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Ask SAM: What is this new charge on my Duke Energy bill?

Ask SAM: What is this new charge on my Duke Energy bill?

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Q: Why has Duke Energy recently started adding $14 to their bills? This is the first time I have seen this on my bill.

L.F.

Answer: That is an existing charge that was on your bill previously but is spelled out differently now, according to Jimmy Flythe, a spokesman for Duke Energy in the Carolinas.

“This year, residential and non-residential customers began receiving a new, simplified energy bill,” Flythe said. “We designed it to help customers more easily view and understand their bill and energy usage. We used customer feedback and industry best practices to develop a new bill format designed to create a simple and uncluttered experience. Duke Energy introduced the new bill design to customers in the Carolinas in May.”

The $14 charge you re referring to is “the basic facilities charge, which is a fixed monthly amount not related to your electric usage and covers fixed costs of providing service to your location as well as maintaining customer records, billing and other transactions affecting your account,” Flythe said. “It is an existing monthly charge that has been included in your previous monthly bills and is applicable whether or not electricity is used. This information has been detailed in your bill in response to feedback from customers and regulators.”

The new bill format features a simple two-column layout with billing details on the left and important bill-related messages on the right; the use of color, bold text and icons to emphasize key information such as amount due; concise, jargon-free language and definitions of key terms; usage data (depending on the jurisdiction, this may be a new color line graph or a comparison chart) and more.

“We informed customers about the bill enhancements through a variety of communication channels, including duke-energy.com, email, bill messages and more,” Flythe said. “Customers also received a sneak peek at a sample bill through a bill insert and an online tutorial. While the bill is not available in Spanish, our interactive tutorial includes Spanish-translated descriptions of the various bill sections.”

Residential customers can read Duke Energy’s frequently asked questions and see the bill tutorial by visiting duke-energy.com/Enhance.

Q: In March I completed a very lengthy 2-part survey for what was identified as the United States Postal Service. They agreed to send me $40 in payment for my participation. I have received nothing from them and there is no answer when I attempt to call them on the number they provided. Was this a scam?

S.P.

Answer: “The Postal Service routinely conducts customer surveys to collect data about our products and services,” said Philip Bogenberger, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service. However, he said, “Those surveys are completely voluntary and the Postal Service does not pay for that information.”

If you think this was a scam, the incident can be reported to the Postal Inspection Service by calling 1-877-876-2455 or making a report online at www.uspis.gov.

Email: AskSAM@wsjournal.com

Online: journalnow.com/asksam

Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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