Columbia residents struggle with new online utilities payment system

10 months 2 weeks 4 days 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
loading

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
COLUMBIA - The Show Me States Games began officially with a torch run ending at Shelter Insurance in Columbia. ... More >>
9 minutes ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 5:37:00 PM CDT in Continuous News
PUTNAM COUNTY - The Putnam County Sheriff's Department issued an Endangered SILVER Advisory for a missing adult on Friday, July... More >>
1 hour ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 4:40:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Higher Education awarded 18 Missouri colleges and universities with their Default Prevention Grant for... More >>
1 hour ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 4:15:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY- The Missouri River Regional Library is now renting out Wi-Fi hotspots. The hotspots fit in the palm of... More >>
1 hour ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 4:09:50 PM CDT in Continuous News
BOONVILLE - Prosecutors have charged Cooper County Clerk Darryl Kempf with stealing and receiving stolen property after he allegedly bought... More >>
1 hour ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 3:47:00 PM CDT in Continuous News
JEFFERSON CITY - Accidental drowning has been ruled the cause of death for two teens who jumped from a bridge... More >>
2 hours ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 3:35:31 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A water main break is causing problems for several businesses and commercial buildings in downtown St.... More >>
2 hours ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 3:22:09 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The city manager proposed a budget Friday morning that include cuts due do to low sales tax growth.... More >>
2 hours ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 3:22:00 PM CDT in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A Greene County judge has ruled that six Springfield massage parlors cannot engage in prostitution-related activities for... More >>
3 hours ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 2:37:17 PM CDT in News
WASHINGTON - White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday shortly after President Donald Trump decided to name a new... More >>
5 hours ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 12:38:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Police detectives arrested a third person Thursday in relation to a home invasion robbery July 2. Taffny... More >>
5 hours ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 12:33:00 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been charged with fatally stabbing a homeless man in the... More >>
5 hours ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 12:10:05 PM CDT in News
Boone County, Mo. - The Boone County sheriff's deputies said that deputies are actively seeking Rodney J. Klobnak on suspicion... More >>
6 hours ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 11:08:00 AM CDT in News
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say one of the victims of a triple shooting at a St. Joseph apartment... More >>
7 hours ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 10:22:48 AM CDT in News
CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — A woman is suing the H&M clothing chain and a former security officer who is accused... More >>
8 hours ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 9:28:06 AM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Police say a St. Louis officer has fatally shot a man who pointed a gun after... More >>
8 hours ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 8:47:00 AM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police are investigating the death of a man found wounded inside a vehicle in Kansas... More >>
9 hours ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 8:43:00 AM CDT in News
LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities say a Kansas City, Kansas, woman with the first name of Darlene may have been... More >>
10 hours ago July 21, 2017 Jul 21, 2017 Friday, July 21 2017 Friday, July 21, 2017 7:27:29 AM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 98°
6pm 98°
7pm 95°
8pm 92°
9pm 88°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

5:30p
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt
6:00p
KOMU 8 News @ 6
6:30p
Wheel of Fortune
5:30p
American Dad!
6:00p
Family Guy
6:30p
Family Guy

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
America's Got Talent
9:00p
Dateline NBC
7:00p
Masters of Illusion
7:30p
Masters of Illusion
8:00p
Penn & Teller: Fool Us
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld