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PAMS late fees outrageous

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Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Regarding the article “Water shutoff expenses pile up” (Dec. 8): I have had problems with Pennsylvania Municipal Services and I'm sure a lot of residents have had problems as well.

Since PAMS took over sewage billing for the Municipal Authority of New Kensington in January, my bill has almost doubled. Like many people, we live paycheck to paycheck. I paid a bill late, but with PAMS there is no standard late fee. PAMS adds interest for every day your bill is late. I paid my bill a week late, and the late fee was $25. I shudder at what the fee would be for someone who paid a month late.

And if you pay your bill online with a credit card, there's a $6 fee. Where does it end?

I contacted PAMS about the separate late-fee bill I received two weeks after my sewage bill was paid. That's when I discovered the interest-accrued late fee. I told them the fee was insane. After I was rudely told how the interest would be added — and how if I didn't pay the fee, they would keep adding interest — I contacted New Ken sewage. They were very nice on the phone but couldn't help because it was no longer their account.

Only after I contacted the Better Business Bureau did I get my late charge — by this time, it was up to $38.04 — waived as a “one time courtesy.”

It should be illegal for utilities to charge interest on late bills. If you don't like your cable provider, you switch. Don't like your gas or electric company? Change your provider. But with sewage, we have no choice.

Residents didn't ask for our accounts to be moved to PAMS, so why should we have to pay these outrageous interest-packed late fees?

Given the choice between paying a $50 late fee on my sewage or filling up my gas tank for work for the week, I'm filling my tank.

Thanks to the VND for making people aware of this situation.

Megan Mlinarcik

New Kensington

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