We, here at JET24, are ready to get to the bottom of your questions. Today's question comes from a viewer asking about utility bills: how come they are mailed out of town? And, why don't we keep this business here, in Erie? Well, it all comes down to efficiency and cost.
If you are an Erie Water Works customer, you may have noticed your return address says 'Erie Water Works,' but a PO Box in Massachusetts is the address. Paul Vojtek, the CEO of Erie Water Works says they get about 1,000 to 1,500 payments a day in the office.
The volume of bills they have to handle would be a great expense to do in-house, plus there are no local processing centers. Vojtek says, "to process that many payments here, it would be probably one or two extra employees that we would have to add in addition to vacation and sick time, the lockbox is never off, it's always on".
Erie Water Works utilizes a lockbox through Erie Bank. The bank then uses a third party processing center in Massachusetts, both companies saving money and then passing the savings on to you. Dave Zimmer, President at Erie Bank, says, "it's cheaper for us to send it to a third party processor; that way, we can basically offer higher deposit rates and lower loan rates for our customers".
Vojtek adds, "by utilizing things like the lockbox, and some of these electronic payment methods, we've been able to keep the process and handling fees low, which then, in effect, keeps our customer rates down".
Zimmer says, "it's really a cost issue... certainly, it could be done if it made sense but again, of course, we are in a global economy and you want to be as efficient as you can with a company's expenses and dollars".
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