ARIZONA- Arizona’s largest power company will pay $ 24 million for failing to adequately explain its rates and wrongly diverting thousands of customers from its cheaper plans, Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced Monday.
Arizona Public Service raised fees and changed the way customers are billed on some plans in 2017, with the approval of regulators from the Arizona Corporation Commission. The company then moved customers to new rate plans if they didn’t choose one for themselves.
Explaining the new rates turned out to be a problem even for the company’s employees.
What you should know
- Up to 210,000 customers will get at least $ 98 for not being on their cheapest plan as of March 2020.
- Another 17,500 customers will receive variable payments based on the data error.
- APS will also pay $ 770,000 to cover state expenses for research and to support state consumer awareness programs, according to Brnovich’s office.
Among other issues, the utility misdirected customers on its website in 2019 with a rate comparison tool that was meant to show them which of the new plans would be cheaper for them. Instead, that tool directed many people to something other than the cheapest plan.
In some cases, customers were directed to plans that would cost them hundreds of dollars more per year than the plan that best suited the amount of electricity they used and the time of day they used it.
In some cases, electricity bills are unpayable, according to customer accounts.
“Throughout my time as attorney general, I have always said that businesses, large and small, must ensure that consumers have adequate information about products and services,” Brnovich said in a prepared statement, calling the agreement ” historical and transcendent ”.
APS said the online rate comparison gave customers the wrong advice from February to November 2019.
The people who will receive the settlement cash are those who stayed on a plan other than the cheapest one as of March 2020 and could have saved $ 120 or more per year if they had a better plan, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
APS has already sent two rounds of refunds to thousands of customers who used the website and were not on their cheapest rate plan.
APS paid customers twice in 2020 for the difference between what they paid on bills dating back to February 2019 and what they would have paid under their cheapest plan, plus $ 25 for its inconvenience.
Excluding inconvenience payments of $ 25, the average refund paid in January 2020 was $ 38, APS officials said at the time, although hundreds of customers paid more than $ 100. One unlucky customer had overpaid $ 991.
The deal announced Monday is in addition to that money.
The attorney general’s investigation also cited letters APS sent to customers in 2017 that provided poor guidance on which rate plan they should choose.