Coronavirus and Utility Bills

The coronavirus has most people worried about how they’re going to pay their bills.

Unless you’re Mr. or Mrs. Moneybags and had piles of money lying around prior to the coronavirus pandemic, you’ve probably tightened your belt a few notches. That might sound like a cute saying, but it’s not very fun when you’re on the receiving end of it.

With that in mind, people have sent us letters, emails and called us asking how they’re going to pay their utility bills. Maybe you’re not getting paid by your job, but those power companies still want their monthly checks. For a house of any size, your electricity and power bills can range into the hundreds of dollars per month.

We’ve put together this script to help working families to represent themselves in this new strange time that we’re in.

Letter to a utility company:

“The coronavirus pandemic has impacted our finances in unanticipated ways. Our income has drastically decreased, and we may have to change the ways that we budget our cash on hand.

With that in mind, we request any forbearance or deferred payment plans available from the utility company.

Importantly, we request that the company call us to verify that they have received this communication, and that they will negotiate payment with us.

Beyond that, the company may not see the regular payments that it’s asking for.

We hope you understand, as everyone is impacted by COVID19, and we look forward to resolving this with you.”

This letter is somewhat short and sweet. Utility companies know that people are squeezed financially. It’s up to them to offer some deferment in terms of utility payments. One option that many offer is a “budget billing” where they take your avarge annual bills and divide out over the corse of the year. Thereby making your monthly bill more even, and without the seasonal spikes.

They know in their hearts that people aren’t trying to game the system. But the corporate incentive to demand upfront payment is very strong.

Now, we’ve heard top economists talk about how much more efficient it would be if the government paid people’s utility bills for them – but that doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen.

Instead, a lot of your benefits, such as stimulus checks or unemployment, are going to take weeks or months to arrive. In the meantime, consumers are faced with the daunting task of working things out with their creditors, which includes utility companies, and successful resolution is critical to keep the lights on and the water coming out of the spigot. We hope this script will help you to do that in an effective way, and we’re here for you.

If you are feeling depressed, stressed, or just simply need someone to talk to our parent organization has a program called THE ADVOCATE. Where they offer FREE listening ear services and other advocacy services. We are here for you because we care.