‘Anxiety to anger’: Highway 8 residents billed for no service

Residents on Highway 8 near the Spences Bridge have been displaced since the Nicola River flood on Nov. 15.

The devastated area had no cell or internet service for nearly five weeks, but when Steven Rice recently received his Telus bill, he was charged for that time.

“Just imagine you open an invoice and have to sign out for something they can’t sign out anyway – they might as well because you didn’t get it – but they also want you to pay them money. If it doesn’t go from anxiety to anger, I don’t know what’s going on,” said Rice, a resident of Highway 8.

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Rice is one of many billed services. He says that at that time no one in or around Spences Bridge could get a reception unless they drove 18 miles out of town.

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But many evacuees didn’t have cars, so they couldn’t check their emails or see the bills arrive.

Rice says that with three phone lines and two Internet lines, her credit rating has already been affected.

“One of the most important tools in your financial toolbox is your credit score — and if it’s damaged, it not only doesn’t do you any good, it hurts you,” Rice says.

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In an email, Telus says they are currently investigating the situation.

But that’s not the only bill that keeps coming up for Highway 8 residents.

BC Hydro also sent bills to properties that had no power.

The company says it has a bill block for long-term evacuees that prevents them from receiving a bill. However, it came to their attention last week that they had missed a few customers.

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“They’re not expected to pay those bills,” says Mary Ann Coules of BC Hydro Community Relations. “For people whose payments are automatically coming out of their account, if they missed that and now see there was a charge from BC Hydro, we will reimburse them for those funds as well as any charges they may have incurred.”

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However, Rice is still waiting for a solution from Telus. Until then, he worries about other evacuees who might be caught off guard as they try to get back on their feet.

“They’re going to be surprised at their credit score,” he says.

“They may not be able to buy that couch or get that rental or even definitely not buy a house, so I really urge them to check their credit scores.”

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