7 Shocking Utility Bill Management Horror Stories That Will Scare the Living Daylights Out of You

Urjanet Inc  |  October 12, 2015   |  Energy & Sustainability  


We at Urjanet love scary stories, especially during the month of October. What we don’t like, however, are scary stories derived from poor utility data management! From late fees to wasted investments, the consequences of haphazard data collection are plenty. In this blog post, we break down some of the scariest outcomes that we’ve seen so far.

Warning: They will scare the living daylights out of you.

Horror Stories for Commercial & Industrial End Users:

“Late Fee Letdown”

One of the most anxiety-inducing experiences an accounting manager can face in his or her professional career is the sudden arrival of the dreaded late fee. Utilities may charge you late fees in the event that you fail to pay your bill by a certain date. These fees are indeed frustrating because they are a value-less payment to the utility that can generally be avoided altogether. To make matters worse, oftentimes it’s not even due to your negligence that these fees are incurred, but the fault of perhaps the utility for sending the original bill in the mail too late. Sometimes the payment due date falls before the bill even arrives in your mailbox — and you’re still expected to have had it paid. The horror!

“Manual Data Entry Mishap”

Imagine a scenario in which a member of your team enters data incorrectly for a very important report to your internal and external stakeholders. Perhaps the employee made a typing error, attaching an accidental “0” at the end of the Outstanding Balance amount. Perhaps he or she mistakenly attributed “kWh Consumed” in the place of “Amount Due.” Or maybe it was due to overlooking a utility rebill. People make mistakes – it happens. But making huge and costly energy decisions based on incorrect data isn’t just bad – it’s terrifying. Especially when you have to explain the mistake to senior leadership. Avoid that terror by shifting employees currently doing manual data entry to other functions and automate your utility bill data collection process.

“Stuck in a Time Warp”

Your company’s stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, and more, are the community from which your organization is born and continues to grow. They believe in your company and they envision it in a position poised for great success in the present and future. Why give them a reason to think your company is stuck in a 1982 time warp by performing outdated and antiquated methods of data collection? Imagine a stakeholder realizing its company preaches innovation and forward-thinking practices, and yet still resorts to manual data entry over technological advancement through automation.

“The Account Shut-off Shock”

When your facility’s utility bill goes unpaid for a while, the utility will exercise its right to stop providing its services to you. Your account gets shut off, and the buildings that are associated with your account cease to receive electricity, water, gas, etc. until the bill is paid in full. Imagine you own a high-operating manufacturing plant that has to close its doors for an indefinite period of time until the organization makes everything right with the utility again. Production levels come to a halt, factory employees can’t work and therefore can’t get paid, and your business severely suffers. Shocking!

“The Impotent Investment”

The value of utility data comes to life when it can be analyzed, visualized, and acted upon for better outcomes. That’s why many organizations make great investments in software and reporting tools to make sense of the data. But what happens when the data that goes into the reporting system is bad? What happens when it’s fraught with errors? The decisions that come out of it are bad. The investment goes dry. Thousands of dollars (or more) are wasted upon meaningless information and insights that are just plain wrong. Not to mention everybody ends up looking bad.

Pretty terrifying, right? End users of energy aren’t the only ones subject to these horrifying fates — solutions providers have their own set of woes to endure as a result of poor utility bill management.

Horror Stories for Solutions Providers:

“We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat”

For a small, nimble energy and sustainability startup, the first big customer win is definitely worth popping the champagne for. You earned it! You deserve it! You spent the time and effort on R&D, hiring a sales team, ramping up your marketing efforts and finally, the famed logo gets added to your customer roster and a big ole’ paycheck gets deposited into your company’s bank account. All is well and good. Until it’s not. You then realize how tough it is to actually have a large enterprise as a customer. They need this and they need that, and they need it now. All of a sudden your employees are scrambling to keep up and your tried-and-true business model that worked so well for your smaller customers goes out the window. Your business can’t seem to operate efficiently enough and you come to terms with its inability to scale. Bye bye, big customer.

“The Invisible Data Monster”

Software systems can be an end user’s best friend. As a software provider, you arm your users with dashboards, charts, and trends that provide meaningful insights for them to make good decisions. Good decisions make them look good to their boss! They’re the hero, and you, the enabler of such good decisions, are graciously thanked.

Not so fast. What if your customer can’t even get the data into your platform? What if he or she is so consumed in the volume and complexity of information still idly sitting on PDFs and paper bills that it takes hours, days, or even weeks to enter all the data and even begin to start analyzing it? If it’s at all difficult, or time-consuming, or just plain frustrating for them to use your software, how will they ever extract any real value from it?

Has your organization endured any of these horrifying situations? Do you have any other utility data management scary stories of your own?  Join the conversation on Twitter by tweeting us @Urjanet.

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About Urjanet Inc

Urjanet, the global leader in utility data aggregation, simplifies how organizations access and use utility data, enabling them to focus on their business. Our technology collects, processes, and delivers data from over 6,500 electric, natural gas, water, waste, telecom, and cable utilities worldwide.

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