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Frustrated DEMCO customer pays entire utility bill in nickels

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DENHAM SPRINGS- A man so frustrated with the state's largest electric cooperative paid his $200 dollar utility bill in nickels Thursday.

Matthew Leeth claims DEMCO threatened to turn off his power recently after he didn't pay his bill. Leeth said he provided DEMCO with a receipt from a third party administrator it uses to process payments and his bank statements. DEMCO could not substantiate those documents and continued to say Leeth owed the money.

When Leeth had enough, he called the Public Service Commission. The PSC intervened and told DEMCO it could not shut off Leeth's power until this whole situation is sorted out.

"I notified them about what was going on," Leeth said. "They said it looks like you have your ducks in a row. We will reach out to DEMCO and now DEMCO wants a three-way phone call from my bank, a letter from my bank. I have a receipt, a bank statement and a transaction report."

DEMCO said some of the items it requested were not provided by Leeth. That is why they haven't been able to substantiate the documents he provided.

"If that register comes in, and it is on letterhead that will suffice," DEMCO Public Information Officer David Latona said. "But if it's not, we work with the member and give them a chance to bring in a letter before we cut off their power."

Leeth said the discrepancy is not surprising because he's had problems before.

"A couple months ago they misplaced a payment, and sent me another customer's information," Leeth said. "Her account number, address and date of birth. Everything but her social. They said this is the account we applied it to. There are a lot of security and protocol concerns that are concerning.

DEMCO said it is bending over backward to get to the bottom of this.

"We certainly want to do our best with every member," Latona said. "There's a lot of members and a lot of accounts we want to make sure we are the best stewards of their money and the power we provide them."

The PSC said it is aware of a recorded conversation with Leeth's bank. Once that's turned over to DEMCO, it could clear up Leeth's account.


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