Manager’s Report – October 2017
Down the line
Dear Co-op Community Members:
We owe you an apology. Specifically, we apologize to those members–about 15% of you—for the confusion on your August bill that said you were past due. It was a bill printing error, not an accounting error. That is to say, the “past due” will not negatively affect your payment history with Lane Electric or your credit report.
We further apologize to all of our members for not meeting your—and our—expectations for exceptional member service. I’ll briefly describe what happened in order to assure you that we have dug down to the root cause of the error.
This year Lane Electric’s Board of Directors elected to retire two years of capital credits and return that money to you, the co-op’s membership. We worked with our enterprise software co-op, NISC, to have the credit appear on your August bill in a more noticeable location. However, in doing so the bill print software didn’t calculate the bill correctly. If you called us confused about being “past due” on your July bill payment, our Member Service Representatives heard the concern in your voice and walked you through paying your August bill.
So what happened? This year we changed how capital credits were presented on your bill. In years past, it showed up in the upper right “YourElectric Bill Information” section as a credit to your balance. This year, it showed up in the middle left “Your Energy Bill Description” section. We moved it to the bill description section because that’s where we make adjustments to your bill. And since Murphy’s Law is alive and well, in attempting to highlight your capital credits being applied to your bill, our bill printing software got confused. The software pulled the “Current Month’s Charges” amount from the July bill, compared it to the amount you actually paid (after we applied your capital credits to your account), and incorrectly called the difference a “past due” amount on your August bill.
The capital credit appeared on your August bill like we expected, but the credit had already been applied to your account towards the July bill.
Your Lane Electric team has worked through their root cause analysis and put in motion changes that will address the printing error. Next year, should the Board choose to return capital credits, we’ll be ready to make it happen smoothly.
A co-op is a community business and we are disappointed that we caused confusion in the community we serve. We want to earn the privilege of being your member-owned co-op and your Trusted Energy Advisor. That means accepting responsibility when things go wrong, and taking steps to see that it doesn’t happen again. Thank you for your patience and understanding.