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."
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