The electric company at the country house (Central Hudson) has me on a "budget plan", you know, one of those deals where you pay a set amount every month based on your past and projected usage. The budget amount is refigured in July every year.
Their bill is a mystery, not the least bit intuitive. See if you can figure out what any of this means:
Budget installment for June ....................... $164.00
Total charges to date................................... $632.26
Total installments billed to date.................. $1,808.97
Total payments to date................................ -$1,647.92
Account balance......................................... -$1,015.66
Total amount due now................................ $164.00
Late charges added after July 14, 2015
Pay particular attention to the negative numbers up there. Those are credits to my account.
I have used $632.26 worth of electricity since July of last year, for which they have billed me $1,808.97, I have paid $1,647.92, and I have a credit in my account of $1,015.66. (Even those numbers I don't understand, since at the end of the budget cycle last year I had about $750 credit, which was then used to make the first few payments of this budget cycle, and I don't know how that fits into those figures up there.)
Now, they want me to pay the $164.00 for June, EVEN THOUGH I have a credit of $1,015.66.
So I called.
Well, according to Central Hudson, I have to pay the budget amount every month because that's the way the budget system works. No, they can't take it from the credit this cycle. They can use it when the next cycle begins. Oh, and by the way, I will owe a late charge for this month since it's past the payment date.
LATE CHARGE????!!!! When I have a credit over a thousand dollars???? On which, may I point out, you are keeping, earning interest on, and not paying ME interest????!!!! And the budget amount is ridiculous anyway. The electric usage at that house hasn't changed significantly in at least two years, so I don't know what you based the budget amount on. Last year I ended up with a huge credit, too, which I repeat, you did't pay me interest for.
So, later this month, when the "invitation" to go on another budget plan arrives, I will call and ask to be taken off budget. I want to pay for my actual usage. (Um, no, I can't go off the budget plan now, I have to wait for this cycle to end.) Lord, save me from bureaucrats!
That "actual usage" is another sore point.
They read the meter every two months, so every other bill has a chart with bars showing usage. A white bar indicates an estimated (not actual) reading, and a black bar shows an actual reading, and it covers a year, and includes a comparison to the previous year. I call BS on that "actual reading" crap! The meter reader has to go around the garage and down the side of the house to get to the meter. There was snow there all winter, and there were NO footprints in the snow. None. I had asked the Hairless Hunk to check, and he said nope. But the bill shows actual for every one of the readings.
Second point of BS, the fluctuations in readings - down in the winter, and way up in the summer, exactly as if A/C were in play. But until two weeks ago, that house did not have A/C. With 4 nightlights and a refrigerator which is not being opened being the only things running when I'm not there, that's simply not believable. Even when I am there, there's one light on at a time (I don't leave lights on when I'm not using them), the furnace fan, the TV, and my notebook, minimal use of the microwave, and the refrigerator opened maybe four times a day. Some increase is expected, but the major boost in usage between winter and summer just isn't believable. I do not believe they're really reading my meter. Not as often as they claim, anyway.
Just another reason to go off budget and start paying as I use.
And start reading the meter myself to check their numbers.