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COA Utilities: a year of living dangerously

The $200 deposit that COA charges could buy 56 double "cheseburges" at this local Burger King
The $200 deposit that COA charges could buy 56 double "cheseburges" at this local Burger King
Photo by Derrick Wescott

I moved into my current apartment in 2009, and I had to pay a $200 deposit towards my City of Austin (COA) utilities.  It's been a year - now where's my deposit back?

I haven't received any fun letters in the mail proclaiming, "A year has come and gone, so get ready to have some fun with your $200 deposit refund!"  I suppose I'll have to call them and speak to some rude customer service rep and beg for the deposit back.

I shouldn't have had to pay that stupid deposit in the first place.  When I used to live in a smaller part of Texas, utilities deposits were unheard of.  But I guess COA feels it needs to stick with its "higher cost of living" mentality for this city.

When I first moved to Austin in 2008, I wasn't charged a utilities deposit, so that was nice.  But when I moved to my new place in 2009, my final utilities bill for the previous apartment got lost in the mail.  So I didn't pay it on time, since I obviously hadn't received it.

So all of a sudden, COA decided to charge me this $200 deposit on my new apartment.  I called them and asked them why, especially since I was always such a good customer.  This rude customer service lady said it was because of that one late charge I had made.  I told her it got lost in the mail, but she said that I could have called them and asked for my balance.

Who the [heck] would call and ask how much they owed?

When I asked to speak to a supervisor, or at least someone nice, she said, "Look, there's nothing that anyone can do for you about the deposit.  The only way to change it is to write a letter to the legislature and have them change the law."

This is definitely the worst law ever.  One late payment and all of a sudden I'm out $200?

"So when do I get my deposit back?" I asked the lady.

"After one year, as long as you don't have any more late payments."

That was one year ago.  Who knows what COA has been doing with my $200.  If they invested it at, say, 10%, they'd have made a $20 profit out of it.

Good for them.  Now give it back to me, so that a simple Austinite like me who COA is supposed to support can invest that money myself, so that I can feed my babies (okay, so I don't have children, but it's the principle of the matter).

I need to write a letter to the legislature now, and I suggest you do the same, Dear Reader.

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