This Texas Woman Got a $1.3 Million Electric Bill

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Electric Bill

By MANDI WOODRUFF


For Abilene, TX. resident Kristin Harriger, skipping bills is out of the question, even when summertime sends her electric bill soaring.

"I work on a budget. I'm a single mom with an autistic child who tries to make ends meet," she told Business Insider.
"I get my bills and I pay them."

That was until this month's electric bill turned up in the mail. Rather than the $100 or so she anticipated, she was in for a shock.

Balance due: $1,381,783.92.

The bill was so enormous she figured it was a joke and texted photos around to friends. When she called the utility company, Potentia Energy, representatives readily admitted it was a computing error that somehow managed to slip through a third party auditor.

Rather than charging the usual $0.09 per kilowatt hour (kWh), Harriger had been billed a whopping 100,000 cents ($1,000) per kwh.

"I'm glad I didn't have autopayments (set up), I'll tell you that," she said.

The company promised she'd receive a corrected bill in the mail within 48 hours. That was more than two weeks ago.

"I'm still waiting," said Harriger, who usually pays her bills early and online. "I've been with this company for almost a year and a half and I've never had a bill like this."

We reached out to the company, which said it's definitely on track to have the bill to Harriger this week.

"When Ms. Harriger informed us of the erroneous bill, we responded within five minutes and assured her that we would rectify the situation, which is what we have done," said Sehr Charania, external affairs officer. "I have confirmed that the erroneous bill has been rectified and a new/correct invoice has been issued in its place as of this week. Ms. Harriger should be receiving it in her mail shortly."

The situation will surely work itself out––there's no way Harriger will be on the hook for any late fees on this one––but in the meantime, she's not taking any chances.

"I gave $150 to my dad to hold on to for the bill," she said. "If I know that money's in my account, I'm one of those people who's going to spend it."

Smart move.

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153 Comments

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abudotcom

Well, everything is bigger in Texas....

June 21 2012 at 9:44 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Dumitru

I clicked on it because I thought it would be something like, Thieves steal electricity, find way to bill hapless customer, company refuses to back down, takes house and goldfish as insurance against bill......

Not, oops, we billed her wrongly....

June 21 2012 at 6:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sylvie

Mistakes happen. It was appropriately handled. Move on Little Dogie!

June 21 2012 at 5:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ED

you never auto-pay any bills just for that reason...it would have wiped her bank account out and actually brought down things on her that she would have been paying for a long time. Auto pay is like telling the creditor or whatever it is that i trust you not to make any kind of mistake and just go ahead and take what you want from my account..NEVER, trust auto pay!! i have heard of too many instances that there was problems and the person was fighting for months to get the money back from the creditor/utility or whatever the auto pay was to. once they have the money, it is your responsibility to prove them wrong instead of them proving to you that they are wrong before you pay....NOOOOOO, never, never, never, trust anyone on auto pay!!! in auto pay the responsibility is reversed and you will have trouble getting your money refunded!!

June 21 2012 at 5:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tinroofrustedfr

A error that didn't need to be made news worthy.

June 21 2012 at 4:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jazzzy

Zaticon1 IF you had read the article correctly you would know that the reason for the huge bill was NOT because of her choice of use in bulbs. The error was in fact in the billing>>>(Rather than charging the usual $0.09 per kilowatt hour (kWh), Harriger had been billed a whopping 100,000 cents ($1,000) per kwh.) And "Mom" the reason that the child was mentioned was to prove the point that although she does have an autictic child with challenges she manages to still pay her monthly bill on time. Also, I'm sure that ANYONE who would receive a bill as huge as that one would naturally be surprised or even shocked!

June 21 2012 at 4:51 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jazzzy

Zaticon1 IF you had read the aticle correctly you will see that the error was in the billing NOT in her choice of bulbs which wasn't even mentioned so your assumption of the cause is erronous. (Rather than charging the usual $0.09 per kilowatt hour (kWh), Harriger had been billed a whopping 100,000 cents ($1,000) per kwh. ) And "Mom", the reason the child was mentioned was to prove a point that although she has an autistic child with challenges she still manages to pay her monthly bill on time. Surely anyone with a bill like that would be surprised or even shocked, I know I would be!

June 21 2012 at 4:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
purehawk1

No thanks, I'll just stick with my electric company. Wow! Their electricity must be able to wake the dead as in the Frankenstein monster at those prices.

June 21 2012 at 3:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
leavesbound

I once got an electric bill that said I owed $25k+ turns out that my landlord, without my permission, put the entire building's electric service in my name, suposedly by mistake. Also turns out, he owed for a year's worth of electric service and was about to have it turned off. It turns out he was trying to put the entire building into his brother in laws name which was alphabetically before mine on his computer. Well of course I didn't have to pay the bill but for about three days I was pretty pissed off. There should be a law requiring monetary compensation based on a percentage of the bill when a person is overcharged. I was lucky as the electric was included in my rent so I knew I was not suposed to get a bill and therefore did not have any kind of automatic payments set up but people who have an automatic payment set-up could be ruined by this. Correcting something like this could take up to a month to fix. Meanwhile a person might have bounced several checks, had multiple automatic payments denied which could have a devistating affect on credit, even if temporarily so. So if your normal bill is a $130 and you get a bill for $1.3m then you should be compensated by 10% or $129,987

June 21 2012 at 2:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mom

Please tell me why when a single parent has a child with a disability that have to include that in the story? Does it make any difference if the child was autistic or not... she is a single parent doing the best she can.. end of story. Sensationalizm...sometimes I wonder where we going with all of this.

June 21 2012 at 2:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mom's comment
tony

No 1 gives a rat`s a hole about the kid.

June 21 2012 at 4:10 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tony's comment
Don Murphy

No one gives a rat's ass about you either, obviously.

June 21 2012 at 10:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down