Customers of Reliant Energy received their December bills as usual. They probably freaked a bit at the price (as usual), but paid up.
Then they received another bill for December.
Not to worry, Reliant says -- they were just confused by the whole complicated process whereby 2008 becomes 2009. It involves putting an entirely different number at the end of a four-digit figure, so you can see where the befuddlement might arise.
"A number of our e-bill customers were affected by a computer system issue that caused duplicate bills to be sent out just after New Year's," spokeswoman Patricia Hammond tells Hair Balls. "We identified the issue within a few hours and stopped the duplicate email notices immediately."
In Reliant's defense, they got the first three numbers of the year correct.
No one ended up being double-billed if they were signed up for automatic pay, Hammond says.
A letter sent out to affected customers said the glitch "occurred due to a system error caused by the change in year."
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So how many customers were affected, and at least momentarily thought they were out even more hundreds of dollars?
"We do not typically release that type of information," Hammond says.
-- Richard Connelly