Author Topic: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else  (Read 3956 times)

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oceanus

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Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« on: December 25, 2012, 09:17:50 PM »
I just got off the phone with a good friend; we were touching base about our Christmas.  She told me sheís a bit worried about the young couple she occasionally uses for housecleaning.  She said on Christmas Eve she dropped off a small gift and asked if she could use the restroom.  On the bathroom floor was a small pile of bills, one was a notice from the electric company that if they donít pay (whatever) by Dec. 28 (Friday) service may be discontinued.  She didnít say anything Ė just left.

Sheíd like to help, but doesnít want to say anything.  Although it doesnít sound like she was snooping, she doesnít want them to know she saw the bill.  She has known them for a couple of years.

I said itís possible payment, or arrangements, have been made.  My advice was if she really wants to help (as an additional gift, not a loan) call the electric company tomorrow, try to find out what it will take to keep service on, and if she still wants to help then ask if she can do so via credit card as an anonymous gift.  I think thatís very generous.  OTOH, our city has a program where people can donate to a fund to help those struggling to pay utilities.  (I would think that may have been mentioned to them.)  But, itís tricky because of privacy the electric company may not reveal this to my friend.  Suggestions?

Sharnita

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Re: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2012, 09:20:46 PM »
Does she know for certain that it was lack of money that was the problem and not that they just got behind or let time slip away from them?

oceanus

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Re: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2012, 09:37:13 PM »
Does she know for certain that it was lack of money that was the problem and not that they just got behind or let time slip away from them?

No, I don't think she knows any more details about their bills.  (wife is expecting and not employed except for cleaning houses; they've moved around a lot).
« Last Edit: December 25, 2012, 09:40:12 PM by oceanus »

MommyPenguin

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Re: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2012, 09:48:57 PM »
If it says that service may be discontinued, I doubt it's a matter of just forgetting.  Usually you get a number of warnings for an "essential" service before they'll cut it off, and they have a lot of specific guidelines about cutting people off (for electric, gas, and water, because electricity or gas may provide essential heat in winter, and water is, well, kinda essential to life).  So if it says they're being cut off, my guess is they're probably pretty far behind.

I think she could certainly call the electric company and ask if she could pay the bill, but they may not be able or willing to give her the information.  They might be willing to apply money to the account as an anonymous donation without telling her how much is owed, but depending on how generous she is able or willing to be, this may or may not help them.  However, even if it ends up being less than the total that is owed, it might "reset the clock" on how long they have to pay the bill, since some part of the bill was paid, so it could help them in that sense.  I guess it couldn't hurt to call the electric company and see what she could do.  The worst they could do would be to say no, right?  I doubt the company would call the couple to report the snoop.

Slartibartfast

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Re: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2012, 10:22:37 PM »
If it says that service may be discontinued, I doubt it's a matter of just forgetting.  Usually you get a number of warnings for an "essential" service before they'll cut it off, and they have a lot of specific guidelines about cutting people off (for electric, gas, and water, because electricity or gas may provide essential heat in winter, and water is, well, kinda essential to life).  So if it says they're being cut off, my guess is they're probably pretty far behind.

Not necessarily true - our utility company starts sending threatening letters which mention getting cut off if you're more than about a week late paying.  I think the notices get sent automatically if you miss the "overdue" date.  That doesn't mean you actually get cut off then, mind you, but the threats may very well start early.

norrina

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Re: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2012, 11:22:24 PM »
If it says that service may be discontinued, I doubt it's a matter of just forgetting.  Usually you get a number of warnings for an "essential" service before they'll cut it off, and they have a lot of specific guidelines about cutting people off (for electric, gas, and water, because electricity or gas may provide essential heat in winter, and water is, well, kinda essential to life).  So if it says they're being cut off, my guess is they're probably pretty far behind.

Not necessarily true - our utility company starts sending threatening letters which mention getting cut off if you're more than about a week late paying.  I think the notices get sent automatically if you miss the "overdue" date.  That doesn't mean you actually get cut off then, mind you, but the threats may very well start early.

DF's power was cut off a couple years ago. We were long-distance then, and I was in town visiting when it happened. He was at work for the day, and I came home from running some errands to find a notice on the door and no power. I called him at work to relay the circumstances, and asked if he needed me to go take care of it (partly because I had the day free to deal with such things, largely because I didn't know if he didn't have the money in the bank), but he said no, he had a check written and just kept forgetting to take in to the payment center. So it IS possible to ignore reminders, if the company sends them at all. DF and I both are the  type to leave mail laying around, but I never noticed any warnings or notices from the power company.



CookieChica

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Re: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2012, 12:24:46 AM »
If it says that service may be discontinued, I doubt it's a matter of just forgetting.  Usually you get a number of warnings for an "essential" service before they'll cut it off, and they have a lot of specific guidelines about cutting people off (for electric, gas, and water, because electricity or gas may provide essential heat in winter, and water is, well, kinda essential to life).  So if it says they're being cut off, my guess is they're probably pretty far behind.

Not necessarily true - our utility company starts sending threatening letters which mention getting cut off if you're more than about a week late paying.  I think the notices get sent automatically if you miss the "overdue" date.  That doesn't mean you actually get cut off then, mind you, but the threats may very well start early.

DF's power was cut off a couple years ago. We were long-distance then, and I was in town visiting when it happened. He was at work for the day, and I came home from running some errands to find a notice on the door and no power. I called him at work to relay the circumstances, and asked if he needed me to go take care of it (partly because I had the day free to deal with such things, largely because I didn't know if he didn't have the money in the bank), but he said no, he had a check written and just kept forgetting to take in to the payment center. So it IS possible to ignore reminders, if the company sends them at all. DF and I both are the  type to leave mail laying around, but I never noticed any warnings or notices from the power company.

Yep, I just got one yesterday (for a bill I actually mailed out on Friday). So that's a possibility too. I am terrible with paying my bills on time which is so incredibly stupid and a waste of money on my part although I've never lost service. Often if you pay a bill too close to the due date or on the due date, a disconnect notice will have already have gone out.

WestAussieGirl

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Re: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2012, 03:29:46 AM »
I work for an electricity company and have worked for several other utilities in the past.  In my experience notices that say you may be disconnected are a reminder or second reminder.  A disconnection notice tells you that you will be disconnected and the date.  I have never worked at a utility that disconnects between a few days before Christmas and New Year (since they are usually working with fewer staff and can't get reconnections done quickly enough) so I doubt it was a true warning (yet).  Also, depending on where they are they won't actually disconnect in winter at all (if it is somewhere that gets regular snow/ice).

I think it is very unlikely that the electricity company would provide any information to your friend unless she took down the account number (and then only if she pretended to be the account holder).  She could send a cheque with the name and address of the account holder which would get posted to the account but without the account number it would be manually processed so probably would not be there before the 28th.

If I were her and really wanted to help, I would maybe help them out with groceries or something so they could redirect their budget to the electricity.

cicero

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Re: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2012, 05:41:31 AM »
 i think that while her heart is in the right place, there is an element of snoopyness here. she inadvertently saw a piece of someone's mail, i don't think it's ok for her to call the elec company on their behalf. if it were me, i would feel very uncomfortable if my sometime's employer paid a bill on my behalf because they thought i couldn't do it on my own.

if she wants to help, and she knows that they are in a bad way financially, maybe she can give them a grocery card, or let local social services know that they are expecting and may be in a bad way financially.


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katycoo

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Re: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2012, 06:47:44 AM »
If you want to help them financially, employ their services.  Its the best way to help without being snoopy.

onyonryngs

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Re: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2012, 09:55:45 AM »
I'm surprised she stopped by to give them a gift.  I have no idea where my cleaning lady even lives.  If she wants to give them money, just start tipping more.

CaptainObvious

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Re: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2012, 09:57:58 AM »
She needs to mind her own business, unless she also saw their bank statement, she has no idea as to their financial situation. There could be 20 different reasons why they received that notice.

rose red

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Re: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2012, 10:28:58 AM »
If you really want to help, give them a gift card or a check as a "yearly bonus."  I don't think it's right to call the electric company regarding someone else's account.

miranova

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Re: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2012, 11:33:21 AM »
If you really want to help, give them a gift card or a check as a "yearly bonus."  I don't think it's right to call the electric company regarding someone else's account.

I agree with this.  I think her heart is really in the right place and I think that is admirable.  But calling the electric company on someone else's behalf without them knowing is just not a good idea and could backfire.  If she is truly concerned about them and wants to help a yearly bonus is perfect...that way it helps if they really need help and it does not come accross as "I know you can't pay your bills yourself".

Sharnita

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Re: Wants to pay electric bill for someone else
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2012, 11:34:51 AM »
Since she already gave them a Christmas gift is there any way she could add a cleaning job for New Yeat's Eve with extra pay?