ED Magedson – Founder
American Utility ManagementP.O. Box 4957 Oak Brook, Illinois United States of America
Part 1. Text of my original complaint to BBB, submitted months after getting nowhere with AUM
The Better Business Bureau of Chicago & Northern Illinois
330 North Wabash Ave., Suite 2006
Chicago, IL 60649
31 March 2009
I am bringing to your attention a list of complaints against the following company:
American Utility Management
P.O. Box 4957
Oak Brook, IL 60522-4957.
I have been striving since last Autumn to get answers to a number of questions, the most serious of which concerns the integrity of the bookkeeping at AUMs bill payment center in Los Angeles, CA. For your reference, copies of four letters are included as attachments:
Letter dated December 19, 2008 from Mr. Jeff Peterson to Douglas Krajnovich
Letter dated December 24, 2008 from Douglas and Virginia Krajnovich to AUM
Letter dated January 1, 2009 from Douglas Krajnovich to Mr. Peterson
Letter dated February 7, 2009 from Douglas and Virginia Krajnovich to AUM
NOTE: Mr. Peterson is Senior Vice President and General Counsel of AUM.
According to Ms. Parnella Williams, head of Customer Service of AUM, all of my complaints were referred to Mr. Jeff Peterson. I left phone messages for Mr. Peterson on three separate occasions (Jan. 29, Feb. 27, and Mar. 20). He never returned my calls.
Mr. Petersons letter of Dec. 19, 2008 states you may manage your account online at no cost. To a simple-minded person being like me, managing my account involves 3 simple steps: reviewing my bill, deciding what to pay, and paying. There is, in fact, no way to pay ones monthly bill online at no cost. The only on-line bill pay option involves what AUM euphemistically refers to as a Convenience Fee. This so-called Convenience Fee would make Shylock blush. At $7.50, it is even larger that the so-called Late Payment charge if you pay by mail to the Los Angeles address and someone there (or in Oakbrook?) decides to mark it late. Mr. Peterson has refused to acknowledge or correct this misrepresentation of fact. As to why AUM calls this a Convenience Fee, I can only guess. Perhaps they are fans of George Orwells Nineteen Eighty Four where the Ministry of Love was where prisoners got taken to be tortured. Or perhaps they call it a Convenience Fee because it is very convenient for them, not for the unwilling captives of Third Party Billing.
I have mailed all of my AUM bills on or before the due date. Yet I have been charged numerous late fees by AUM. Unlike the Internal Revenue Service, or my telephone company (AT&T), or my electric provider (City of Santa Clara), AUM Customer Service informed me by telephone that they neither record nor respect the postmark date as evidence of on-time payment. Further, they do not have a grace period. Further, mail delays are entirely my responsibility. Finally, there is no local address where I can pay my bill in person. Someone (or something) in Los Angeles evidently decides when my bill is received, but that someone or something is a closely guarded secret. Despite repeated requests, AUM has refused to give me the name, address, and phone number of any person working at their Los Angeles bill payment center. One Customer Service rep from the Oakbrook office told me on Jan. 2, 2009 that no human beings work at the Los Angeles office and then hung up on me. Another told me that human beings work there but they are not AUM employees. She would not give me a name or a phone number.
As follow-up to Complaint #2, I performed an experiment. I mailed one of my payments by signature-guaranteed Express Mail to see if anyone would sign for it. I now have the name and handwritten signature of one person who works at the Los Angeles bill payment center. I also have proof that my AUM ledger entry for that month was post-dated by 2 days from the Express mail delivery date.
Since I happen to be a scientist, I know the value of repeating an experiment to make sure the data is valid and not just a fluke. Therefore, I mailed another payment by Express mail. I now have the name of a second person who works at the Los Angeles bill payment center. My AUM ledger entry was again post-dated by 2 days.
Without letting on that I had performed Experiments #1 and #2, I wrote to Mr. Peterson again on Feb. 7. The final sentence of that letter is the most important: I expect my ledger to be vouched for and signed by your President, Chief Financial Officer, or independent auditor since I have serious concerns about the bookkeeping at 4 REGULUS 90060. In one of my voicemails to the unresponsive Mr. Peterson, I read this sentence over the phone and demanded a written response. Seven weeks have elapsed. No response. Evidently no one at AUM is willing to stand by their ledger if it means signing their name to it.
Since Mr. Peterson is missing in action, I pressed Ms. Parnella Williams on Mar. 12 for the name and telephone number of AUMs Chief Financial Officer. She refused to give it to me and referred me once again to you know who. I have more complaints besides these but these are the most significant. What I expect from AUM and the BBB: 1. An independent auditor should conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of the Los Angeles bill payment center and the results of the audit should be made public. 2. AUM should explain to me in writing how the records of the Los Angeles bill payment center are converted into the AUM ledger. 3. AUM should correct past wrongs by revising the ledgers of all AUM customers paying their bills through the Los Angeles bill payment center. Late fees already paid should be refunded (and late fees not paid should be erased) if the number of days late according to the current ledgers is than or equal to four. 4. All AUM customers should be allowed to pay their bill with their rent, and with the same due date and late date as their rent, without incurring any late fee or convenience fee. 5. Upon request, AUM and the apartment managers should agree to provide actual copies of the primary utility bills from each of the primary utility providers to any resident, along with the actual formulas used to calculate their share of each bill, including any fees or overhead that are in addition to their share of the primary utility bills, and who collects such fees and overhead, if any.
TO BE CONTINUED...
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/15/2009 04:05 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/American-Utility-Management/Oak-Brook-Illinois-60522/American-Utility-Management-AUM-Why-I-Dont-Trust-American-Utility-Management-Santa-Cla-480481. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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