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CPS Energy apologizes to disabled customer

Man told only wheelchair-bound customers could use handicapped window

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SAN ANTONIO – Without the trach tube that helped him breathe, Edward Draeger had his portable oxygen tank with him at the CPS Energy Service Center on Southwest Military.

Yet when he tried to pay his bill at the handicapped window, Draeger said a security guard Tuesday told him, "No, that's just for people in wheelchairs. They're the only ones who are disabled."

"That is not our policy," said Christine Patmon, spokeswoman for CPS Energy.

Patmon said that should not have happened.

"Obviously, we owe him an apology and we're going to apologize to him personally," Patmon said.

Draeger said he'd never encountered that situation at any CPS Energy Service Center. He said after paying his bills, he and his caregiver realized that payment was still pending, so they wanted to make the payment in person.

Unable to walk without a cane, Draeger said he has multiple health problems.

"I'm disabled. I can't be standing in line," Draeger said.

Patmon said, "Our normal, standard procedure on any given day is for our handicapped customers to have priority and they're taken to the first available window."

She said the same applies to caregivers, but Draeger said his assistant had to stand in line with everyone else. He said when he and another disabled customer spoke up to complain, someone with CPS Energy told them, "You all need to be quiet or we're going to call (police)."

Patmon said, "This is a small center and so if things get out of hand, they get out of hand really rapidly."

But Draeger said it never did.

"There was nothing of that nature. We were just letting them know what was on our minds," Draeger said.

Patmon said she would be checking with staff at all CPS Energy Service Centers to make certain they're aware of how disabled customers should be treated.

Draeger said federal ADA regulations through the Americans With Disabilities Act mandates they be given the same opportunities as everyone else.