By: Monica Parise
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaii News Now investigation into problems with Hawaiian Electric Company's new billing system and the resulting backlog of complaint calls to customer service has prompted a flood of new horror stories, and many people are worried that they will lose power for failing to reach HECO with their billing concerns.
Honolulu Attorney Kamaile Maldonado discovered that she was locked out of her own online account when she logged onto HECO's website to pay her bill.
"We had no idea what was happening on their side because there was absolutely no communication. We were trying for so many weeks and months to just pay our bill," she said, venting her frustration.
Since HECO switched to its new computer system back in May, Maldonado claims to have had nothing but problems. Since she does everything paperless, she had no record of her account number and had no idea how much she owed. Other attorneys in her office had similar problems and teamed up in attempt to reach a live person.
"We would call and stay on line for an hour each, until hopefully one of us would eventually get through. We'd pass the phone to each other so we could all resolve our issues at the same time but that never ended up working out."
Stories of panicked customers with disconnection notices and claims of being over-charged continue to fill our phone lines, website and Facebook page. One viewer even posted a photo of her electricity bill for almost 19-hundred dollars when it's usually around 450-dollars a month.
Neighbor island residents like Richard Pata have complaints, as well. The Maui father of15-month-old quadruplets and a four-year-old claimed his electric bill almost doubled within three months, even though rates have dropped slightly.
Reaching HECO's customer service call center took him over one hour.
"I just put my cell phone on my desk and let it play. Finally, someone picked up and pulled up my information. Her answer to my problems was 'Oh yeah it did jump.'"
HECO maintains that increases in customer billing complaints are due to higher summertime electricity use. Company Spokesperson Peter Rosegg found no evidence of system errors. Angry consumers can file complaints with the State Public Utilities Commission or the Hawaii Consumer Advocate.
Information about both agencies can be found at HawaiiNewsNow.com