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High Point Electric customer offended by power bill dispute

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- A High Point man says a city customer service employee offended him while he was trying to work out a concern with his power bill.

Joshua Chavez says he's lived in his High Point apartment for four months. At the end of November he got a bill he believes was forty or fifty dollars higher than usual.

He suspected something was wrong, and went outside to check his meter. He said the numbers on the display were illegible. He assumed his meter was broken and thought that might explain a possible problem on his bill.

Chavez said High Point Electric sent a technician to check his meter the next day.

"They typically read them electronically, and I said, 'Well was it sending out a weak signal?’ He said, ‘No, it's not sending out any signal.’"

The technician apparently installed a new meter. Joshua said he was told later the old meter was inspected that there was nothing wrong with it.

Customer Service Director Bob Martin told FOX8 specific customer issues and data are not public record, but he said generally speaking, "It's possible that the display is damaged but the reading is still transmitting correctly."

Which is why Chavez still has to pay the bill. FOX8 asked Martin why they would replace a meter if it's working properly.

He said they don't know for sure if it's working until they take it back to the office and inspect it.

"Trying to address concerns, if it looks like it's damaged, we're going to pull it and test it," Martin said.

Joshua still doesn't think his bill is correct and said he met with customer service representatives at least four times.

During the latest conversation, he recorded an interaction that offended him.

On part of the recording, the employee states, "I don't know what happened to that bill. I don't know if there's a short in that apartment. I don't know if you have a space heater on. I don't know if you're running a meth lab. I don't know if you're -- what you're doing. But that meter registered a reading."

Chavez said, "It's not about the money. That's not the issue. It's a principle issue, whether it's $5 or $40."

Chavez added of the recording, "There's no justifying that degree of foolishness."

In response to our questions about the employee's interaction with Chavez, a spokesperson said in an email statement:

"If the clip of audio that WGHP provided to us reveals an exchange between a customer and a City of High Point staff member, we would like to reiterate our commitment to excellence as we deal with thousands of resident concerns and questions each year. We strive to get better each day and to provide essential services to our citizens in a professional, courteous and responsible manner."

Chavez already paid the bill so his power wouldn't be turned off and was told he will not be credited for the amount in dispute.