San Diego Woman Discovers She Had Been Paying for Her Entire Apartment Building’s Power for 2 Years

By: Georgia | Published: Mar 15, 2024

Brooke Patterson shared a shocking revelation on TikTok that captivated over 5 million viewers. She discovered that, for more than two years, she had been paying the utility bills for her entire apartment complex, not just her own unit.

This situation came to light only after she experienced a power outage and began questioning her unusually high utility expenses.

Detailed Investigation Triggered by Power Outage

Brooke explained in her video that when a power outage occurred at her apartment, she and her roommate embarked on a thorough investigation to identify the cause.

A person's hand is inserting a white electrical plug into a wall outlet

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After ruling out city-wide outages and checking with neighbors, they contacted their landlord, only to add to the confusion.


Account Mix-Up Exposed

During her call to the San Diego power company, Brooke discovered a baffling error: her payments were not being credited to her account but to the master meter of the building.

Two electric transmission towers rise prominently against a clear blue sky, with multiple power lines stretching across the scene

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This mix-up explained why her unit’s power was shut off, despite her consistent payments. The revelation that the account was still under her ex-boyfriend’s name added complexity to the situation, shedding light on the consequences of unresolved financial ties.

Financial Implications of the Billing Error

The utility company’s mistake had significant financial implications for Brooke, who had been diligently paying her bills, unaware that her money was covering the entire building’s utilities.

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This incident illustrates the need for consumers to closely monitor their utility bills and question any discrepancies, especially in situations where account responsibilities are shared or transferred.

The Role of Neighbors in Uncovering the Truth

Brooke’s engagement with her neighbors during the power outage played a pivotal role in bringing the utility billing error to light.

A modern multi-story apartment building occupies the frame with distinct red and grey exterior accents and balconies

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Her conversations about the power situation and comparison of utility bills among neighbors were instrumental in identifying that her payments were abnormally high.

Analyzing Utility Costs in High-Cost Living Areas

The cost of utilities in high-priced cities like San Diego can be deceiving, potentially masking billing errors like the one Brooke experienced.

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Her assumption that $300–$400 monthly bills were normal for her area is an example of the challenges residents face in discerning whether their utility expenses are reasonable.


Ex-Partner's Role in the Billing Confusion

The discovery that Brooke’s ex-boyfriend had not canceled the service after moving out was a crucial element in the billing confusion.

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She said, “Here’s where it gets weirder: our names were nowhere to be found on the account. That’s when it hit us: my ex-boyfriend. My roommate asks, ‘Is the account under [ex’s name]?’ The rep says, ‘Yep.’ Second plot twist: turns out, my ex never canceled the old account, and the power company put me on the wrong meter — the master meter for the whole complex. So, I’ve been footing the bill for the entire building since December 2021 (when my ex moved out).”


The Ex-Boyfriend Saga: Communication Breakdown and Its Repercussions

Brooke’s struggles extended beyond the utility bills into other areas of her post-breakup life, painting a picture of her ex-boyfriend’s complete withdrawal from shared responsibilities.

Multiple meter units are mounted on a textured brown wall in a symmetrical pattern. Each meter is connected to a series of pipes and has a number written on it

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“Post-breakup, he went radio silent — ghosting me AND our landlord every time we tried to hit him up about bills, lease stuff, etc.,” Brooke recounted.


Challenges and a Plea for Resolution

Even two years after the breakup, Brooke continues to face the lingering effects of their previously entwined lives. The unresolved issues have left her dealing with unwanted mail and the aftermath of their shared lease and utilities.

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Despite these challenges, Brooke has not informed her ex about the utility billing fiasco.


Steps Toward Resolution and Reimbursement

Upon uncovering the billing error, the utility company began the necessary procedures to correct the account discrepancies and process Brooke’s reimbursement.

The scene captures a power plant at dusk, with a large tower looming. In the foreground is a railway crossing

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This action represents a significant step toward rectifying the financial injustice she endured, demonstrating the utility company’s role in addressing such errors.


Anticipated Difficulties With Verification

Brooke expressed concerns about potential obstacles in the reimbursement process, particularly due to her ex-partner’s previous lack of responsiveness.

A woman dressed in a white shirt is engaged in a conversation on her smartphone

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Verifying the accurate billing details and establishing the rightful payee involves coordination with multiple parties, including the landlord and possibly her ex-partner, who has been uncommunicative.


Community Encouragement to Seek Legal Assistance

The complexity and potential financial impact of Brooke’s situation have led to a strong response from the TikTok community, urging her to take legal action.

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Commenters emphasized the importance of legal intervention, with one stating, “Lawyer up to start collecting records of what you paid.” Another user, claiming expertise in utilities, reinforced this advice, saying, “I would still lawyer up. The cost of money you should get back will be worth getting one.”