If you are considering charging your cut-off fee to every account when the cut-off list leaves your office, as I advocated in the last issue, the next dilemma facing you will be customers who complain.

A common complaint heard from customers of utilities with this policy is “You haven’t cut me off yet, so how can you charge me a cut-off (or reconnect) fee?”. This leaves your customer service representatives in the uncomfortable position of having to explain that, even though the customer hasn’t been cut off yet, the fee still applies.

Alternative terminology

To avoid these kinds of potentially inflammatory conversations with customers, many utilities have changed what they call their cut-off fee. They have adopted alternative terminology such as “delinquent fee”, “non-payment fee”, or some equally creative term that doesn’t imply the customer’s service has been disconnected.

Fee Survey results

While “reconnect fee” and “cut-off fee” were still the most popular, the 99 utilities responding to the 2015 Utility Fee Survey call their cut-off fee 32 different terms! This is a marked increase from the 2012 Utility Fee Survey when there were only 20 different terms.

Is it time to change what you call your cut-off fee?

If your utility charges the cut-off fee as soon as it leaves the office and you still call it a cut-off or reconnect fee, I recommend you consider changing it to a more generic term.