Columbia residents struggle with new online utilities payment system

4 months 2 weeks 1 day ago September 01, 2016 Sep 1, 2016 Thursday, September 01 2016 Thursday, September 01, 2016 6:45:00 PM CDT in News
By: Adam Pressler, KOMU 8 Reporter
Embed Code Copied

COLUMBIA – New account numbers, confusing directions and more than 30-minute-long wait times have left many residents upset about the transition process from Columbia Utilities' 20-year-old online payment system to its new one.

Veronica and Darvin Lemme are long time residents of Columbia who have experienced the transition of utility payment services first hand. Veronica said the problems started after they moved across town.

“We got a notice saying our utilities were going to be shut off, so we were a little freaked out. What I didn’t realize was when you move, your account number changes,” Veronica Lemme said. 

But, the Lemmes are not the only ones who have a new account number. 

“The new system will have leading zeros in the customer and location numbers. So the customer has to, essentially, resign in if they have been using it in the past. They have to go back in and set it back up,” said Jim Windsor, Assistant Director of Columbia Utilities. 

Windsor said many residents are confused because the new system requires two number combinations: the first which should be eight digits long and the second which should be seven digits long, totaling to 15 digits. However, residents' two numbers as assigned don’t usually add up to 15 total digits. Therefore, residents must add in zeros when entering their utility billing number for the system to properly recognize their account number.    

Adding the extra zeros to their account number is a problem the Lemmes know all too well.

“I called and waited on hold for probably 30 minutes but then gave up. I decided to try again the next morning, and that is when I read the directions again, I realized you had to enter the extra zeros,” Veronica Lemme said.

Windsor said the city is also redoing the utility bills design to allow for more streamlined process.

“The new bills will have a layout with the leading zeros, meaning residents will only have to enter the number they see, and they will no longer have to add the extra zeros,” Windsor said. 

The utility bills with the new design are expected to roll out starting Friday. 

Even with long wait times, Veronica Lemme said the city was helpful during the payment process. 

“I finally got through and when I did get a chance to talk to someone they were really apologetic and helped me figure it all out, so that made things easier.”

Customers who use autopay do not need to change anything on their accounts. Customers in danger of getting disconnected should get a notice of late payment before shut-off. 

Related Stories

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — New Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens will outline his policies on jobs, ethics, public safety and education... More >>
8 minutes ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 11:14:00 AM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis' fortunes may be looking up, thanks to a surprising surge in business startups. ... More >>
19 minutes ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 11:03:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Prosecutors have filed charges against one of two men arrested following an assault at the Red Roof Inn... More >>
57 minutes ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 10:25:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - An MU associate teaching professor is presenting a petition to the Columbia City Council Tuesday evening on behalf... More >>
9 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 1:34:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Almost 50 years after the death of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Columbia groups still... More >>
13 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 10:08:00 PM CST in News
SUNRISE BEACH – Buying and selling personal property privately, such as furniture, clothes and cars, is commonplace in today’s world... More >>
14 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 9:18:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is cutting $146 million of spending from the budget, including tens of... More >>
19 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 4:13:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - After a budget resolution aimed at repealing Obamacare was reached Jan. 12, groups in Missouri plan to protest... More >>
20 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:50:00 PM CST in News
CALIFORNIA (AP) - Central Missouri Democrats nominated an attorney who formerly worked for the Missouri Senate to run in a... More >>
20 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:36:00 PM CST in News
HILLSBORO (AP) - The Missouri State Highway Patrol says a 28-year-old man died after a four-wheeler he was riding on... More >>
21 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:09:00 PM CST in News
NICKELVILLE (AP) - A southwest Missouri county highway is expected to be closed until Thursday as crews clean up an... More >>
21 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:02:00 PM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Police are investigating after a 34- year-old man was found dead outside a hospital in north... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 10:51:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Cafe Berlin reopened Monday for brunch, after being closed following a destructive break-in. The break-in on Saturday night... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 10:05:00 AM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis' fortunes may be looking up, thanks to a surprising surge in business startups. ... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 9:41:00 AM CST in News
COOPER COUNTY - Just before 5 a.m. Monday morning, the Cooper County Fire Protection District responded to a structure fire... More >>
1 day ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 8:29:00 AM CST in Top Stories
CAMDEN COUNTY - Deputies took a suspect who stabbed three people Sunday into custody without incident. The suspect is awaiting... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 10:20:00 PM CST in Top Stories
BOONE COUNTY - The northbound lanes of Highway 63 near Hinton Road were closed after the engine compartment of a... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 9:49:07 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft are hoping to expan d services to Missouri customers... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 7:50:00 PM CST in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 38°
12pm 39°
1pm 40°
2pm 41°
3pm 41°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

11:00a
Rachael Ray
12:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Noon
12:30p
Inside Edition
11:00a
Jerry Springer
12:00p
Jerry Springer
1:00p
Maury

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Wall
8:00p
This Is Us
9:00p
Chicago Fire
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
No Tomorrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld