Preliminary Results From the 2021 Utility Fee Survey

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I was contacted over the weekend by a freelance writer who is updating an article he originally wrote in 2017 regarding utilities charging convenience fees for credit card payments.

His inquiry prompted me to compare the preliminary results for the 2021 Utility Fee Survey to the previous four Utility Fee Surveys.

Not surprisingly, credit card acceptance by utilities continues to increase to the point where it’s almost universal, as shown in the graph below (clicking on any of the graphs will open a larger image in a new window):

Preliminary Survey Results

So far, there have been 47 responses to the 2021 Utility Fee Survey, and 44 of those utilities accept credit cards. However, one of the utilities that does not accept credit cards is a regional sewer utility and only bills three municipalities, so the utility has no reason to accept credit cards. Therefore, I have excluded them from the preliminary credit card results.

Convenience Fees

Early results indicate that the percentage of utilities assessing a convenience fee – the reason for the freelance inquiry in the first place – remains about the same from the 2019 Utility Fee Survey:

However, using a third-party to collect the convenience fee has increased for 2019 as shown below (the 2012 and 2015 surveys didn’t ask for this information, so there is no data for those years):

Conclusions

While the results for 2021 are still preliminary, it’s safe to say that offering credit cards is now the norm for utilities. Your customers expect to be able to pay their utility bill online, just like every other bill they pay. And, with the ease of implementing online payments, there is no reason not to offer credit cards, especially when, with a third-party convenience fee, it costs your utility nothing to do so.

Complete the 2021 Utility Fee Survey

If you haven’t already participated in the 2021 Utility Fee Survey, please click here to do so. It should take less than five minutes to complete.

If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at gsanders@edmundsgovtech.com or call me at 919-673-4050.

I’m hoping for as much participation as possible in the survey, so please feel free to pass this on to your colleagues at other utilities.

Thank you in advance for your participation in the 2021 Utility Fee Survey.

Is your fee schedule up-to-date?

If, after completing the 2021 Utility Fee Survey, you’re wondering if your fee schedule is up-to-date, please give me a call at 919-673-4050 or email me at gsanders@edmundsgovtech.com for more information about how a business review could help review your current fee structure.

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