‘Just couldn’t believe it’: Utility company wants woman to pay for meter mistake

Anne Searle was billed “retroactively” for two years of electrical use after a “meter mix-up.”
Anne Searle was billed “retroactively” for two years of electrical use after a “meter mix-up.”(KCTV5)
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 6:46 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Imagine opening a utility bill and finding a $1,000 charge in addition to your monthly bill. That’s what happened to an Olathe grandmother. She was billed “retroactively” for two years of electrical use after a “meter mix-up.”

Anna Searle received a letter from Evergy in November. It read in part, “A recent investigation of your account revealed that an incorrect meter had been billed to your account…The error has been corrected…A one-time adjustment has been added to your account… in the amount of $1,035.35″

“I just was, I just couldn’t believe it,” said Anna.

Anna told us she didn’t want to pay legal fees and get a lawyer involved, so instead, she called KCTV5.

She told us that Evergy and a maintenance worker from the Satori Apartment complex came to her last fall suspecting that the utility meter associated with her apartment was wrong — it actually connected to a different apartment. They claimed she had underpaid for two years and that she would now have to pay the difference.

Anna said she tried to get answers, but got nowhere.

“Whose fault is this?” she asked repeatedly. “And they kept saying it could be Satori. It could be the builders, or it could be Evergy. But and I felt, no matter whose fault it was, it wasn’t mine.”

Anna requested an in-person meeting with Evergy to discuss the issue. They refused.

But she was allowed to create a payment plan to spread the costs out, but only for as long as she remained an Evergy customer. If she moved to an area outside where Evergy provides service, the total unpaid amount would be due.

She has, begrudgingly, made two payments.

“I don’t feel like I should pay anything,” said Anna. “I feel like that should be written off. Because nobody knows whose fault it was. So everybody blames everybody else. But I know I’m not to blame.”

We contact Evergy on Anna’s behalf asking them to explain how they handle cases where the customer is not to blame. We also asked how many investigations result in retroactive billing per year.

After we contacted the utility, they first offered to cut the bill in half. But Anna said that wasn’t enough. Eventually, Evergy and Anna came to an agreement.

They sent this statement:

We checked back in with Anna, who was delighted to see us.

“I’ve been very, very pleased with the outcome,” said Anna. “She said $60, which was amazing to me! I couldn’t be happier. I just felt like a big weight was taken off my shoulders.”

“You were the reason,” said Anna. “Because I never would have gotten anywhere with them.”

If you have something you want us to investigate, email us at Investigate@kctv.com.