“They told me what was going on, I couldn't believe it” Barbara Arnold told us.
In September, doctors told the 75 year old she needed her second leg amputated and that wasn't the worst part. Her daughter Linda Foiles told News 4 when her mother “went in for the surgery to be done she had a heart attack”.
Her children say Barbara was in the hospital from September until after Thanksgiving.
For decades, she paid her electric bill on time, but her failing health put her behind.
So Ameren Illinois added a $159 charge per month for three months to her bill.
According to Ameren Illinois, the charge was automatically assessed by a computer system that tracks customers who are in danger of delinquency.
An Ameren Illinois spokesperson says it's actually a deposit - in Barbara's case it would be spread out over three bills totaling $480; just in case she did not pay her bill in the future.
Her children say they pleaded with the utility, but got nowhere.
“The lady from Ameren, all she could tell me was sorry but this is how it goes” said Foiles.
So News 4’s Chris Nagus picked up the phone and called Ameren Illinois.
Immediately, a public relations representative got in touch with the right people.
They waived one of Barbara's $159 fees, and got a credit for the rest from a non-profit: Warm Neighbors Cool Friends, a group that helps low income customers.
Barbara's family credited News 4 for getting the deposit waived.
After all, Barbara insists she would have paid on time, as she has in the past, but it was the last thing on her mind as doctors removed her leg.
“I've been a customer for so long, I just couldn't believe it” said Barbara.