The Gateway JEA branch is the last to close. Customers will have to pay bills at alternate locations.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The last JEA branch is now officially closed and it has some customers concerned about paying their light bill at alternate locations.
It was a moment of confusion for many JEA customers trying to pay their bills at the Gateway branch. Some carrying large amounts of cash and hoping to pay their bills found a list of alternate payment locations instead.
"I'm concerned that it's going to be an inconvenience for a lot of people, along with myself and seniors coming to pay their bills in this area. The older people don't pay their bills online of course. They try to pay it in cash here at the office," said James Calvin, a concerned customer.
JEA began closing branches over a year ago as a savings measure. They say payment transactions at third party locations like Winn-Dixie or neighborhood convenience stores have gradually increased over two years and in December of 2012, 80 percent of all transactions were made outside of JEA branches. But residents who paid at the branches, like 56-year-old Calvin, say it's going to be difficult for many, including the elderly, to find new locations.
"The neuropathy and the other ailments and pains you go through trying to get from point A to point B, makes it very difficult and coming here to Gateway center, it's only about 4 or 5 miles from my home, it makes it a little bit more convenient for me personally. A lot of people are in worse shape than I'm in and they are having to come in and pay their bills."
Calvin also said pushing people to use convenience stores to pay JEA poses a threat for more crime. Last Friday, a local man was robbed of his rent and light money on his way to a convenience store to pay JEA.
"They know people are going to get money the first part of the month, they are going to sit outside a Winn-Dixie or a convenience store and they are going to wait to prey on seniors," said Calvin.
Customers can still pay their bill online, over the phone, or at the Downtown headquarters.
Click here to find a payment center near you.
First Coast News