In what may be very unsurprising news, more and more people are struggling to try and pay their utility bills. This is especially true this winter, when record-breaking low temperatures and harsh weather conditions have caused many people’s utility bills to skyrocket.
Unfortunately, it seems that utility companies don’t have much patience when it comes to getting paid. As a recent Wall Street Journal article noted:
Utilities are becoming more aggressive about collecting money from delinquent customers, leading to a surge in service shutdowns just as economic woes are pushing up the number of households falling behind on bills.
The utilities say they are under pressure to clean out accounts that are weighing down their books at a time when their stocks are being hammered and earnings growth has slowed. Meanwhile, the increasing number of homes left without power — which could rise as economic pain deepens — is beginning to worry some consumer advocates and regulators.
In the past, many utility companies seemed to have an unspoken agreement not to disconnect utility service during the winter months, but cash-strapped customers can no longer rely on that. Not only is termination of service a real possibility – and much sooner than in the past – but these customers are also more likely to be hounded by debt collectors for past due balances.
Making the situation even worse, many organizations that may have been a possible source of assistance to those facing financial hardship have either shut down or have greatly cut back on the aid they can offer.
Sadly, this may leave many lower-income residents in the cold.
See full story on wsj.com