Duke Energy changes automated system so customers can reach customer service quickly

Customers can speak to representative by calling 800-228-8485

By Clay LePard - Reporter, Troy Blevins - Graham Media Group

ORLANDO, Fla. - Duke Energy said it has changed its automated system so consumers can reach customer service employees more quickly.

Customers have an immediate option to speak to a company representative by calling 800-228-8485, a company spokesperson said.

Hurricane Irma overwhelmed some systems Duke Energy said it relies on to provide information to customers.

"We apologize profusely for any issues experienced with our customer service and appreciate our customers’ patience," Duke Energy said. "We continue to experience some technical challenges, but our work will continue until we have every customer restored."

The spokesperson said outbound customer calls were being made in phases throughout the day Saturday to confirm customers' service has been restored, which is part of Duke Energy's normal restoration follow-up process. It does not mean the company did not have a record of their outage, but the call is to verify whether service has been restored, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said some outages may be due to issues at or near a customer's individual residence, such as meter damage or a transformer issue, rather than a circuit that serves their home.

"We appreciate our customers calling us regarding their outage status and they should be assured that if they are re-reporting their outage, it does not place them at the end of the restoration process," Duke Energy said. "Restoration is performed in a sequence from the transmission infrastructure to individual neighborhoods."

Outside of the call campaign, some customers are reporting they have received automated outbound calls, the spokesperson said. Duke Energy turned this function off in its system several days ago, but some cellular networks were backlogged and the calls are now being received.

News 6 received dozens of call Saturday from people who said they tried to report outages they still had with Duke Energy, only to be told their power was already restored.

"Until we get some answers, I'm not going to quit until we get this power back on," said Patricia Williams, of DeLand. "We're not quite sure why these haven't been turned back on and we're not getting a true story from the electric company."

Another Duke Energy spokesperson told News 6 there was a computer glitch with their outage list earlier, but since has been fixed. Despite the glitch, the spokesperson said that Duke Energy was still aware of who did not have power.

Customers can call Duke Energy's automated outage reporting system at 800-228-8485. The company spokesperson said Duke Energy received numerous customer reports that there was no opt-out option in the automated system allowing them to speak to a customer service representative. All calls now go directly to a customer service specialist.

The spokesperson said customers can text "OUT" to 57801 to report their outage. The cell number they are texting from must be registered on their account. If not, they will be directed on how to register that number.

Customers can visit this page for outage by county information and to report an outage. The spokesperson said if a customer finds an outage map online, they should go to the outages by county report for the most updated information.

Customers can text "STATUS" for information. The spokesperson said they will be directed to the Irma webpage link for ETRs by county.

Customers can follow Duke Energy on Twitter and Facebook (Duke Energy) for updated information.

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