In a letter sent out in August, several frequent users of the North Fort Myers LCEC Walk-in Payment Center voiced questions on the upcoming reduced hour and the 2012 closure of that center.
LCEC is the main supplier of electricity to Lehigh Acres residents and businesses.
Effective Tuesday, Sept. 13, the new hours for the North Fort Myers Payment Center became Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
On Friday, March 30, 2012, the North Fort Myers Payment Center will close permanently.
LCEC spokesperson Karen Ryan said that numerous notices of the changes have been put before the public over several months, including advertisements, notices in customer newsletters, electronic phone messages and more.
Yet some said they were not aware of the changes until they got their letter, and had some had additional questions.
The main questions were:
- Will we lose more jobs in the area?
- What exactly are my free payment options like at the walk-in?
- If giving my bank information is an option, how will I know my information is secure?
Of the jobs issue, Ryan said, "We actually have two cashiers in our payment center that are already cross-trained to work in our contact center. No one will lose a job," she said.
The Customer Care Center, part of the headquarters, will not close. "They (customers) can call in and talk to representative, they can also schedule an appointment to meet with a representative in person."
Concerning free payment options available to LCEC customers, she listed the following:
1. AutoPay - automatically deducted from checking account/savings day before due date.
2. PowerPay - online payments made using checking/savings account number.
3. Pay By Phone - pay over the phone using checking/savings account
4. LCEC Drop Box - pay with check, cashier's check, money order at LCEC
If you do choose to use a debit or credit card, there is a third party service fee of $5.50.
Concerning giving out your banking information, Ryan said, "These are secure sites, Auto Pay and on-line and pay by phone."
If you want to pay by cash an other methods without giving out banking information, "There are other places you can go, including Lawhon's Grocery & Meat and a total of four area locations, who will accept cash, check or money orders for a $1.50 fee."
Other locations include Stars & Stripes on Laurel Lane, Pak-n-Ship in the Del Tura area and EL Aguila on Pondella Road. "Those easily cover all of North Fort Myers," Ryan said, with 21 places to pay in the service area.
"Authorized pay stations are listed on our website - lcec.net - where customers can put in their ZIP code to find the closest location."
Why the closure?
It is an effort to keep costs down to pass on to customers, she said. More and more people are choosing to pay online and by phone, so the cost of processing is higher at the walk-in, which is seeing less and less customers.