Piedmont Triad barber shop owners sees electricity bill triple

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A Piedmont Triad business owner says he wants to see change at Duke Energy after he fought with the company for two months about his bill.

His bill nearly tripled overnight. Then after more than a half a dozen calls, Duke finally acknowledged what he had already figured out: that he was being billed for his neighbor’s usage.

“Initially I was like...I knew we didn’t burn that kind of electricity,” says Heads Up Barber and Beauty owner Rick Morton.

Thinking it was a simple mistake, he called Duke Energy over and over. He tells us their response didn’t sit right.

“They had someone come out and check the meters. The meters are fine. Everything’s good. It must be something on our end.”

He and his landlord had their HVAC guy, an inspector, and an electrician come out. When they didn’t find anything, his landlord recommended he check his meter number.

Morton said his initial meter was still calculating usage, but it just wasn’t connected to his account. He checked his bill and found his meter number had changed.

“The meter that was connected to my account was coming from a meter on the opposite side of the building, which was supposed to be connected to another tenant,” he says.

After going through at least six Duke reps in two months, Morton says he finally got one to really dig. According to him, that rep figured out the meter on his bill was reading usage from his newest neighbor --- Wingstop.

“We’re not mad at Wing Stop. We just don’t want to pay their power bill,” he says.

A Duke Energy spokesperson called this an unfortunate error on behalf of the company which has caused great inconvenience for the customer. They apologize for the experience and are committed to doing better.

The company refunded him for what he paid, and late fees associated with the incorrect billing were removed. But he says he that doesn’t change the impact this mix-up had on his business.

“Some things we really wanted to do, we had to put on hold because we had to make sure we get this issue behind us first. Some key things we wanted to do as far as getting our business off the ground and in a good start. So it’s been frustrating.”

Beyond the refund, Morton said he wants to see Duke correct its customer service so no one else has to go through what he went through.

“If we really hadn’t pushed the issue, we would’ve just still been paying this power bill that wasn’t relevant for us. So, I really feel we need to look further into this to see if it’s happening anywhere else.”

We checked the Better Business Bureau website and Duke Energy’s Facebook page and found Morton is not the only person whose been through this kind of experience with the company.

“I think if they have a complaint, they should really look into it and not try to rush people off the phone,” he says.

We took his concern to Duke and a spokesperson sent us a response that said, in part: We will use what we learn from this overall evaluation as teachable moments for our customer service and operations team, and we will look for opportunities to change processes and procedures to better the customer experience going forward."

We also reached out to Wingstop to find out whether this location has gotten a bill from Duke at any point. If not, how did nobody notice the mix-up on their end. We emailed and called their media team several times and even reached out to their vice president for marketing.

They did not respond to a request for comment.

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