Use Seattle City Light’s eBilling system? ‘Technical error’ alert

Sent this afternoon by Seattle City Light:

On Thursday, May 28, Seattle City Light discovered that certain customers who were billed on May 27 accidentally received incorrect billing statements through the eBilling online payment service. No Social Security number, bank account, credit card, or debit card information was involved, and this will not result in any disruption of service to customers. Any payments customers made were applied to the correct accounts.

The problem was caused by an internal, technical error. We are investigating and working with a team of specialists to determine what happened. We will provide an update when further information is available.

Until this technical error has been resolved, the eBilling system has been taken offline. However, customers may still make an online payment through the “one-time payment” system on our website, which has not been affected. Our call center staff will be available to answer questions on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., and during normal operating hours Monday through Friday.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this might cause our customers. We appreciate our customers’ patience as we work to resolve this issue.

We asked SCL spokesperson Scott Thomsen how many people were affected; he says they don’t know yet, but “It was limited to some customers within the May 27 billing run” – (added) an average daily billing run could have 30,000 customers – and if they determine your bill was involved, you should get e-mail (updated) OR postal mail from City Light – depending on what kind of contact info they have for you.

15 Replies to "Use Seattle City Light's eBilling system? 'Technical error' alert"

  • Sue May 31, 2015 (2:55 pm)

    This affected me, and is the latest in a long list of aggravation I’m having with them. I got the email that my bill was available on the 28th, and when I logged in, it had the bill for some guy in UDistrict. I called, and they said it happened to everyone who was billed on the 27th, they didn’t know why, and they didn’t know how to fix it. And yet I still got an email from them that my automated payment is going through in the next few days. It’s not the same amount as that guy’s bill, so it’s some arbitrary amount I’m being billed for, and for which they cannot show me a bill. They couldn’t even pull it up over the phone.
    My other aggravation for them is that the last 2 months my bills have been estimated, and they tell me that this one is as well. I’ve asked them in the past (and on this call) why this is, since I’m in an apartment building, and they’ve had access to it for the first year I’ve lived there. They told me that with all the growth in Seattle, they simply do not have enough readers, so people are getting missed. While this is ridiculous (hire more people), why do they not rotate who gets the estimated bills? They estimate significantly low, so when you ultimately DO get a bill, it’s a large one to make up for it. And then I can’t even get a good history of my usage since I have no actual readings for 6 months now.
    I’ve had various frustrating billing issues with them for the 8 years I’ve lived in Seattle. Who does one contact to complain about this? I mean over their heads – complaining to City Light has done nothing. I found one utility regulatory company, but it said they don’t regulate City Light.

    • WSB May 31, 2015 (3:33 pm)

      Seems the city regulates SCL instead of the state commission. So I’d start with Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s office, as she chairs the committee that oversees City Light.

  • Sue May 31, 2015 (3:37 pm)


  • pupsarebest May 31, 2015 (5:09 pm)

    While we do not use the eBilling method of payment, as long as we’re on the topic SCL:
    Every bill we’ve paid for a year now has been “Estimated”.
    Our meter has not actually been read by a SCL employee for a year.
    I find that troubling, and wonder why, and whether this is SOP for our local utility these days?

  • Jeff May 31, 2015 (5:56 pm)

    Seattle City Light is converting to automated metering in the next couple years, and everyone knows it is coming. So meter readers are all scrambling to find new jobs before they get fired, and the positions are not being backfilled because nobody wants to fire them again in several months. What we get is estimated reads all over the place.

  • Compute May 31, 2015 (5:56 pm)

    “To err is human; to really foul thinks up it takes a computer.” ;-)

  • Sue May 31, 2015 (6:02 pm)

    pupsarebest, from what they’re telling me at City Light, it’s happening all over because they simply don’t have enough people to read meters (so they tell me). They said the growth of the city (with companies like Facebook moving in) and new buildings going up has created a shortage of meter readers. Also, even if they do come to your home, if they can’t easily find the meter, they go without reading it. I live in an apartment building, and they said that if the reader is a sub and doesn’t know where to find it, they simply don’t have time to hunt down who to ask (like the management office), so they leave without doing it.
    If you haven’t done so already, read your own meter and submit it to them to adjust your bill. It’s been my experience that they underestimate, so you’ll end up with a much larger bill when it’s read for real.
    Instructions on how to read the meter: You can also take a photograph of it.
    This is the form I filled out to submit a photograph of my meter: There are several levels of info you enter, and then at some point you can enter text on why you’re writing and/or submit a photo of the meter. They were actually pretty quick in re-writing my bill to accommodate the new reading. The only issue I had was that I have my bills automatically paid, and since they had already scheduled my payment based on the lower amount, when they re-wrote my bill (which was higher), I had to manually pay the extra amount since it wouldn’t be automatically paid.

  • SCL cx May 31, 2015 (6:51 pm)

    My total seemed about right. It wasnt until I tried to look at the bill that I noticed the name and amount were different by a few dollars more. I emailed them a copy of the statement the day I noticed, around the 28th. Haven’t heard back yet.
    I selected to pay on the due date, around 6/16. I wonder if it will go through?

  • Joan May 31, 2015 (7:33 pm)

    Jeff, thank you for that input. I also received several estimated bills last year, resulting in us overpaying substantially. I suspected they are short staffed, and it seems to be chronic. Our bill is still not right. We tried the ebilling about four years ago and never received a bill or notification or anything until several months had passed and we received a shut off notice for nonpayment.

    City Light really needs to get their act together as far as accurate usage-based billing.

  • bolo May 31, 2015 (11:44 pm)

    They have been (under)estimating my usage also for several months. The main problem for me is when they actually get a real reading it penalizes me by charging a larger amount at the more expensive (more than 2x) 2nd tier rate. It almost seems like a scam designed for SCL to charge more…

    I called several months ago to complain and they had me read the meter dials to them over the phone. She would not believe the numbers and promised to have a meter reader come soon to read it offically. Still waiting, over two billing cycles later, still getting estimated bills…

  • Lynnbob June 1, 2015 (12:24 pm)

    Just got my bill for the past two months, and it was over $20.00 higher than the last–and by this time of the year it is usually significantly lower. The guy at Seattle Light I talked to was really nice, told me to read the meter and call back and they would readjust the bill and he would place a note on my account re my call. Only problem is that the meter is above my head, and being short, in my 60’s and with a bad back I am reluctant to get on a ladder. I was told they would charge a fee for a meter reader to come and do it. So I guess I will ask one of my neighbors to check it out.

    If SCL is so strapped for cash, why don’t they discontinue that annoying (and I feel,worthless) practice of sending those notices with “grades” on how you are doing re usage. There is no way you can compare one household with another, regardless of the square footage.

  • shawnte June 1, 2015 (3:36 pm)

    My bill is over 1000,00 for a 2 month cycle,wth??

    • WSB June 1, 2015 (3:54 pm)

      And what did SCL say when you called to ask them about it?

  • Neighbor June 1, 2015 (7:14 pm)

    @ lynnbob. My situation is similar. I went to look at an old bill about 6 months ago and it was estimated as well. What the hell are they thinking wasting money on some stupid flyer that compares usage between households when they don’t have any idea how much we are using? City of seattle officials, please respond! Btw, many years ago I used very little power during the summer. Someone at city light accused of criminal behavior saying that I must have altered my meter. I don’t even know how to do that nor would I have done such a thing. The nerve.

  • Katie June 9, 2015 (10:22 pm)

    Last billing cycle our bill was $112, this billing cycle its $1,003. I called when this happened before and no one would help me because they had been under estimating and if that’s what my meter (finally) read, then that’s what I owe.

Sorry, comment time is over.