Tony’s* water bill was more than $3,000. The problem was he didn’t know there was a leak or where his meter was.
In July, Tony got a water bill for $3,165.00 after buying his property late the previous year. He didn’t know there was a leak until his neighbour told him about excess water in their garden. On 2 August, his water company told him about his high water usage and that he should have been monitoring his usage. Tony said he couldn’t do this because he didn’t know where the meter was. He needed to get a plumber to find it - it was buried underground.
The water company offered to take more than $2,500 off the affected bills, but Tony was not satisfied. He contacted EWOV and we raised a case. He wanted the company to reduce the high bill so it was the same as his previous bills. Because the case was complex, we upgraded it to an Investigation. This means we review all relevant information and work with the customer and the company to reach a fair and reasonable outcome.
The water company said it couldn’t access Tony’s meter because of a locked gate. It said it left a card and sent Tony an SMS asking for self-reads, but didn’t get any readings from him. It offered a discount of more than a 50% reduction towards Tony’s usage charges. It said this is well above industry guidelines, where the maximum waiver for undetected leaks is $1,000. The water company said it told Tony about high water readings as a courtesy, and is not required to do so. It offered to replace the current water meter with a remote meter at no cost to Tony, which would stop future estimated readings.
Tony was not satisfied with this and said he didn’t notice his bills were estimated. He said he asked the water company to show him where the meter was so he could give it readings. In response, it said Tony’s bills were clearly marked “estimated”. It explained customers are responsible for finding the meter after moving into a new property.
The water company increased its initial offer of more than $2,500 by a further of $301.57. This reduced Tony’s debt to $746.88, due 30 November. It apologised for any inconvenience caused. Tony was satisfied with the outcome and we closed the case.
Case number: 2017/17114
*Names have been changed