Is there a legal or industry standard for the definition of a "returned" transaction?
I recently had my Empire District electric bill auto-payment declined, and the electric company charged me a $20 "returned check" fee. The state utility regulator allows them to charge a fee for "returned" transactions, but the regulations do not mention anything about a declined transaction.
As you know, a transaction can be declined for a variety of reasons- I have had utility bill auto-payments declined because my banks systems were down for maintenance when the charge was attempted, because the bank marked it as possible fraud, or because I got a new card and the transaction went through before I could update it, and because I didn't have enough funds at the time of the transaction... never before has an electric utility (or anyone else) ever charged me a fee because of this- I usually get an email or, my old electric coop would usually call me to let me know- I would correct the issue and the everything was good.
I have called and complained, to no avail, to Empire, and I have now filed an informal complain with the Missouri Public Service Commission. If the informal complaint does not produce results, I will have to file a formal complaint- It would be great if you could point me to sources, in case this goes to a formal hearing before the commission, that define the difference between a declined and a returned transaction. My google-fu seems to be failing me, so I place my hope for justice in you! :) Thanks.
edit: I believe it was setup as an ACH transaction. The transaction was declined by my bank. It was not a check.