I-Team: Saco business owner claims double billing by CMP

A small business owner in Saco tells the CBS 13 I-Team she's being overcharged and double billed by Central Maine Power.

SACO (WGME) -- A small business owner tells the CBS 13 I-Team she's being overcharged and double billed by Central Maine Power.

Christine Labrecque grew up in her grandmother's consignment shop, so buying Heart's Desire was a dream come true.

"This is my life," said Labrecque.

But the last few months, she said, have been more like a nightmare.

She said the store's utility bills from CMP have always run around $200, with the highest last year at $360.

But in February, she said a bill arrived totaling $960. Even worse, she said, was the second bill that came that same month for another $670.

"Same account number for both bills," said Labrecque. "One has dashes, one does not."

Labrecque said it's happened multiple times. She shared bills dated December 11 and December 26.

"They acknowledge it, but they say it's not a problem," said Labrecque.

When she called today, CBS 13 heard a customer rep say two bills a month is "ridiculous," before transferring Labrecque's call to the billing department.

A spokesperson for CMP said the company is "committed to customer satisfaction, and our representatives are happy to talk with customers who have questions about their account. If an error is found, we will fix it and adjust the customer's account as appropriate."

"I close at the same time every night. I have no refrigeration. I have regular lamps with LED efficient bulbs," said Labrecque.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission launched an investigation into metering, billing and customer communications at CMP in February, following extensive analysis of customer bills sent to the CBS 13 I-Team showing spikes in usage that many couldn't explain.

The company has been examining its new billing system but says an internal audit revealed no systemic problems. A more technical audit by an independent consultant is scheduled to start by the end of May and last until the end of the year.

"So far I think it's being done so slow and it's ridiculous," said Labrecque. "I mean, people do not have extra money to pay CMP extra bills."

As much as it may hurt, Labrecque said she's paying in full to keep the lights on and the doors open.

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