I recently became a new customer with Semco. At that time, I was required to provide a $130.00 deposit even though I never had service with them. The account is in my name alone. I recently married and on the 1st bill, it stated "amount forward" in the amt. of $52.00 I discovered that it was from my husband-5 yrs earlier at a previous residence. He denied owing and said this was the 1st he heard about it.
If I understand the utility laws, Semco had no legal right to demand a deposit for service. Is this correct? They now say that if I want my deposit returned, I must have a guarantee. Also I must agree to put my husband's old bill on mine and be responsible for it. They are also stating that my husband is also a customer even though I never added him to this account, nor did he provide any type of identification. Do you have any advice? Already spoke with a rep from the Commissioner's office, who simply stated that my husband owed the debt. Period. The bill is from dates of service AFTER he moved out, but they're response is that 'he didn't take it out of his name!"


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Jun 13, 2010
dispute over utility bill
by: Gerri & Mary

The short answer is "We don't know." Your question is not technically a debt collection question since the bill has not been turned over to collections, and we aren't experts on all aspects of consumer protection laws.

However, state laws/regulations vary in terms of this issue (whether a balance can "transfer" over from a previous address, as well as deposits that can be required). Normally we would tell you to contact your state's public service commission, but it sounds like you have already tried that.

You may want to try again and see if you get someone more helpful. If not, then you could try calling your Michigan State Representative and asking his or her office to help you get a straight answer on the consumer protection laws that apply.

We would be very interested in hearing how this turns out for you, and hope you can find a way to resolve it. Sorry it's outside our area of expertise.

Jan 29, 2011
by: Anonymous

This is done time and time again by SEMCO. They simply "act blind" to the Michigan Utility Collection Laws. NO, they cannot threaten to turn off your service if you do not pay another person's bill. Please read the Michigan Utility Collection Laws and then file a claim with the Attorney General against Semco for fraudulent collection activities. They know the law, but do this over and over. Until people start learning about the laws and their rights, utility companies such as SEMCO will collect any ole way they choose, even if they're breaking the law.

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