A Texas man who had $17,000 charged to his credit card by a wholesale electricity company during last week's storms may get his money back -- thanks to GoFundMe.
Over 4 million people were without power and clean water in Texas for 5 days last week.
To compound their troubles, wholesale electricity provider Griddy began emptying customers' bank accounts before they had even received invoices.
63-year-old Army veteran Scott Willoughby, who lives on social security payments, lost his life savings when Griddy charged $16,752 to his credit card for 7 days' worth of service.
"My savings is gone," the Dallas resident told the New York Times. "There's nothing I can do about it, but it's broken me."
A GoFundMe account created by Willoughby raised over $12,000 as of Tuesday.
Willoughby wrote in the summary:
"[My payment] went on my credit card and once paid, will almost wipe out my savings and my brother's came straight out of his bank account causing an overdraft. Any and all help is appreciated. Blessings on all!"
Willoughby never lost power during the winter storm. He and other customers were warned by Griddy to change providers before the storm hit. But most electricity providers in the state weren't taking on new customers.
Other customers discovered that Griddy had raided their bank accounts and left them nearly penniless.
Ty Williams had nearly $17,000 deducted from his bank account by Griddy. His family home never lost power during the storm.
Williams told Fox 4 News he did everything he could to conserve energy for those 7 days. "I unplugged refrigerators, I turned off everything. I turned off all the lights. We literally tried to stay in one room and use our gas heaters."
Still, their bill skyrocketed to nearly $17,000 for 7 days' usage. Griddy told Williams the billing was automated and based on estimated usage. The company said it would check the system for errors and make adjustments.
Chambers County resident Lisa Khoury filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Griddy for "unlawful price gouging" during the winter storm.
Khoury, whose average bill is between $200 and $250, said her bill for Feb. 13 through Feb. 19 came to $9,340.
She said Griddy began making withdrawals from her bank account daily.
Khoury said she was only without power for one day and was careful to limit usage out of fear of a high bill.
Some Griddy customers were charged as high as $400 per kilowatt-hour. For those customers, Griddy offered to set up payment arrangements.