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3,000 Bright House customers' accounts wrongly debited

About 3,000 Bright House Networks customers saw their checking accounts take an unexpected hit: The telecom debited their accounts three times this week for one month's payment.

The company discovered the error Tuesday when Bright House found that its third party vendor, Bill to Pay, incorrectly processed customers' checks that had been mailed in for payment.

"There was a problem with the check processing procedure," said Joe Durkin, a Bright House spokesman. "If customers find that they've had this happen to them, they should contact their bank first or Bright House Networks."

Durkin said Bright House will "make whole" any customers who might have suffered overdrafts of their checking accounts because of the check processing error. And all customers who were charged multiple times will be refunded the extra money that was wrongly debited.

"This is a top priority," he said. "It's regrettable that this happened."

Bright House, which has 2 million Florida customers, expects to have the problem fixed today, Durkin said.

Here's what went wrong:

The problem affected customers who mailed a check to Bright House, Durkin said. The checks went to a lockbox, and Bill to Pay collected them for processing through Bank of America. During that procedure, each of the 3,000 Florida customers' accounts were debited three times instead of one.

Ken Ward of Seminole was one of the customers who saw the extra drain on his checking account when he looked at his balance online Thursday. Debits of $120 were listed three times.

"When I called Bright House they said, 'Yes, there were a few people who had this problem,' and they would work to fix it as soon as possible," Ward said. "But when I contacted my bank this morning, they said it was a lot more then a few, as people have been calling all morning about this problem."

Though his account wasn't facing an overdraft because of the error, Ward said he worried about others who might be living paycheck to paycheck suddenly finding hundreds of dollars missing from their accounts.

"Nothing like getting yourself set up for overdrawing your checking account right before Christmas," Ward said.

Ivan Penn can be reached at ipenn@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2332.

3,000 Bright House customers' accounts wrongly debited 12/05/13 [Last modified: Thursday, December 5, 2013 10:12pm]
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