A $1,400 water bill raises questions (October 2016)

High bills
Case Number 2016/17214
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Mr T contacted EWOV dissatisfied with his water corporation’s investigation into the cause of his high water bill. He had recently received a three month water bill for about $1,400, which was much more than his average bill of about $300 to $400 a quarter. He contacted the water corporation to query the bill and it undertook an investigation into a possible cause. The water corporation:

  • Completed a water meter test at no charge to the customer and found the meter to be working correctly.
  • Reviewed the billing of his account and found it to be accurate and based on actual water meter readings.
  • Advised him to engage a plumber to inspect his property for water leaks.
  • Sent him a High Unexplained Leak Allowance form to complete and return, should his plumber find any previously undetected leaks.

On this advice, Mr T engaged a plumber, who could not find a water leak at the property. Mr T paid the plumber’s fee of $134.

Based on the water corporation’s investigation and the plumber’s findings, Mr T was advised that the high bill correctly represented the water used at the property and was payable. However, the customer contacted EWOV and an Investigation was raised due to the complexities involved.

The Investigation

EWOV investigated the billing of Mr T’s account by reviewing all bills issued, tariffs, phone records, meter reads and the meter test results. We found that the billing was correct and based on accurate meter reads. The meter test found that the meter was very slightly under-recording Mr T’s water use, but remained within the required Australian Standards.

Also, ongoing meter reads showed that water use at the property had substantially reduced, to be in line with previous usage. 

EWOV found that the large bill was particularly unusual and well outside Mr T’s usual household consumption patterns, however, in the absence of an undetected water leak, it would appear to be accurate.

The Outcome

To resolve the complaint, the water corporation offered to credit Mr T’s account with $713.00, as a goodwill gesture for the unexplained large bill – an amount higher than what would have been provided by the water corporation’s High Unexplained Leak Allowance policy. This amount covered just over half of the high bill and reduced the account balance to $600. Mr T agreed to pay this amount immediately and was provided with a direct contact at the water corporation should he have any further queries.

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