A customer disputes a water bill that seems too high (April 2018)

High bills
Case Number 2018/2233
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Mr G, who had been away from his home for six weeks, was surprised when he received a water bill for $312 – only slightly less than his usual bills of around $320. Mr G felt that the bill was too high, but when he contacted his water company about his concerns, it said that the meter reading and bill were correct. Dissatisfied, Mr G contacted EWOV, asking that his bill be reduced by half.

We raised an Assisted Referral, and in response, the company contacted Mr G and arranged for his water meter to be tested. The water company covered the cost of the test, which found that the meter was working correctly. The company maintained that the bill had been correct, but offered to reduce it to $200 in recognition of customer service issues. Still dissatisfied, Mr G recontacted EWOV, asking that his bill be reduced to $120. We began an Investigation of the complaint.

The Investigation

The water company provided EWOV with Mr G’s water bill and account history. Reviewing this information, our conciliator noted that Mr G’s disputed bill did show that his usage for the same period in previous years has been higher. In combination with the meter test results, this indicated that the bill was correct.

The conciliator also noted that even if Mr G had not used any water at all during the period, he would still be liable for fixed charges, which accounted for $146.66 of his bill. Therefore, Mr G’s request that his bill be reduced to $120 was not reasonable. The conciliator contacted Mr G to explain the findings of the billing review.

The Outcome

With this new explanation of his billing, Mr G accepted the bill and his company’s initial offer to reduce it to $200. As Mr G had already made a payment of $120 – the amount he had not been disputing – he agreed to pay the $80 remaining on his account after the credit was applied. Mr G was satisfied and the case was closed.

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