SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Memphis Light Gas & Water is making changes to where you can pay your utility bill.
Right now, there are 93 places where you can pay your utility bill and 30 of them are Ace Cash Express shops, a payday lending company.
MLGW officials told FOX13 some of those locations charge fees to process your bill but some of them don’t.
Tuesday, MLGW said they are working to remove Ace Cash Express as one of its payment locations.
The changes come after community members voiced concerns about the use of payday lenders as payment locations.
According to MLGW, Ace Cash Express processed almost $8 million worth of transactions last year alone.
“We need somewhere to pay - somewhere else to pay our utility bills,” Tristain Davis told FOX13. “The locations are kind of few and far in between.”
Davis said she isn’t a fan of payday lenders like Ace Cash Express as payment locations for utility bills.
She said there’s always a risk of getting a short-term loan.
“I think it’s a rip-off because you’re paying additional fees to pay your light bill as if it isn’t higher enough,” she said.
MLGW officials told FOX13 they’re heard those concerns too.
That’s why the utility company is working with its vendor FirsTech to remove 30 Ace Cash Express shops as payment locations for bills.
Representatives with Ace Cash Express said they accepted and processed 93,125 payments for 23,538 MLGW customers during the two year period ending December 31, 2019.
The company said 97%t of MLGW customers did not receive a short-term loan during their visit or within 24 hours of their store visit.
MLGW customer Gladys Dawson told FOX13, “MLGW, they always work with me.”
According to the utility, 20% of customers like Dawson pay their bills in person at one of its five community offices. Dawson said she wishes there were more of those throughout the city. But MLGW said that may not be feasible.
“It is also the most expensive operations, say on a per transaction basis,” MLGW Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Dana Jeanes told FOX13. “What we’re trying to do with these pay agents around the community is actually spread them around so there are lots of options all around the community.”
Jeanes said all 93 locations are considered authorized agents which means if you make a payment there, those payments post same day or next day. He said it’s essentially the same as coming into one of the MLGW officers.
MLGW told FOX13 they believe it’ll take about three months to replace Ace Cash Express with another company and to get that company set up to accept bill payments.
Additionally, MLGW said they’re working on a communications plan so customers know when these changes are finalized.
Here’s a breakdown of all 93 payment locations for MLGW bills:
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