It’s Time to Leave Convenience Fees in the Dust

Convenience fees— no one likes them (including us), and now Pioneer Electric will have the ability to avoid those pesky fees when making payments on a residential account.

“You asked and we listened,” said Anita Wendt, vice president of energy services. “Members taking service under the Pioneer’s residential rate tariff now have the freedom to avoid convenience fees when making payments toward their residential accounts whether by credit/debit card, e-Check, through MoneyGram, by app or online. We hope this will encourage members to take advantage of our various payment options and find one that fits the needs of their lifestyles.”
Previously, members paid an additional $3.95 convenience fee when making payments involving e-Check or credit/debit cards. This was used to offset the transaction fees charged for e-Checks or by credit/debit card providers each time a member used these options to make a payment. When the convenience fee was initially implemented, Pioneer Electric could not rely on electric revenue to help offset the cost of members using these payment methods. However, member feedback and discounts provided by these credit card companies prompted Pioneer Electric to review this procedure.

“Many large stores and retail businesses embed the service charge for these payment transactions into the price of the goods, products and services they provide,” Wendt said. “However, utilities historically could not embed and recover the cost in an effective manner. But, with the declining transaction fees, we saw other utilities managing these costs and we looked to see how we could implement this at Pioneer Electric.”

Members under commercial (large and small) or irrigation classifications will also notice a change under the new payment procedure. These member rate classes will no longer be able to utilize payment methods involving credit/debit cards because these payment transactions produce a large charge (a percentage of the total bill) from these companies. The transaction cost would then be shared among the members of that rate class, potentially causing a noticeable increase in rates. However, members of these rate classes will be able to take advantage of e-Check, Auto-pay (ACH) or traditional check payment options.

“Managing rates is always a concern for us,” Wendt said. “We looked at various scenarios and we felt this gave the most flexibility to members and ensured a minimal impact on electric bills. We hope this will encourage members to try other payment options they may not have used in the past. Change comes from our members. We are more than a utility; we are a service company. We strive to give our members the best experience with their cooperative and that wouldn’t be possible without their input.”
Members with questions regarding these changes may call our office at 620-356-1211 for additional information and assistance.