The Water Department – Guest Post

November 11, 2009 by admncc

Here at The Constant Complainer, in addition to my own posts, readers can submit Guest Posts about topics they’d like to complaint about.  I’d like to welcome Steve back with the below-Guest Post.  His complaint is his local water department.  Over the years I’ve had my share of utility company complaints, so I was more than happy to publish this post.  Enjoy and without further adieu, here’s Steve…

We have been battling with the Water Department for over a year now and it finally came to a head this week.  The water department has been estimating our water bill for 3 years now (it was last read in Nov. 2006) and we wanted an actual reading of our water meter because we believe that they have been over billing us for our water usage.  My wife and I live in a small cottage which has only one bathroom and we do not have an automatic dishwasher, I don’t water our lawn because our house is on a river lot and the trees and lawn get plenty of water from the river.  This is the icing on the cake; our “estimated water bill” went from under $40 for three months to over $60 on the last bill.  I called them again and asked them, “What was the reason for the big increase, did we all of a sudden start using twice as much water as we used to?”  I never did get an answer on that question.

We have been calling the Water Department and trying to get someone to come out and read the water meter for over a year now.  We talk to the customer service reps, who transfer us to the meter reading department where no one ever answers the phone – you can only leave a message.  We call back and ask to speak to a supervisor and they promise that someone will call us back, of course they never do.  We finally were able to speak to a supervisor who scheduled someone to come out and read the meter last month.  We explained that we wanted the meter reader to come to our door before they read the meter so we could show them where the meter is and verify the meter reading.  Our water meter isn’t in front of our house, it is on a side street, where the water line runs from the side street through our neighbors back yard and then up to the back of our house into the basement.  Of course, my wife waited all day for the meter reader to show up, you guessed it, they never did.

So, much to my surprise, I get a letter from the water department saying our water bill is past due.  I hit the ceiling!  I called them and yelled at the poor customer service rep – I have to say, she was the nicest person that any of the water department people have ever been and apologized once she heard about the history of our account.  She says that there was a note on our account that we had a bad water meter and that it needed to be replaced, and that is why they kept only giving us an estimated water bill.  I hit the ceiling again and said to her, “we have had a bad water meter for three years and you haven’t sent anyone out to replace or fix it in all that time?”  The customer service rep kept apologizing and promised us that they would send someone out to take a look at the water meter to assess the situation – oh, and that they would call us first and that the meter reader would come to our house and have us go with them when they would do this.  She also told us that she would send a note to her supervisor and the billing department so they could adjust our account.

Well, we are still are waiting for the phone call to tell us that someone is coming out to read/replace/fix the water meter, I am not holding my breath.  Looks like I will be calling them again next week.

***This portion was inserted by The Constant Complainer.  It’s Veteran’s Day!  Thank you to all of our nation’s soldiers.

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  1. Sugar says:

    Steve, that sucks! I had a similar situation with the Verizon company where I was calling everyday,(only for 5 days, but still) to get a matter resolved on our land-line. Finally, after leaving 8 messages, speaking with 6 supervisors, and being placed on hold for 3.5 hours, the matter was resolved-until I received my cell phone bill and all that time used resolving my land-line caused me to go over my minutes. Who knew all that time costed me over $250.00, LOL, more than the origional problem.

  2. The Constant Complainer says:

    Steve, this was an excellent post.

    I actually had this same situation happen with my gas meter. They kept showing up to read it when my wife and I were at work. So I’d get the note that I missed them, read my own meter and call it in. But after 15 months, I started to wonder if I was overpaying on the estimated usage.

    Then someone at work told me about an obscure law in Ohio that says that if you’re gas meter is not read every 12 months in person, that the gas company is responsible for 100% of your bill after the 12th month.

    I have never found that law in writing, but it must be true, because when I called the gas company and cited it, they were pretty quick to work around my schedule and get a field technician to the house.

    The good news – they wrote off three months worth of gas usage. The bad news – I was using more than I thought and I owed $1,000 more than my estimated usage. Ouch.

    But see if that law applies to water meter usage!!!

  3. Sounds like a bad Seinfeld episode. Interesting what the last commenter wrote about his gas meter. Maybe a little threatening is in order.

  4. YIKES! That is awful service and it’s so frustrating to be controlled by our utility companies. It’s not like you can do without water!

  5. TallElf says:

    I can totally understand. I had an estimated electric bill, and they told me that they would send a meeter reader again for about 3 months. When they finally sent them I had almost an 80$ credit to the bill, as the previous home owners must have had EVERYTHING on. My wife stays home all day and we have quite a few electronic gadgets that are plugged in and we rarely break 30$. I swear that these companies have it out for themselves. I wonder how they stay in business. Don’t even get me started over the phone company. They told me they would be out to do the work. After my wife called an complained several times they credited us on that account as well. (that is the short version).

  6. MichaelR says:

    That really sucks Steve. And again thats for 3 years right? Maybe I can tolerate 3 months but thats about it.

  7. MeterDistributor says:

    I don’t know what state you are in, but some states do have a public utility commission or some similar government organization that oversees these type of things. If not, then the utility probably has a board of directors who’s meeting you should attend with our story. Three years goes way beyond patience in my book.

    If they won’t change your meter, you could put your own private meter in our home to verify your actual usage. This would give you evidence of their overestimating that may later become useful. Take monthly photos of the register to prove your real usage if needed.

  8. Jacki says:

    I, too, cannot stand “estimated” bills.

    My mother had trouble with their utility bill when they bought their house 12 years ago. The previous owners apparently did not believe in conserving gas, electric, or water, because my mom was shocked at their bills. After calling and finding out that they were estimating usage based on past usage, my mom told them that she would start estimating her payments.

    So they got someone out to actually read their meters until a baseline could be established for their “estimated” bills.

  9. Sorry to hear about your trouble with that 🙁 I found you really have to watch your bills. One day I looked at my electric bill and saw $92.00 in ‘other charges’ I called up and asked what the ‘other charges’ were and no one could seem to tell me so I demanded they take it off which they did. We also had to call consistently month after month on our cell phone bill (Sprint) for 11 months and get $80 taken off which was wrongly added on for text messaging when we had unlimited text messaging included into the monthly price. We don’t even want to get started on Time Warner and their double billing policy.

  10. Dan says:

    A friend of mine had a similar issue happen. He sued the water department in small claims court and they resolved it very quickly. I love small claims court!

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