DANDRIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Thousands of customers of Shady Grove Utility in Dandridge received quite a surprise Monday. Text and email messages warned customers since they did not pay their most recent bill, their service could be disconnected.
One customer, fearing a scam, called WATE’s Don Dare to get help. Dare reached out to the utility company and got some answers. The company shares that there had been a glitch in the system. As there are so many scams out sent by text, it’s no wonder Melissa Deering figured the message she received was fake.
The message sent out read, “Shady Grove Utilities has not received your payment due 10/15/22. Disconnect is scheduled for all unpaid balances on 10/26/22.”
“I knew I had paid it. I pay it the first week of every month. So I didn’t understand why I was getting it. So, immediately I called my bank and checked it out and found out that it went through on the 6th of October,” said Deering.
She told Dare she send a text back saying it was incorrect with the check number and when it finished processing. Her monthly water bill from Shady Grove Utility is between $35 and $40 and she didn’t want to pay a reconnect fee.
Concerned about the text, she called utility services. The phone kept ringing.
“A busy signal, saying user busy, user busy. So I continuously kept calling and still couldn’t get through,” said Deering.
Dare contacted Shady Grove Utility in Dandridge. General Manager Mike Jones said in a statement, “The notice that Melissa Deering received was sent to all of our customers by mistake through a third-party provider. Normally if a customer has not paid their monthly bill by mid-month, in this case, Oct. 15, a disconnect notice is sent by text, email or phone to individual customers that they had 10 days to pay their bill.”
Further in his statement, Jones wrote, “There was an error in the outbound calling file and all customers received this notice in error, instead of the customers whose payment we had not received. Shady Grove Utility District apologizes to our valued customers for any inconvenience.”
“That’s great, that’s good, that’s good. I’m glad to hear that because it sure did scare me. It’s good to own up to mistakes and say you’re sorry,” said Deering.
Shady Grove Utility says since every one of its 9,000 plus customers received the text, they’re urging customers to give them a call or stop by their office in Dandridge.
Jones said since Monday, their phones have been busy with customers concerned about the text.
The utility has also contacted its third-party provider, who sent a message, telling them about the issue. Shady Grove Utility hopes the incident will never happen again.