AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Georgia Power plans to close its local offices, sending customers to retail stores and online to pay bills. Two CSRA offices will be closed for good. Those locations are in Augusta and Evans. It’s part of Georgia Power’s efforts to become more modern as its customers change their bill paying habits.
Arthur Harris, like most people, pays his Georgia Power bill once a month.
“This place is convenient,” he told NewsChannel 6 while walking out of the Walton Way office.
Georgia Power customers such as Harris who like walking into the Walton Way office to pay a bill need to start making other plans. The company announced its closing more than two dozen offices still open around the state and Augusta is on the list. Some say going to that location works best.
“For a lot of people that ride the bus transportation and stuff like that,” Harris said explaining who benefits from going into the office.
Others we spoke with said they won’t miss it when it closes.
Tom Alderson, of Hephzibah, was OK with the closure.
“It’s not convenient,” he said. “It’s real hard to get to. It’s downtown. I live in the suburbs.”
Georgia Power closed several businesses last year. Customers have been informed that after October 12, all local offices will shut their doors.
In a statement, a spokesperson said:
At Georgia Power we are continuing to evolve our business in response to our customers’ changing needs, while ensuring world-class service at the lowest possible prices. Over the past decade, payment transactions have shifted from traditional business offices and mail to electronic payments (online, mobile and auto-draft) and APLs, which account for nearly 70% of all payments.
The news was not good for those loyal to the brick and mortar, such as Latoya Goodwin.
“Then it means we have to pay online or go to a bill pay center. Yeah, I don’t like that,” she shook her head.
Customers in Evans will face the same problem come October. That office is on the list as well. Something Deborah Dietschler was not happy about.
“I don’t want to do it on the computer. I don’t want to call a call center. They don’t speak my language. I don’t speak theirs,” she said.
There will still be Authorized Payment Locations, but Dietschler quickly responded, “But they charge. So that makes your Georgia Power bill even more. That’s the pits.”
Customers familiar with going to the Walton Way office have several options less than a mile from that location, such as the Family Dollar store and Rite Aid.
Those in Evans have the same alternatives at TPS, Walgreens and Publix
and countless other Authorized Payment Locations searchable online.
Customers still have the option of paying by mail and by phone.
“Since it’s closing I probably will be online,” Goodwin said.
Here is a breakdown:
To pay online using a DEBIT CARD: It’s free
To pay online using a checking/savings account: It’s free
To pay online using a CREDIT CARD: There is a $2.25 fee
To pay via phone using check,credit, debit or savings: There is a $2.25 fee
These two fees are because Georgia Power/Southern Company uses a 3rd party biller to process the payments. For more information, click here.
There is also a new was to bill pay called Georgia Power CheckOut™ giving customers a chance to pay bills using a barcode at places such as Dollar General, Family Dollar and Speedway.
The closures will impact about 300 Georgia Power employees across the state. Many will stay with the company. As many as 100 have decided to take a severance package and part ways. The spokesperson said 100 will be impacted by a reduction in force.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps