A woman who lives on Montreal's south shore has been footing the wrong hydro bill for years, and she only found out by accident a couple weeks ago.
Monique Daviau, who lives in Contrecoeur, Que., had always found her hydro bills a bit expensive, but she didn't think much of it.
If he had paid his bill ... I would have never found out. - Monique Daviau
Then, on the morning of Aug. 12, she woke up to a darkened house.
At first Daviau figured it was just a power outage, but after hours without electricity she phoned Hydro-Québec.
That's when she was told that her power had been cut because her bill hadn't been paid.
Except Daviau had paid her bill, or at least what she thought was her bill.
It turns out Daviau and her neighbour had been paying each other's bills since Oct. 2012, when Daviau first moved in.
She lives in a semi-detached home, and her address was swapped with her neighbour's by accident.
"If he had paid his bill all the time, I would have never found out, so I'm extremely lucky," Daviau told CBC News.
Daviau's neighbour, Jacques Caisse, couldn't believe the mistake had gone unnoticed for so long.
"It's really weird. I'm surprised. I don't understand," he said.
Hydro-Québec switched Daviau's power back on as soon as it realized the mistake.
The power utility apologized, but also said the error was not its fault.
The mistake was apparently made by an electrician, who accidentally got the neighbours' addresses backwards when labelling the hydro meters. According to Hydro-Québec, the electrician provided them with the wrong information.
A Hydro-Québec spokesperson told CBC News that the utility will make sure the balances are corrected, and Daviau and Caisse will be credited or billed for any differences.
Hoping for a less expensive bill
Daviau thinks there's a good chance she'll get some cash back, since her apartment is smaller than Caisse's.
"He's taking a lot more electricity than I am. I live alone, I don't consume that much electricity," she said.
But Caisse thinks his bill will probably end up being more or less the same.
"I don't think there will be an increase, because I think I already pay quite a bit," he said.
Either way, Daviau said she's lucky she found out about the mix-up.
She's hoping her story will be a cautionary tale and she's hoping others who live in apartments and divided homes will double-check before they end up in a situation like hers.
How to make sure you're paying for your own Hydro:
Follow these steps from Hydro-Québec to make sure you're not paying for someone else's electricity.
- Turn off your main breaker.
- Check the digital screen of the power meter to see if the scrolling bar is still animated.
- It should not be animated. The bar is only animated when it's recording power consumption.
- If the Hydro meter is not accurate, call Hydro-Québec customer service to ask for an inspection.