Failure To Inform

I was lucky in that I caught this problem on my own.

About 10,000 area natural-gas customers thought their online payments were going through just fine.

Until the late notices began arriving in November.

While their payments were properly deducted from their bank accounts, they weren’t being credited in their names at Atmos Energy. So many called the customer-service line this week to get the matter straightened out that it caused further delays, customers said.

Blame the problem on the account changeover after Atmos acquired TXU Gas.

“The banks and payment processors were supposed to make the changes in account numbers so that online customers’ payments would go through smoothly, and in some cases, the changes weren’t made properly,” spokesman Rand LaVonn said.

Those affected should call or e-mail Atmos with their bank-account numbers. No late fee will be charged.

I think the thing that bothered me about it was that Atmos gave us absolutely no notice.  They tried to handle it themselves, and that’s good.  But they still should have told us what they were doing so we would know if something went wrong.  The only way I found out that the account number had changed was when I got the December bill and noticed that they hadn’t credited me for November, even though I knew I’d sent in the payment.  Suspecting that the change from TXU to Atmos had something to do with it I double-checked the account information that was stored in my online payment system against what was on the printed bill.  Sure enough, the billing address and account number had changed on the bill.

Even if a company intends to try to automate the account change, they MUST inform people that it’s happening.  It’s as simple as that.  They failed to do that, and now they’ve got a lot of people who are going to distrust them in the future.  If they’d been open about it, people would at least understand what was happening.

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