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Utility customers pay extra for 'convenience'

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By Roger Snodgrass

At a recent meeting of the Los Alamos County Council, Assistant Utilities Manager John Arrowsmith reported that 38 customers had paid their utility bills by credit card, including an additional “convenience fee” of $4.95.

Some residents found the new arrangement convenient, but not everybody was happy about the new charge.

Sheila Shiferl of White Rock said she went in to the utilities office to pay her bill on Friday and discovered a sign that said she would have to pay an extra $4.95 for the service, a new charge that she was not aware of.

She said she hadn’t been notified by the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities but was informed by the cashier at the 311 Customer Care Center that notices would be coming out in the new bills.

Arrowsmith was asked this week to explain the new service and the new charge.

“Customers had been telling us that they would like the convenience of paying their utility bills with a credit card online,” said Arrowsmith. “That option became available on April 21. With this new payment option customers have the flexibility to pay a utilities bill securely over the telephone or through the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”