Most mornings, when I wake up, I read the news. Some days there is a lot of great information about how people are changing the world. Other days, the news is sad. Today is one of those days. A woman in New Jersey who was dependent on an electric-powered oxygen tank died yesterday afternoon after her electricity was disconnected because she couldn’t afford to pay. Linda Daniels, who was 68, was on hospice care and literally needed the oxygen to survive. She had suffered from congestive heart failure, and this was her only way to continue living.
Turning off someone’s electricity for non-payment isn’t necessarily new. Those are the rules of society. If you can’t pay your bills, you can’t have the service. Should there be a point when corporations care about people using their services? To make matters worse, the temperature in Newark on Thursday was well into the 90s. Her family said that this added to her suffering. Daniels’ granddaughter, Mia, had this to say about her passing:
“She was trying to catch her breath – she was gasping for air. She suffered and she passed right in front of us. She was gasping until the time she died.”
The family spent the afternoon applying ice packs to their grandmother’s sides and fanning her in an attempt to keep her cool. What else could they do? But the sad fact is that this isn’t a story about a woman who couldn’t pay her bills. It’s a sad story about a woman who paid her bill, but Public Services Electric & Gas (PSE&G) wouldn’t turn the power back on, and as a result, she died. Daniels had paid $500 to the company just two days before. Her family members called PSE&G and pleaded with them to turn the power back on. And yet – here we are.
PSE&G issued a statement which indicated that the power was disconnected due to a lack of payment over several months. Further to that, a company spokesman had the following to say:
“As part of our policy, PSE&G had notified this customer numerous times that their account was in arrears and that they would be scheduled for a service termination unless the account was made current.”
Like I said earlier – these kinds of policies make sense when its a matter of non-payment. And yes, she was late making the payment, but PSE&G’s processing of the payment should happen faster. I can understand how and why these systems are slow, to begin with, but they shouldn’t be that way.
For some of the bills that I have to pay, the company tells me to pay them at least 5 days in advance of the due date, because it takes that long to process an online payment. Why? Why does it take 5 days to process something that is going directly from my bank account to yours? That’s ridiculous. And, in some cases, it means life or death. PSE&G definitely needs to figure out why this woman lost her life as a result of their inability to process a payment. The family is considering legal action, but right now their main focus is the funeral on Wednesday.