Woman’s TECO bill spikes after husband’s death

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Brenda Spivey’s electric bill spiked after her husband’s death. The 72-year-old widow called 8 On Your Side Investigates for help.

“It was just shock,” Spivey said.

Spivey’s husband, Marlow, took care of her heart and the bills. After he passed away from cancer, Spivey called Tampa Electric to take over the account.

She says she fully explained the situation to a representative. She wanted to take her deceased spouses’ name off the account and become the primary account holder.

According to Spivey, the representative told her that she was now considered a new customer.

“I lost my budget billing, which is why my bill is so high,” said Spivey. “I can’t get that back for a year.”

Spivey says her monthly bill suddenly increased by more than $100.

She says two representatives told her this was the company policy.

“I feel like I’m being punished,” she said. “The living spouse should never be treated this way.”

8 On Your Side Investigates called TECO to ask about the policy and whether it could be changed. Within hours, a spokeswoman got back to us promising to immediately fix Spivey’s bill.

According to the spokeswoman, the TECO representative was wrong.

“They have promised to fix this for you,” investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi told Spivey.

“How wonderful,” she responded.

Spivey hopes that this story will help other widows know their rights in a similar situation.

TECO encourage that new customers have a 12-month history before getting on the Budget Billing program.

In a case where a spouse is deceased, the surviving spouse can get Budget Billing right away, according to a company spokeswoman.

“I am just so happy that I thought of you guys,” said Spivey.

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