Some Fresno residents and businesses are struggling to pay their monthly utility bills due to an issue with the city’s electronic payment system.
For weeks, utility customers trying to pay their bills online or over the phone found themselves in a bind.
“In case you get calls or get calls, we have an issue with our online payment portal for utility bills,” Deputy City Manager Georgeanne White told Fresno City Council on Thursday.
The problem has persisted for weeks
Council Chairman Luis Chavez said his office had received calls from concerned residents worried about late fees if their bills could not be paid on time.
Board member Esmeralda Soria said she encountered an issue with her own automatic payment and emailed the utilities department for information.
White said city staff only became aware of the issue on Wednesday.
“We will post something on the website today and post on social media acknowledging the problem and making sure our residents know that there are other options for paying their bills than the online portal,” said she declared.
The external supplier runs the payment system
White said the issue was caused by a faulty online interface provided by a third-party vendor. She said it was taking longer than expected to resolve the issue.
She was unable to provide a timeline for when the interface will function properly again.
“Honestly, I don’t want to promise too much or deliver too much. We have leaders from both teams working on it, and I think we want to make sure people know their other options, ”White said. “I would like to say it’s going to be done today, but I don’t want to make that commitment.”
Other payment options available
A message regarding the credit card processing issue is now posted on the city’s website.
The message encourages customers who normally pay with a credit card through the city’s web-based payment portal, automated phone system, SMS to pay, or automatic payment to choose another method to ensure speedy processing.
Options include paying by check or money order in person at Fresno Town Hall, using drop-off locations at Town Hall or Manchester Mall, or sending their payment by US courier. Customers can use their bank’s online or mobile bill payment feature to make a payment.
Residents can also contact the city’s customer service line to speak with a representative Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at (559) 621-6888.
Will late fees be charged?
City officials say they are waiving any late fees or penalties that can be attributed to credit card payments rejected by their system.
The city’s COVID emergency ordinance remains in place, which also eliminates late fees for non-payment of utilities on time.
“It’s fair to say they’re working on the problem, but your late fees will be waived and you won’t have to go through another (fee waiver) process,” Chavez said.