Dead neighbor meter mix-up leads to $4,000 electric bill for NJ woman

HOLMDEL, New Jersey (WABC) -- A woman in New Jersey says she has paid her electric bill for the last 23 years, but all of a sudden she was billed $4,000 because of a meter mix up with her now-dead neighbor.

It all started when one of Alyse Liebowitz's neighbors passed away. His daughter discovered, and complained to Jersey Central Power and Light, that her dad's unit was still receiving larger than expected electric bills.

"The field rep started to pull the meters out of the building to see whose lights went off because they had no idea what his meter was being billed to, and unfortunately my lights went out so they knew that he was being billed for my usage and I was being billed for his usage," Liebowitz said.

She said the meters had been mislabeled and they must have been that way for at least the past 24 years while they both lived there.

"We had no idea all these years, neither one of our bills were that unusually large or small that it would have triggered any concern, and even if it did, we would never think, 'oh my neighbor over there must be mislabeled,'" she said.

Liebowitz said she and her neighbor paid their bills on time, so neither had a delinquent account. But she said JCP and L told her she still had to pay back what she would have been charged had the meter mix up not happened.

She had her bill on auto pay from her credit card, and says the utility began dipping in big time.

"Three thousand here, $600 here, $400 here... it was constant, it was pretty frightening," Liebowitz said.

She is disputing it all through the board of public utilities. JCP and L already refunded the money back to her card, but the company still wants her to pay up - while she says her neighbor's family is requesting a refund for the years of him overpaying.

JCP and L says it is actively reviewing the matter and will provide the board of public utilities any requested information.

While it is in dispute, the bill is on hold and they are not allowed to shut off her service, but it could take months to get it resolved.

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