News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

Utilities Bank Drafting Error Identified and Corrected
Contact : Tom Auzenne, Assistant Director, Utilities    (650) 329-2268
Valerie Fong, Director, Utilities    (650) 329-2277

Palo Alto, CA - On June 15, 2009, the City of Palo Alto Utilities inadvertently charged 830 customers a second time for their May 12, 2009, bill.

Even before the human error in the "Bank Draft" payment program was identified through the City's financial reconciliation process, customers began reporting the problem. The City immediately notified the affected customers' banks and began payment reversals. All funds should be returned to customer accounts by Monday, June 22, at 5:00 PM.

Customers are being notified by of the problem by letter. If full refunds have not been received by Tuesday June 23, 2009, customers are being asked to contact Utilities Customer Service at (650) 329-2161 or Bank fees or penalties incurred by customers due to this duplicate charge will be reimbursed as credits on Utilities bills.

City Manager James Keene stated: "Access to customer financial resources is an important responsibility to us and such errors are totally unacceptable. Additional Bank Draft Program measures and safeguards have been implemented to ensure such errors do not occur again. We apologize to our Utilities customers for any inconvenience this may have caused."

The $243,410.01 error was attributed to new business processes after the changeover to the new Utilities customer information and billing system on May 4, 2009.