FPL backs off on cafe’s whopper bill
CHARLOTTE HARBOR — Kim Casey, the owner of Morgan’s Cafe, fought Florida Power & Light over some $3,000 the power company said she owed because its meter had been undercharging her for years — and both sides came out a winner, she said Friday.
Casey said an FPL customer advocate who worked to mediate negotiations between her and the company over the past few weeks notified her Wednesday that FPL had dropped its claim to the retroactive charges.
Those retroactive charges represent the amount FPL had undercharged the restaurant for the past year.
Those charges were among some $7,000 FPL billed the restaurant in August, a month after the company swapped out the restaurant’s meter with a new one and discovered the old one had been defective. The total includes some current monthly charges for electricity, which also about doubled after the faulty meter was replaced.
“I feel so happy,” Casey said. “I feel (FPL) did the right thing, finally. I want to thank them, and also thank my customers for their dedication and support.”
She said several customers wrote letters in support of the restaurant to this newspaper’s editor or blogs to a TV news station after the Charlotte Sun published an article Sept. 1 about her FPL bills. Many of her customers also personally urged her to contest the charges, she said. Some even donated a total of $580 to what amounted to Morgan’s FPL defense fund.
“My customers, oh yeah, they’re super duper,” Casey said.
Florida rules allow power companies to charge customers retroactively for up to one year if faulty meters were undercharging them. However, the rules also require the power companies to subject the meters to certain tests, according to Public Service Commission officials.
Casey said she was poised to request FPL’s testing records.
“I argued with them,” she said. “They decided to cut the bill in half and have me pay $1,500. I said, ‘No, I’m not going to pay for your faulty equipment.’”
She said FPL then offered to have her pay $700 now and $700 over 36 months. She rejected that offer as well.
“I said, ‘You know what? If you want to argue with me about it, I’ll just get my attorney and take it to court,’” she said.
A few days later, FPL dropped all the retroactive charges.
Heather Kirkendall, FPL spokeswoman, said FPL “makes every effort to work with our customers and we’re pleased” whenever a customer is satisfied.