Sirrea Monroe never expected her electricity to get shut off — she was only $70 behind, and she planned to pay it off after her next paycheck. What happened next shocked her: “I called to get it turned back on, paid the $70 with what was supposed to be my rent money, and then the lady says, ‘Great, thank you for your payment! Now I need $250 for the ‘new customer’ deposit.’” Monroe, a convenience-store manager who has a child with special health needs, was in disbelief. “I’m like, ‘Look, I couldn’t afford $70. Where am I going to get $250?’ Now I’ll be more in the hole than I was before.”
Monroe had been a customer of the electric company for more than a decade, and the power had been off for less than an hour. It did not matter: She had to pay it. It took more than six months to pay off.