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Unknown number of paid-up City utility customers greeted with “Late Notice” message on latest invoices

Example of Ferndale utility invoice with errant “Late Notice” message (January 7, 2020). Source: City of Ferndale

FERNDALE, Wash. — Some City of Ferndale utility customers got a surprise on their latest invoice that contained a message about their account being past-due, even if they were paid-up.

Officials with the City of Ferndale said they were unaware of the problem until some customers brought it to their attention.

Communications Officer Riley Sweeney said in an email, “The printing error was discovered when a few customers noticed the late notice language at the bottom of the bill.”

Sweeney was unable to say how many or which customers might encounter the message on their utility bills. “We are reviewing that now with Databar.” Databar Inc., has been hired by the city to use data provided to them to print and mail individual invoices.

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This late notice serves as a reminder of your past due balance. The city is waiving late fees and shut-offs for the June 30th billing. Please call 1-855-288-1569 to make a payment by phone or visit our website to pay online. See below for the general idea:

“Late Notice” language included in error on some December 31, 2020 City of Ferndale utility invoices that were mailed to customers.

“We have verified the rest of the information on the bill is correct.” Sweeney said.

The community is being warned of the error through a post on the City’s website, through a press release and on social media.

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When asked what is going to change to reduce if not eliminate future errors, Sweeney responded, “Thanks to the implementation of our new utility billing online portal scheduled for 2021, we will be phasing out our use of Databar as customers opt out of paper bills,” Sweeney said.

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