Problem Solvers: Cell phone number leads to utility billing confusion, frustration

Problem Solvers
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It started with an automated message on Carol Johnson’s phone saying she owed $600 to Kansas City Power & Light company.

“So I ignored that,”said the 65-year-old Johnson, who lives in Kansas and pays BPU for her electricity, not KCP&L.

But KCP&L was persistent. The next month she received a text telling her she now owed $700.

“The next month they texted me again,” Johnson said.

In fact each month there was a new text, with a new and growing balance. According to the text, Johnson now owes KCP&L $1,300.

Johnson said she tried calling KCP&L to explain that she wasn’t a customer. The first time she called, she was put on hold and, while she was on hold, the call was disconnected. So she called back.

The same thing happened. That’s when she called FOX 4 Problem Solvers.

We called KCP&L and explained Mrs. Johnson’s predicament. A spokeswoman for KCP&L apologized and said the text messages Mrs. Johnson was receiving came from the utility’s automated payment alert system. Even though Mrs. Johnson has never been a KCP&L customer, her cell phone number apparently once belonged to a customer who is, it’s safe to say, way behind on payments.

So what can Mrs. Johnson do to extricate her cell phone number from KCP&L’s automated clutches? KCP&L told us all Mrs. Johnson has to do is call and explain the problem. We pointed out that Mrs. Johnson had tried to do just that, but kept getting disconnected. KCP&L reviewed its phone records and says the disconnections appeared to have happened on Mrs. Johnson’s end.

Meanwhile, it immediately removed Mrs. Johnson’s phone number form its payment alert system. It even sent her a text telling her that. This time, it’s a text she was happy to receive.

If you are also getting text messages or phone calls from a company you have no business relationship with, you need to tell them (and put it in writing if possible) to stop calling you. If that doesn’t work, you can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission or the Federal Trade Commission.

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