A caution to TXU customers…

If, like me, you’re using TXU’s recurring billing payment system…

Don’t rely on their website. If there is a problem with your automatic payment, you won’t know about it from viewing your account status on their website. Once the payment is charged, your account balance shows as zero.

When your next month’s bill comes through, it will look much higher than normal. And if you view that bill, it will show a previous balance, a payment, and a new balance. No indication of a returned/failed payment.

If, like me, you spot this and call them, you had better hope you don’t get a representative with English as a 3rd or 5th language. It seems their internal system isn’t much better, and if they don’t bother to look hard, they won’t see that a payment was returned either.

So I was told that my payment just hadn’t gone through yet. Not “failed” or “returned”. Not “overdue”.

IF YOU CALL TXU ABOUT BILLING ISSUES, MAKE ABSOLUTELY DAMN SURE THAT YOU GET THAT ID BADGE NUMBER FROM THE PERSON YOU SPEAK TO, OR YOU WILL BE USWAP IF YOU HAVE TO LODGE A COMPLAINT LATER.

I got disconnected last month. It was quite a – no pun intended – shock, because just two days just before I had checked my TXU account online for any signs of problems.

I actually happened to be looking out the window at the guy disconnecting me when the power went off.  So I called TXU immediately. Under normal circumstances, Oncor would have gotten me reconnected before mid-day.

But the rep I spoke to didn’t file my paperwork until ~7 hours later. The rep I spoke to at 11pm, then promised to have someone call me in the morning to clarify what had happened, and that I’d be reconnected by mid day the next day.

No return call, and the next rep, after 40 minutes of explaining, re-explaining and going on hold, told me that I just needed to call Oncor. That took another 35 minutes of hold only to be told “we haven’t received an order from TXU”.

Back to TXU, only by this point it was gone mid-day. Sure, it was 105f and outside and I’d had no power for over 24 hours, but TXU weren’t prepared to push the reconnection forward so I had to wait until the next day to finally get reconnected.

And still pay the ~$16 in disconnect/reconnect fees, plus a $25 “returned check” fee and a $4 fee for talking to a representative to process my payment. (I tried using the free automated pay-by-phone system but first time round it didn’t recognize the phone I was calling from and second it told me an error had occurred and put me through to a rep, and I wanted to get the payment thru before the Oncor guy left).

Ultimately … the reason that after 7 years as a TXU customer I suddenly got disconnected twice is down to this:

Their automated billing system is crappy:

When I first updated my credit card details, 4 (5?) months ago, it told me that my new details would not take effect until the next billing cycle.

The exact wording left me with the impression that my next payment would be made with the old (cancelled and shortly to be expired) credit card. So I made a manual payment.

And there’s the catch. It seems the TXU recurring billing system wants to make “one last charge” before it picks up your new details. So rather than smoothing things over, my manual payment delayed the inevitable failed attempt until the next month when I had figured it done and dealt with.

Now – there is some blame I have to accept: TXU did send me a paper notice and a disconnection fee, neither of which I processed. The notice was in the form of a regular statement with the usual “don’t bother reading this bit” space replaced with some inobtrusive blurb that – on closer inspection (ode to my recent lack of house cleaning, I actually found the thing) was indicating my payment hadn’t gone through.

It wasn’t in red, it wasn’t in big bold letters. It didn’t in any way differ from the ordinary layout of the thing.

It wasn’t in a different envelope: it was packaged exactly like every other bit of TXU junk mail – the special offers, the fee changes, the thank you for being a customer letters, etc, etc, etc. There was a good hour+ of reading material in the envelope.

Nor was there anything distinct or unusual about the disconnection letter, infact it looked exactly like every other “we’re glad you’re a customer” type letter that TXU spams us with.

Since moving to Texas 7 years ago, I’ve only ever missed one other payment with any other company – that was with Comcast, again when credit cards changed. I couldn’t update my account for some reason when I was going through updating all of my online accounts, and after that I just plain forgot: mea culpa.

Back then I thought Comcast‘s online account system was pretty damned awful, but when I missed that payment, it sent me an email; when I went to my account, it clearly drew my attention to the fact that my payment had not gone through.

TXU’s site? I guess maybe they’re trying to save electricity by using less CPU cycles or something…

5 Comments

It’s why I pay manually with them with a credit card.

And what is this service for? To make life easier? Big fail! Time to move on Oli, disengage.
The only Bill I have to manually pay is rent, the rest is taken care of through the individual websites. This will not work for you?

Stang: It’s worked for nearly 7 years, until my CC changed. And then it became a problem. And then mostly just a coincidence of timing. But I am the guy that software likes to break in obscure ways for =/

Also, I think TXU is the only electric company I can get in my apartments. I get a fairly good price, it all comes down to whether or not I can get the automatic payment going properly again without getting cut off. If I can, then I’ll be golden until I move out of these apartments.

If I can’t, then yeah, I just have to go to manual payments for now.

Other than TXU only my rent is manual.

Oh, oops, my bad.
I didn’t understand what TXU was. I thought it was some unified billing service. I get it now, Texas Utilities.. duh *blush*

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

[…] August 11, 2010 kfsone Leave a comment Go to comments I wrote a detailed complaint to TXU about my bodged-up disconnection experience last month (recap: manual payment caused auto-pay to carry old credit card info over another month, bagging me […]

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