Letters to the Editor

Hidden tax

February 6, 2011


To the editor:

Cheers to Chad Lawhorn’s Jan. 30 article detailing the late charges on Lawrence citizen Kelly Elsten’s utility bill. We, too, pay our bill through the bank, days before the due date, and upon inspection we discovered two years of charges with the vague term “adjustment.”

Director of Finance Ed Mullins seems quite callous in quotes such as “it’s pretty clear to most people ‘adjustment’ means ‘late fee.’” These days, the term “adjustment” can mean a myriad of things from a rate increase to a change in the billing cycle, not to mention its ubiquitous use in today’s cable, credit card and cell phone bills. If we were to take Mr. Mullins’ advice (“if you see an adjustment, you should ask about it”), we would be on the phone (likely on hold) for most of a day.

What angers me is some entity replaced “late fee” with “adjustment” and, by keeping the dollar amount low, it flies under most citizens’ radar and results in a hidden tax. It seems deceitful. Had the city utility department used the clear and concise “late fee,” we would have discovered the error years ago and corrected it then, instead of spending valuable time digging through old bills.

I’m glad Mr. Lawhorn brought this to our attention. Good Work!


Richard Heckler 7 years, 2 months ago

Is a late fee truly necessary?

Is this just another "cooked up" scheme to make more money?

So much is done electronically how can there be that much added expense?

notajayhawk 7 years, 2 months ago

"Is a late fee truly necessary?"

See if you can find someone to explain the term "cost of capital" to you.

Katara 7 years, 2 months ago

Are people not aware that you can email your questions? I've done so and gotten very prompt responses.

And why should how little the amount charged keep you from asking what it is?

Since, as the LTE states, the term "adjustment" can mean a myriad of things, why aren't you asking when you first see it? Don't people look over their bills? I don't understand why one would just accept a charge being billed to them without questioning what it is for.

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