Anatomy of a Clusterfu*k – Missouri Gas Energy

I’d like to think that I’m a relatively easy going guy. I try to color inside the lines. I am polite to an extent and I try to eat broccoli once a quarter.

But the things that really piss me off, seem to do so with the fire of a thousand sun and one of those peeves of mine is when I try to give people money and they make it hard to do so.

Just this past weekend I spent hundreds of dollars at Amazon.com on Christmas presents. It was easy. It was about two clicks to get from checkout to done. Heck, I even went to a real store for grins this season (Macy’s) and was surprised at how easy going it was to buy some merchandise there.

But some folks don’t seem to have an eye for customers or service. And Laclede Gas (formerly Missouri Gas Energy) seems to be about as fucked up as you can get.

About three months ago, two of my three major utilities at our house had website upgrades. The Kansas City Water Department and Missouri Gas Energy. Both seemed to be massive and wide-sweeping and both required me to re-register. In the days when you got an actual bill, this would seem to be counter productive, but I’m all for upgrades, so what the heck. Even though I had never had a problem paying my bills on either website, I went ahead and did the re-enrollment.

The KC Water site took about three minutes and I got my monthly bill paid with no problem.

When it came to re-enrolling on the Gas department website, I was pointed to this 11 page booklet of instructions:

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It took probably 20 minutes to follow the instructions and the password didn’t work the first three times I tried it.

At that point, I gave up. Maybe they were having a bad day (they were, their site had crashed). But my bill was one day past due, so I went ahead and paid it using my finance program Quicken through their electronic bill pay. Sure, it’d be a few days overdue, but I’ll take the $2 late fee.

Another month passed and my bill was again due. This time, I was able to successfully register with the new website! Yay! Maybe they got their problems solved!

Then, I was thrown back out to the main page where I was prompted to search for the login button. No “LOGIN HERE”. No “PAY YOUR BILL HERE DUMMY” just a tiny hyperlink after four other hyperlinks. I have a Computer Science degree and I clicked two wrong things. Imagine having to explain this to someone’s grandmother!

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Remember: I’M TRYING TO GIVE YOU MONEY!!

Okay, so I found the login box and got logged in. Great!! Now let’s pay my bill!

Well… not just yet. Because it’s showing me what I owe, but no real place to pay…

I mean… I see what I owe, but I’m presented with TWO places to pay my bill. When I click on ONE TIME BILL PAYMENT – it throws up a dialogue box (which you normally associate with an error box) saying you’ll be taken to a third-party vendor to pay. WHY??? You can’t run a credit card? Hell, get a PayPal account. It’s easy. I have one. I can take Credit Cards more efficiently that Missouri Gas Energy.

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So, I go ahead and go out to this third-party website where I’m asked for… wait for it… MY MGE ACCOUNT NUMBER. It didn’t carry over. Un-fucking believable.

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Remember. My gas bill is like $40. I could literally drive to the Gas company and give them two $20 bills and drive back in the time it’s going to take to get this bill paid. And this is the SECOND month I’m trying it.

No. I don’t have my Account number, you made me enroll in paperless billing last year and the temporary tattoo with all my account numbers I had on my ass faded.

So I gave up and went back over to Quicken and tried to pay again. But I noticed that the bill from the month before had never cleared. And I never got a past due notice from MGE. It’s the same account I’ve paid for 15 years in the same house.

Apparently, the account numbers changed with the “upgrade” as well – or something.

So now I owe TWO bills, plus a late fee.

Jump ahead to month THREE. This morning, I log into the MGE website. Looks like I only owe one month now, so that’s good. But I again, don’t know my account number.

I just don’t understand why it’s so hard for people to give money to a utility. I don’t have this problem with KCP&L. I don’t even have this problem with the Water department after their upgrade.

Missouri Gas Energy… good luck getting my money on time. I’m going to chalk it up to bad gas.

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