Consumer Justice: Electricity Bill Shocker

FORT WORTH (CBS11) – A Fort Worth woman said she paid thousands of dollars for electricity she never used.

Tina Hudson was billed more than $8,000 over two years for electricity.

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Tina Hudson  (CBS11)

Hudson said she knew her electric bills were too high, but the electric company and the apartment complex kept blaming each other, so she kept paying.

“Four hundred and forty-eight dollars,” said Hudson, “$489… I think $501 might have been my highest bill.” Hudson said she expected higher power bills in the summer, but not all year long.

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Tina Hudson’s electricity bills (CBS11)

She didn’t own a washer or dryer and her dishwasher was broken, so Hudson couldn’t understand why her electricity usage was so high.

She said she complained to workers in the property office at the La Jolla Terrace Apartments at least once a month, but Hudson said the employees would just blame the power company.

In 28 months, she paid $8,426 for electricity.

“I would literally cry sometimes because I am here by myself and there is no one for me to turn to for extra money,” Hudson said.

The apartments were sold to a new company in January. In March, Hudson’s water heater broke. That’s when maintenance workers discovered a leak.

“They cut holes in the walls, they took the faucet around the bath tub, they cut holes under the cabinet, they drilled holes in the walls.”

By April the repairs were made.

“So April 7th I went from using 133 kilowatts a day, down to 20 kilowatts a day.”

Hudson said that proved the leak was the cause of her high bills, but her attempts to get reimbursed by the property owner failed.

Consumer Justice reached out to the current and prior property owner.

A spokesman for Wehner Multi-Family said the company has only owned the complex since January and pointed out that it had repaired the problem. Wehner blamed the prior owner, Presidium, saying in an email, “This was their neglect that caused this issue to grow so much.”

A Presidium representative first told Consumer Justice they had no record of Hudson’s complaints. Later, the company analyzed Hudson’s bills and agreed to reimburse her $2,000.

Tenants’ rights attorney Michael Hindman said it’s imperative for renters to put everything in writing.

“Take a letter to the landlord or the rental office, hand it to the landlord or the rental agent,” said Hindman. “Have them sign something acknowledging that they received it, so that you have a copy and they have a copy.”

He said email often isn’t enough; in most cases a physical copy of a letter is better.

If repairs still aren’t made, Hindman suggests sending the landlord a demand for repair by certified mail or registered mail.

“The feeling that the rental office or the landlord is your friend and there to help you in you just go over nicely and ask… that means absolutely nothing,” warned Hindman.

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