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Fox 4 investigates electric bill issue involving 3rd party vendor

Posted at 12:33 AM, Nov 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-30 00:33:57-05

LEHIGH ACRES — Fox 4 is working to help one man solve his power bill problem.

Jose Machado tells us he paid his bill, and has the receipts, but the Lee County Electric Cooperative sent him a notice saying he needs to pay again or his power could be shut off.

Machado came by the station and spread out his receipts to show us he’s been keeping up with his bills.

"I’ve been a valued customer for the past 10 years," said Machado.

Machado tells us he pays off his bills at the money center at the Walmart off of Lee Blvd. in LeHigh Acres. He simply brings with him his bill and some cash to pay it off. He said it’s always convenient, because he can do it while he shops, but this time he received a letter from LCEC

"When they come and get these kinds of letters, it basically scares you," said Machado.

The letter Machado received said his payment through Walmart’s money center was "not honored", but he said he called the company that runs it, Moneygram, and got a different story.

"They’re saying their bank isn’t accepting the payment, but yet, when I checked with Moneygram, they said yes they accepted the payment," said Machado.

We checked Moneygram’s site as well, and the transaction was listed as processed. Machado’s next bill even showed the money had gone through.

When we reached out to LCEC, the company said "There has been a few instances in the past where Mr. Machado made a payment… and the payment was returned through the third-party payment processor… due to keying errors.”

"Keying errors" means something was typed wrong, like the account number. It’s not clear yet if that’s the actual issue, but it now leaves Machado with a tough decision.

"We have to pay again. If not, we’re going to cut your power," said Machado.

For Machado, who is diabetic, having the power cut is a big deal.

"If that refrigerator goes off, all the insulin goes bad," said Machado.

Machado said he wants his story told because he believes anyone who uses services like Moneygram for their bills needs to know.

"There's others out there that are probably in the same situation that I have," said Machado.

LCEC tells us it is investigating Machado’s issue and should have an answer by Tuesday. Machado hopes he can get this resolved, but he said if not he is considering taking the issue to court.