KELOWNA – A world-famous photographer who lives part time in Ellison says Fortis B.C. has overbilled him more than $7,000 for a house that burned to the ground in January.
Gary Fong, the inventor of the Lightsphere, lives in LA most of the year. On January 11 his luxury cabin near Kelowna burned down yet he says his bills for the property have actually gone up. This month he received one for $4,500 for the billing period between May 19 to July 17.
“This is really blatant,” he says. “The house isn’t even there so it defies any type of reasoning.”
Fong tried contacting Fortis several times but each time their response has been the same.
“They say too bad, so sad. Pay your bill or we’ll shut off your power,” he says. “There’s no way to dispute this because they have a monopoly.”
Fong says he’s been complaining to Fortis for years since he’d routinely get bills of roughly $1,800 every two months, whether he is living in the Kelowna area house or not.
“We’d turn off the air conditioning and the lights, but the bills would come in even higher than when we’re there,” he says. “I was just too busy to deal with it before, but when we got the latest bill for $4,500, not only was there no power going to the panel, there hasn’t been anybody on the property in months.”
Fong, who has an estimated net worth of around $20 million, admits he could pay the bill, but decided to go public with the overcharges to help others.
“$1,800 is the mortgage for a house,” he says. “I’m doing this for all the people who can’t prove (this is happening). They suspect it, they’re going broke, they can’t feed their kids, but they can’t prove they’re being overcharged. They need proof and I think this is the smoking gun."
“I’m from the United States and there you can’t bill for something you didn’t use or it’s fraud and it’s a big deal,” he says. “A mechanic can’t bill for a muffler they didn’t install. This bill says we used this many kilowatt hours, but there’s no house.”
Fortis spokesperson Nicole Bogdanovich will only say the utility is currently investigating the issue.
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