Ohio woman pays neighbor's electric bill for 12 years, meters switched

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WESTLAKE, Ohio - Maria Latona finally solved a 12-year mystery, after she determined she was paying her neighbor's electric bill since 2000.

Latona made the startling discovery after she hired an electrician, who determined her electric meter was somehow swapped with her next-door neighbor's meter, when the condo complex was built.

FirstEnergy confirmed Latona was paying for her next-door neighbor's electric usage, which was much higher.

"I was told I was paying $100 more a month than I should," said Latona. "This is beyond ridiculous. FirstEnergy should take full responsibility for this."

Latona told Scripps Sister Station NewsChannel5 she was being sent monthly bills that exceeded $200, and claimed she called FirstEnergy dozens of times to get them to check her electrical wiring.

"They never sent anyone out. They would just send me information on how to make my condo more energy efficient," explained Latona.

FirstEnergy sent a team to the Westlake complex in October and switched the meters to the proper accounts. The company then agreed to credit Latona for 6 of the 12 years, issuing her a $3,400 check.

Latona believes she should be given a full refund.

"I don't think they're being fair at all. I'm a paying customer," said Latona. "I should be given a refund for all 12 years. This wasn't my mistake."

NewsChannel5 contacted FirstEnergy headquarters and the company issued the following written response:

"The meter base and internal wiring of a customer's electrical service is the customer's responsibility. The Illuminating Company simply puts the meter into the base as instructed by the builder."

"In this case, the builder, not our company, marked the meters, so the switched meter was not our fault."

FirstEnergy said it gave Latona a refund on 6 years of inaccurate bills as a "customer courtesy," and considers the case closed.

NewsChannel5 has also contacted the builder of the complex, who is now in the process of sending crews to the scene, hoping determine if subcontractors accidentally switched the wiring in Latona's unit.

Latona told 5 On Your Side she will continue to pursue the matter with FirstEnergy.

"I guess I'm not surprised, especially when you're building so many units," expressed Latona. "I was shocked initially, but now I guess all I can do is laugh more than anything."

Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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