It’s Electric, as in the Chair.

I asked for blog ideas on twitter today, and this was one of the responses I got.
Moopigpoo:@Marinaisgo Any news on the utility mishap? I may have missed it, but I’m curious and nosy and redundant and bored.

Here’s the deal. When we moved here, our electric bill was a lot higher than it had been in Anaheim. But we had a private electric company in Hawthorne, whereas before we had been on the Anaheim public utilities, and I’d heard nasty things from my friends about our new electric company, so I kind of just assumed that it was the cost of living in LA where everything is better than Anaheim, even the electricity.
I supposed I should tell you that our apartment used to be a 5 bedroom, 2 bath unit, and before we moved in, it was split up into our 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom unit and two smaller 1 bedroom units. So in June, when our neighbor moved in and our electricity usage spiked by 50%, I became suspicious. I had the electric company check the meter, they said it was right. I asked about whether or not they could tell if I was paying for my neighbors electricity. The lady at the electric company told me to turn the breakers off in my house and if the electricity went off in other apartments, I was paying for their shit. I did, it did.
So, we learned that I was indeed paying for someone else’s electricity. In fact, In addition to my apartment, I’ve been paying the electric bill for 2 and 1/2 other apartments. And as a cherry on that Sundae, my playing with the breakers in our apartment broke our fridge and I came home to everything melted and spoiled on the same day I realized that I was 5 days to payday with $10 in my account. I had about $35 in my savings, so I took $15 of that and thanks to pasta, and my habit of buying my lunches all on Monday, we lived through the week just fine. (If you’re wondering why I didn’t just buy food with my credit card: I don’t have one.)
So, I think that I have my apartment complex over a barrel. I’m clearly paying for the electricity of my neighbors, and our awesome and nice maintenance guy told me that the complex used to pay the electric bill for my unit for this very reason. I understand that the complex came into new ownership a little while before we moved in, so maybe they didn’t know about that. If I was trying to dump that dump, I would keep something like that to myself. Especially in this economy.
Anyway, our fridge got replaced with a working one. We may or may not get our old fridge back, which we actually own, unlike this new fridge. On Friday, I was asked to email my electric bill to the property manager, who is stationed in an office in Irvine, about an hour to hour and a half drive away from us. I did this, and emailed her again today to see how she was coming on a solution to the electricity problem. I know that in California, the rights lie heavily on the side of the tenant… if said tenant can afford the legal fees to ensure those rights.

I’ve already stated that we live in kind of a dump. We’re not “sue now, ask questions later” kind of people. We can’t afford to be. So for the time being, I’m being really nice to everybody. I did call the electric company again, and this time I got a much smarter lady on the phone who told me that they could perform something called a ‘load check’ on my electricity in order to find out exactly who is using my electricity.

There are a lot of things that could happen from here. I hope that it’s resolved and that our complex pays for my electric bill, and hopefully that they reimburse me at least partially for what I’ve spent on other people’s electricity so far. They could try to evict me, or try to play dirty. They could just lead me on, making me pay continually for my neighbors electricity, bills I can’t afford, until I’m forced to break lease or miss rent.
Thanks to the dispute with the electric company, I’ve only had to pay one $180 bill so far, the other one is on hold until September, at which point there will not only be August’s $180 bill but also September’s. This morning I saw someone moving into one of the other apartments I pay the electric bill for, so by September it’ll be even higher than that.
Despite the rather slow movement in this issue, I think that we’re coming to a resolution. If nothing else, the electric company coming out will give me some evidence on my side that I do really pay for those other apartments. And maybe if they come out and find that I’m paying for other apartments, there will be some course of action that the company itself will take with my complex.
My hope is that this will be over in a few days, but I’m prepared for it not to be. So far, I’ve stayed really calm through the whole thing, I haven’t gotten mad or mouthy, just insistent and consistent with my questions and my requests.

2 Replies to “It’s Electric, as in the Chair.

  1. Well I recently went through something similar. I live in PA and in PA it is against the LAW to be paying for someone else’s electric. I moved into a 4 bedroom home from a 2 bedroom home and my electric bill went from 30.00 to 180.00. Two of the bedrooms are never used and we don’t use a lot of electric. I called the electric company back in March and they sent me a spread sheet of my electric usage. I couldn’t figure out why I was paying double than what my mother was paying for her 3 bedroom home, with 3 bathrooms and 2 kitchens. It didn’t make sense. So I called the electric company a few weeks ago and the new representative told me about the breaker test. She said to “Turn off your breaker and see who doesn’t have power.” So my upstairs neighbor lost power to her master bedroom, hallway, kids playroom and bathroom. I was paying for more than 1/2 of her apartment. No freaking wonder!! I called the electric company and they told me that if it is hooked up wrong that my landlord was responsible for the balance on my account. They would need to come and inspect with him there. Well the day of inspection an electrician comes and fixes the problem and guess what? Since the problem was fixed with before the electric company got there – the bill no longer goes in my landlord’s name. EVEN though he told the electric company he had it fixed that morning.

    Now the electric company says – I am sorry m’aam, but there wasn’t a problem when we got there. So for 9 months now – I have been paying for the upstairs apartment electricity and since my landlord fixed it before they inspected – it is okay.

    UGH – I am so upset right now. I got mad today – I flipped out. Now I am calling the PA Utility Commission.

  2. Kelly, that really sucks. It ended up getting resolved for us. We were reimbursed everything above $55 a month that we paid since we moved in, the apartment company will take over our electric bill and charge us $55 a month in perpetuity for our share.

    I hope it works out for you. I think that being patient and nice really helped me get this done with my landlords.

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