would be disconnected on March 25 due to lack of payment. It should be noted that, while Morris only paid a third of the $3,789.08 bill for February, he continued to pay subsequent bills, he said. After Morris threatened to take the company to court, Chain Lakes Gas did not disconnect the gas and the situation is still being resolved.
Morris said he feels like he is being taken advantage of and that Chain Lakes refuses to recognize its mistake. Although multiple attempts were made to contact a representative at Chain Lakes for comment on the situation, the Lacombe Express did not receive any reply.