Oops: 2,000 utility customers wrongly get disconnect notice

The Columbus City Utilities is apologizing for a clerical error in which about 2,000 customers received past-due notices and disconnect warnings when they didn’t owe any money.

City utility clerks were sending out routine email notices March 3 on water and sewer bills to let customers know they were past due on paying their water and sewer bills, said Keith Reeves, Columbus City Utilities director.

Because of a clerical error, however, an end date wasn’t put into the program generating the emails, Reeves said. That resulted in about 2,500 of the notices going out, when only 200 accounts were actually past due, he said.

The emails sent by mistake said the customer owed nothing that was past due — but if the bill wasn’t paid, disconnection could occur, causing even more confusion, Reeves said.

The city utilities staff had the error corrected within about a half hour.

“It’s just something that happens,” Reeves said. “We regret it.”

The city utility bills about 18,000 customers in Columbus each month, and employees are now taking additional steps to double-check the email notifications to make sure they are correct, he said.