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ONLY ON 3: CFPUA customers getting big bills for old, missed charges

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is no stranger to billing issues. Now the authority has found unbilled utilities, which may mean some unexpected charges for customers.

In our down economy, there’s no question that every dollar counts. What would you do if you received a bill from the CFPUA saying you owed close to $800 in unbilled expenses?”

That’s the reality for at least one Wilmington resident. Suyapa urbina says she has never missed a payment to the cape fear public utility authority. Last week though, Urbina got a letter from the authority saying she owed an additional $775.75 on her next bill for sewage expenses the CFPUA missed from August 13, 2009 to December 12, 2011.

“If they would have charged me at the time, it wouldn’t have been a problem for me to pay,” Urbina said. “But now I have to pay in full almost $800. That’s not right.”

Urbina’s landlord, Larry Hunt, says she is the most reliable tenant he has ever had. He thinks the unbilled utilities are the authority’s problem, and he says the CFPUA should be held accountable for its mistake.

“The utility company should have to bite the bullet every now and then for some errors they make,” Hunt said. “It’s just not right for the customer to be nailed with this stuff when they didn’t do a thing wrong.”

CFPUA says state statute allows it to back bill customers up to three years. During a recent data scrub it found more than $380,000 in unbilled expenses for 446 commercial and residential customers so far.

The CFPUA did reduce Urbina’s charge to $640 and offered to put her on a payment plan, but it would not do away with the whole charge.

CFPUA spokeswoman Carey Ricks declined to go on camera for this story. She could not explain how the authority missed so much billing for so long.

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