Much Needed Relief for Hurricane Ike Victims

September 28, 2008

Power and gas retailers
Reliant Energy is waiving late fees indefinitely and will be working with its customers on flexible payment terms and extensions to meet their needs, said communications director Pat Hammond. Reliant, which has about 1.8 million customers in  Texas , also has suspended its credit and collection activity and has stopped disconnecting customers for non-payment.’ We realize that Hurricane Ike has created a lot of difficult financial hardships for  people, and we want to do what we can to work with our customers during this difficult time,’ said Hammond . ‘Wee ask customers to call us and work out a payment with us,’ she said.

Green Mountain Energy is waiving late fees for customers who call in and let the company know they were affected by Ike, according to a statement from the company. GreenMountain also is extending its deferred payment plan.

CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas customers affected by Ike will  not receive late notices and late fees will be waived, said  spokeswoman Leticia Lowe. In addition, the utility will also waive security deposits for customers displaced by the storm, she said.



Compass Bank has waived access fees to its network of ATMs in  Houston and other cities in Texas where it figures Houstonians fleeing the storm may need quick cash, said Thomas Graham, executive vice president of communications in Houston . The bank also is allowing its small business and consumer customers to efer their loan payments, such as car and recreational vehicle loans. The deferral is up to 60 days depending on the customer’s individual circumstances. Customers  who need early access to their certificates of deposit can have them  without paying early withdrawal fees, he said. And late payments will be forgiven, he said. Graham stressed – as did other service providers  the importance of giving notice that a payment will be late.
Capital One is working with its customers affected by Ike on a case-by-case basis, said spokeswoman Pam Girardo in McLean , Bathe bank has a hardship policy and some examples of what it can do for its customers include waiving late fees, going-over-credit-limit fees and non-sufficient funds fees, she said. Capital One will also consider reducing a customer’s minimum payments, deferring payments for a limited time, waiving finance charges and waiving accrued interest. Customers need to call and discuss the options, said Girardo. Capital One also waived the ATM fees for all its customers who use a non-Capital One machine and has suspended all of its collection activity in the area.

Comerica has waived ATM fees for customers who use non-Comerica machines and has expedited its process to boost credit card limits, according to spokeswoman Pamela Cathion. The bank is also offering to donate up to $100 to a charity or community relief organization designated by a new customer who opens a bank account > with at least $2,500.

Discover makes special payment considerations on a case-by-case basis to cardholders affected by a natural disaster, said spokesman Jon Drummond. Those provisions include, but are not limited to, allowing them to delay payments, and waving minimum  payments, late fees and other charges for specific amounts of time depending on a customer’s need.
American Express spokeswoman Molly Faust said the company will handle each cardholder’s situation on an individual basis. If you need help, please call the toll-free number on the back of your card, or visit and click on ‘Hurricane Response: Assistance for our Customers.’
Chase is asking its customers facing financial difficulty to contact the bank as soon as possible and it will work with them on an individual basis, according to spokesman Greg Hassell. Telecom companies

Cable and Communication Providers
T-Mobile is topping off pre-paid cell phones that were running low at no charge to make sure people don’t run out of  service, and it has suspended collections calls in Houston and Galveston.

Sprint is waiving roaming fees, call-forwarding, late fees and overage charges for customers who use more minutes or text messages than they’re allowed between Sept. 9 and Oct. 11, said spokeswoman Kristin Wallace. The company is also offering free call-forwarding service and Sprint has suspended collections calls and service disconnections.
AT&T has suspended all disconnections and collection activities. The company is providing free local and long-distance calling in all of its retail stores, and is offering free Wi-Fi service to anyone at all area Barnes and Noble locations, said spokesman Dan Feldstein. AT&T will work with customers on their billing on a case-by-case basis. AT&T also offers its customers rollover minutes, allowing them to absorb a month in which their usage is heavier than normal.
Verizon Wireless is giving one month of free service in the 409 area code and has suspended collections calls in the Greater Houston area, said spokeswoman Gretchen LeJeune.
Verizon which provides landline phone service in several cities around GalvestonBay , has suspended collections calls and disconnections, said spokesman Lee Gierczynski.
Comcast has suspended disconnections and collections, said spokesman Ray Purser.
Time Warner Cable, which provides cable service for Beaumont and parts of Southeast Texas , has credited customers’ accounts back to Sept. 12 and will extend credits until service is restored, said spokesman Gary Underwood. The company also is not disconnecting customers or making collections calls.



 Allstate is offering deferred billing options, according to spokeswoman Kristen Beaman. The company will send affected customers a letter, but those who have been relocated can call their agent or 800-547-8676.

USAA will waive late fees if customers are a few days behind, according to spokesman Justin Schmitt. The company, which also has a bank and offers financial services, also will offer fixed-rate new vehicle auto loans as low as 5.39 percent for people who lost cars in floodwaters. In addition, it will waive insufficient funds fees on checking and savings accounts.

(Provided by Stewart Title)