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Marcellus
05-03-2005, 10:08 AM
I recieved a water bill for $2800 yesterday. I think there is some mistake with a few decimal points right so I call the city (thats who handles our water here).
Come to find out, the dillhole who reads the meters has been estimating my bill for the last 6.5 years because he was scared of my dog. Well he didn't bother to inform anyone of this including me. My dog died a few months ago and I have since removed the fence form my yard. Well I guess they decide to do a real reading and now say I have been underbilled $2800.

The lady I talked to sounded like she didn't think I would have to pay that ammount but she needed to talk to the city attorney to see how to handle it. I have a bad feeling I am about to get bent over.

It would be different if they would have complained to me about my dog at some point. The gas and electric company had no issues reading my meter.
:banghead:

Rain Man
05-03-2005, 10:10 AM
Yikes.

I don't want to scare you, but there was an identical story on the news here about a year ago (sans the dog - just a lazy meter reader, apparently). The city forced the woman to pay.

Saulbadguy
05-03-2005, 10:10 AM
I wouldn't pay it...but

Have you received a water bill in the last 6.5 years? If yes, was it low? high? normal?

Donger
05-03-2005, 10:10 AM
I recieved a water bill for $2800 yesterday. I think there is some mistake with a few decimal points right so I call the city (thats who handles our water here).
Come to find out, the dillhole who reads the meters has been estimating my bill for the last 6.5 years because he was scared of my dog. Well he didn't bother to inform anyone of this including me. My dog died a few months ago and I have since removed the fence form my yard. Well I guess they decide to do a real reading and now say I have been underbilled $2800.

The lady I talked to sounded like she didn't think I would have to pay that ammount but she needed to talk to the city attorney to see how to handle it. I have a bad feeling I am about to get bent over.

It would be different if they would have complained to me about my dog at some point. The gas and electric company had no issues reading my meter.
:banghead:

There's no way in Denver that I'd pay that bill.

Phobia
05-03-2005, 10:16 AM
Sorry to hear about your dog. Let this be a lesson to you. Replace your dead pets asap.

yunghungwell
05-03-2005, 10:24 AM
http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00008NFL0.01-A1HH8X1DSLCZNP._SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Amnorix
05-03-2005, 10:26 AM
Yeah, you're probably hosed, but pitching a screaming fit with someone there might help them reduce the bill.

jynni
05-03-2005, 10:45 AM
Maybe it might be a good idea to put in a call to one of those "Call For Action" type thingys the local news shows are always doing. They love to do stuff along these lines.

ROYC75
05-03-2005, 10:57 AM
Chances are you are hosed on this one.....Your only hope is "The inability of the meter reader to do his job has caused a finacial burden on you to pay this" .

I would offer to pay them the negative amount per month $ 35.89 for 6.5 years or offer them $ 1400.00 up front ( providing you have it ) cash buy out.

C-Mac
05-03-2005, 11:00 AM
Maybe it might be a good idea to put in a call to one of those "Call For Action" type thingys the local news shows are always doing. They love to do stuff along these lines.

Contacting the media is a good idea.
:thumb:

Phobia
05-03-2005, 11:04 AM
Why would the media care? Dude accepted goods from the city and through no fault of their own had been misbilling He owes the money. It's a legitimate bill. I'm sure they'd be willing to work out a payment arrangement.

Skip Towne
05-03-2005, 11:04 AM
I assume you have been paying the estimated bill all these years. If what you have been paying is in line with what neighbors pay, I wouldn't give them a damn thing. Chances are the meter has been changed in the last 7 years and their records are all screwed up. I had it happen.

C-Mac
05-03-2005, 11:17 AM
Why would the media care? Dude accepted goods from the city and through no fault of their own had been misbilling He owes the money. It's a legitimate bill. I'm sure they'd be willing to work out a payment arrangement.

Because the media thrives on stuff like that?
They would also help with a "sympathy case" if they interview the city also, for the viewers could easily imagine themslves in the same shoes.

Fire Me Boy!
05-03-2005, 11:24 AM
Why would the media care? Dude accepted goods from the city and through no fault of their own had been misbilling He owes the money. It's a legitimate bill. I'm sure they'd be willing to work out a payment arrangement.
Working for the media, let me say this: because we LOVE shit like this. Help out the everyman and screw the city all in one swoop. Makes for great TV.

wilas101
05-03-2005, 11:49 AM
You don't happen to live in Marceline, MO do you? That crap happens here ALL THE TIME.

A few years ago literally half the town got bills that had been estimated for months on end. Some people were in the same boat as you with well over 1000 bucks added. The downside here is the fact that the city handles both water and electricity so they had everyone by the short hairs.

I really want the meter reader job here in town. I could spend even more time on the planet from what I've seen. :)


hm... just saw the "Kansas" below your avatar pic. Guess that answered question 1.

Regardless, you got my sympathy. Thats bullsh*t.

Kyle401
05-03-2005, 11:58 AM
Looks like the experts agree. You need to contact the media with your story and use public opinion to influence the City to reduce your bill.

Also you may want to contact a lawyer. I would think that the City's negligence in their responsibility to furnish you with an accurate water bill could absolve you of financial responsibility. The City employed the meter reader, and maintains an easement on your property to access the water meter. Therefore, I don't see what excuse they have for not providing a bill with an accurate total, dog notwithstanding. Had they informed you that they were unable to access your meter, it would be a whole different ball game, but I don't see how they are holding any of the cards here.

They are basing their entire case on a meter reading that is over 6 years old? Seems like a good lawyer could poke holes in that pretty easy.

cmh6476
05-03-2005, 12:00 PM
hire an attorney.

I'm sure there are a few here...

C-Mac
05-03-2005, 12:02 PM
Working for the media, let me say this: because we LOVE shit like this. Help out the everyman and screw the city all in one swoop. Makes for great TV.

:thumb:

Bwana
05-03-2005, 12:05 PM
Raise hell! Call the radio and TV stations as well as the papers in the area and tell them your story. I fthat doesn't put enough heat on them to drop it, hire a lawyer to at least write a letter. If that doesn't work, hire me to pay them a visit. :)

Kyle401
05-03-2005, 12:07 PM
Oh, and to avoid paying a consultation fee if there really isn't much you can do, I would contact your state AGO. They may have some idea of how these situations have been handled in the past. They should be able to tell you what you should do.

Kyle401
05-03-2005, 12:08 PM
Raise hell! Call the radio and TV stations as well as the papers in the area and tell them your story. I fthat doesn't put enough heat on them to drop it, hire a lawyer to at least write a letter. If that doesn't work, hire me to pay them a visit. :)
I say skip the rest and go straight to this! ROFL

Fire Me Boy!
05-03-2005, 12:11 PM
Don't forget to write at least ONE letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Try and get AS MUCH media coverage as possible.

Bob Dole
05-03-2005, 12:12 PM
Bob Dole's average monthly water bill is only about $7 higher than what they are saying you've underpaid each month.

What have you been paying monthly?

Skip Towne
05-03-2005, 12:21 PM
Raise hell! Call the radio and TV stations as well as the papers in the area and tell them your story. I fthat doesn't put enough heat on them to drop it, hire a lawyer to at least write a letter. If that doesn't work, hire me to pay them a visit. :)
You will need to submit your bid just like the rest of us.

Marcellus
05-03-2005, 06:02 PM
My water bill has been about $46 a month. Going off what they say I owe, it's another $37 a month I owe them. Thats more than double the water rate because the trash service is included in the $46.($13)

I also think there is an inflated rate after usgae over a certain ammount per month wich is being ballooned into this months bill.

I don't think their "adjustment" number is accurate.

I had a coworker point out that I have no idea of knowing when the last time my meter was actually read. Maybe before I bought the house. I wonder if I ask them for proof of the last actual reading if they can give that to me. If not I am going to try to claim they have no proof their numbers are accurate.

Probably won't work. :cuss:

PastorMikH
05-03-2005, 06:13 PM
Something else, probably won't work, but worth considering just the same. Over the extended period that the meter wasn't read, how much have the water rates gone up? Are they charging you today's rate for all of the water instead of averaging out usage from cheaper rates?


Also, I'd request the meter to be tested. The local city here has had water problems and one of the things they are looking at is changing out meters every 10 years because they say that they are starting to give inaccurate usage readings at that age. Who knows, if they test the meter and it shows that it is reading more than the actual water flow, you might be able to talk them into a discount.

Rain Man
05-03-2005, 06:16 PM
Why would the media care? Dude accepted goods from the city and through no fault of their own had been misbilling He owes the money. It's a legitimate bill. I'm sure they'd be willing to work out a payment arrangement.

I'd argue that I would've been actively conserving if my water bills were that high. Since they weren't, I didn't. Therefore, the City deceived me via incompetence.

This is the equivalent of getting a great deal on a Corvette lease for $99 a month. Five years later, can the dealer come back and say, "I made a mistake. Your lease amount is $599 per month. You owe me $30,000."? Don't think so, vicious dog or not.

jspchief
05-03-2005, 06:21 PM
I'd say you owe the money (assuming the rates and such are accurate), but you should be given an equal amount of time to pay it pack. For instance, if they've been estimating your bill for the last 5 years, you should get five years to pay it back.

One question? Didn't you find it odd that you were using the exact same amount of water every single month for the last 5+ years?

That being said, I'd say the water company has some culpability for letting this go on as long as it has.

ChiefsFire
05-03-2005, 07:27 PM
that is extremely high..i guess...

no water leaks right???

no unwanted fountains appearing in ur yard??

lol

C-Mac
05-03-2005, 07:30 PM
My water bill has been about $46 a month. Going off what they say I owe, it's another $37 a month I owe them. Thats more than double the water rate because the trash service is included in the $46.($13)

I also think there is an inflated rate after usgae over a certain ammount per month wich is being ballooned into this months bill.

I don't think their "adjustment" number is accurate.

I had a coworker point out that I have no idea of knowing when the last time my meter was actually read. Maybe before I bought the house. I wonder if I ask them for proof of the last actual reading if they can give that to me. If not I am going to try to claim they have no proof their numbers are accurate.

Probably won't work. :cuss:

Thats averages $83 per month for water and trash?
Good lord, do you have a swimming pool that you empty and fill every couple of weeks?
Also you could have a slow leak but had know way of knowing unless it perked up from the ground.
I still say call the media and a lawyer, it was there employees that were the incompetent ones that didnt read the meter.
Its like going to an Exxon station and buying some gas for your car and getting a call a year later from Exxon saying that the attendant had set the pumps wrong and they need $20 more.
:shake:

Phobia
05-03-2005, 07:32 PM
I'd argue that I would've been actively conserving if my water bills were that high. Since they weren't, I didn't. Therefore, the City deceived me via incompetence.

This is the equivalent of getting a great deal on a Corvette lease for $99 a month. Five years later, can the dealer come back and say, "I made a mistake. Your lease amount is $599 per month. You owe me $30,000."? Don't think so, vicious dog or not.

Okay - okay. I'm converted.

He should have to pay that much. In fact, he should send all the savings to ChiefsPlanet.

cowboy_big_rich
05-03-2005, 08:35 PM
estimated bill deserves an estimated payment

BIG_DADDY
05-03-2005, 09:17 PM
This is scary, they have been estimating my power bill for a long, long time. Just today I let the guy back there. :(

KCWolfman
05-03-2005, 09:24 PM
The gas and electric company typically have meter readings completed by wireless transmission now. The water company doesn't have that benefit.

However, I do find it odd that your meter is fenced in. Did someone add to the home you are living in or move the fence?

KCWolfman
05-03-2005, 09:28 PM
I'd argue that I would've been actively conserving if my water bills were that high. Since they weren't, I didn't. Therefore, the City deceived me via incompetence.

This is the equivalent of getting a great deal on a Corvette lease for $99 a month. Five years later, can the dealer come back and say, "I made a mistake. Your lease amount is $599 per month. You owe me $30,000."? Don't think so, vicious dog or not.
Not really. A lawyer for the water company would state that usage is not determined solely upon an agreed total rate up front. And that the usage includes an additional 2800.00 that the client has yet to pay. It is more like a ballooned mortgage rate than an incorrect car payment. Luckily, it is a water bill and the city doesn't lose a whole heck of a lot with it. However, if there is any clause in the city billing agreement that mentions inability to read the meter (without warning to the tenant/owner) then he could be screwed.

siberian khatru
05-03-2005, 09:29 PM
Looks like the experts agree. You need to contact the media with your story and use public opinion to influence the City to reduce your bill.

Also you may want to contact a lawyer. I would think that the City's negligence in their responsibility to furnish you with an accurate water bill could absolve you of financial responsibility. The City employed the meter reader, and maintains an easement on your property to access the water meter. Therefore, I don't see what excuse they have for not providing a bill with an accurate total, dog notwithstanding. Had they informed you that they were unable to access your meter, it would be a whole different ball game, but I don't see how they are holding any of the cards here.

They are basing their entire case on a meter reading that is over 6 years old? Seems like a good lawyer could poke holes in that pretty easy.

This makes perfect sense to me. Of course, we're talking dealing with government here, so faultless logic may not apply.

KCWolfman
05-03-2005, 09:33 PM
This makes perfect sense to me. Of course, we're talking dealing with government here, so faultless logic may not apply.
Probably not. The city is the main beneficiary and the city has made the laws regarding distribution, creation, and billing of water services. I wouldn't be surprised if there is already laws on the books to cover this issue. Also note, the meter reading is not six years old, it is current. The previous billable manual reading was made six years ago and again is subject to local city laws. I would first become versed in local law before contacting the city attorney or pay a local lawyer 200.00 to review the law and have him contact the city.

KCWolfman
05-03-2005, 09:41 PM
For example,

You would be able to beat city hall in Liberty, Missouri with an attorney. Here is their law regarding the topic of meter readings:

Sec. 29-28. Meter failure, calculation of charges.
Whenever water is taken by meter measurement and by reason of a temporary defect in the meter or failure to read the meter and the monthly or period bill cannot be arrived at accurately, the collector of water rates may make the bill an average of the preceding six (6) months.

There is no mention of failure to read a meter as being the responsibility of the tenant/owner.
Also in favor in Liberty

Sec. 29-43. Testing meters.
It shall be the duty of the utilities director to cause frequent inspection of meters bi-annually. All meters shall be tested as often as may be necessary to insure their thorough repair and accurate registration. No charge shall be made for such inspection and testing. When an actual test of the meter, made at the request of the consumer, shows the same to be in order and showing correct registration, a charge of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) shall be made and collected by the director of finance.
(Ord. No. 2024, 43; Ord. No. 3422; Ord. No. 6370, 1, 6-8-92)

Since you have stated it has been 6.5 years, if you were in Liberty, your lawyer could state the city has been remiss in the testing of the meter on at least 3 separate occassions and is primarily responsible for any inaccurate or failed readings.


This is the kind of information you need to pursue prior to contacting the city attorney. I would also recommend strongly spending that 200.00 - 300.00 bucks for an attorney. It sure beats 2800.00 and he would be able to find out more than you can.

chief52
05-03-2005, 09:43 PM
No utility is allowed to estimate usage for that period of time. One year would be way out of line IMO. You would be notified the first month the meter reader could not get in and within a couple of months the reader should either get in or your utility shut off.

The utility can estimate a read, but this is way out of hand. They have an obligation to bill in a precise and prompt manner.

I work for Pacific Gas and Electric. I will ask someone what they think. This seems to be very neglectful on the utility's part...if it is all true as you state.

Skip Towne
05-03-2005, 09:43 PM
I would certainly contest their meter readings that were 6 years apart. That was entirely their fault and it deprived you of a month to month accurate account of your water usage. You could have had a leak under your house that you had no way of knowing about that you would have had with monthly readings. If they were dealing with me they would have one hell of a time collecting one dime. Their mistake, they can absorb it.

chief52
05-03-2005, 09:46 PM
I would certainly contest their meter readings that were 6 years apart. That was entirely their fault and it deprived you of a month to month accurate account of your water usage. You could have had a leak under your house that you had no way of knowing about that you would have had with monthly readings. If they were dealing with me they would have one hell of a time collecting one dime. Their mistake, they can absorb it.

Enjoy your outhouse, Skip :)

KCWolfman
05-03-2005, 09:47 PM
No utility is allowed to estimate usage for that period of time. One year would be way out of line IMO. You would be notified the first month the meter reader could not get in and within a couple of months the reader should either get in or your utility shut off.

The utility can estimate a read, but this is way out of hand. They have an obligation to bill in a precise and prompt manner.

I work for Pacific Gas and Electric. I will ask someone what they think. This seems to be very neglectful on the utility's part...if it is all true as you state.
Again, usually true if it is a major utility. However, you are comparing PAC Gas to a city held entity, a city that gets to write its own rules regarding the billing services.

siberian khatru
05-03-2005, 09:50 PM
For example,

You would be able to beat city hall in Liberty, Missouri with an attorney. Here is their law regarding the topic of meter readings:

Sec. 29-28. Meter failure, calculation of charges.
Whenever water is taken by meter measurement and by reason of a temporary defect in the meter or failure to read the meter and the monthly or period bill cannot be arrived at accurately, the collector of water rates may make the bill an average of the preceding six (6) months.

There is no mention of failure to read a meter as being the responsibility of the tenant/owner.
Also in favor in Liberty

Sec. 29-43. Testing meters.
It shall be the duty of the utilities director to cause frequent inspection of meters bi-annually. All meters shall be tested as often as may be necessary to insure their thorough repair and accurate registration. No charge shall be made for such inspection and testing. When an actual test of the meter, made at the request of the consumer, shows the same to be in order and showing correct registration, a charge of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) shall be made and collected by the director of finance.
(Ord. No. 2024, 43; Ord. No. 3422; Ord. No. 6370, 1, 6-8-92)

Since you have stated it has been 6.5 years, if you were in Liberty, your lawyer could state the city has been remiss in the testing of the meter on at least 3 separate occassions and is primarily responsible for any inaccurate or failed readings.


This is the kind of information you need to pursue prior to contacting the city attorney. I would also recommend strongly spending that 200.00 - 300.00 bucks for an attorney. It sure beats 2800.00 and he would be able to find out more than you can.


Outstanding! :thumb:

I hope Marcellus kicks their ass.

chief52
05-03-2005, 09:53 PM
Again, usually true if it is a major utility. However, you are comparing PAC Gas to a city held entity, a city that gets to write its own rules regarding the billing services.

You may be right, but it sure seems unfair. Just flat not read a meter for 6 plus years and not notify the customer??? Either the utility is clueless or there is more to the story...

Wouldn't a city owned utility still have to follow rules laid down by the State Public Utilities Commision? It may be worth the time to give them a call.

Skip Towne
05-03-2005, 09:55 PM
No utility is allowed to estimate usage for that period of time. One year would be way out of line IMO. You would be notified the first month the meter reader could not get in and within a couple of months the reader should either get in or your utility shut off.

The utility can estimate a read, but this is way out of hand. They have an obligation to bill in a precise and prompt manner.

I work for Pacific Gas and Electric. I will ask someone what they think. This seems to be very neglectful on the utility's part...if it is all true as you state.
What you say here is true for the most part. However, in Kansas, cities are allowed to sell utilities but are not regulated by the KCC as any other utility is. Just another reason not to let the city in the act as they tend to make up their own rules. Either make them subject to KCC regulations as all other utilities are or kick their incompetent asses out of the business. I've already had my go around with the city of Chanute, Ks. and I kicked their asses. They ended up paying me money. They really hated that.

PastorMikH
05-03-2005, 10:28 PM
No utility is allowed to estimate usage for that period of time. One year would be way out of line IMO. You would be notified the first month the meter reader could not get in and within a couple of months the reader should either get in or your utility shut off.



Say, that just triggered something. If they were so afraid of your dog that they wouldn't step into the yard to read your meter, then perhaps you should get a couple of pit bulls to turn loose in your backyard. That way you can just quit paying the bill altogether and the same guys that were afraid of your dog will be too afraid of the pits to step foot in your yard to turn off your service.


:)

Priestgets30TDs
05-04-2005, 03:57 AM
Isn't the statute of limitations 2 maybe 3 years in Kansas to collect a debt? Are there any Planet lawyers out there? I'm sure they could poke holes in this real fast. A roomate of mine from college never paid me the $600 he owed me from utilities' bills. I've accepted that he has no legal obligation to pay me because I didn't sue him in time. I kept reminding him that he needed to pay me and told him to f**k off many times... but after 2 years I had no legal action to take. The City has to obey the same laws.

1adam1238
05-04-2005, 05:58 AM
When I moved to Nevada form Missouri, one thing that really stood out was that most cities here don't use meters. Its a freaking desert and people should pay for what they use....but no, everyone pays a flat rate...it blows my mind.

trndobrd
05-04-2005, 06:09 AM
Nice thing about utilities being operated by the City is that the city works for you. Contact your City counsel/commision member. A call to the Water Department from a City Commissioner inquiring as to why one of his constituents is getting screwed to the tune of $2800 because of lazy/incompetent meter readers, can yield very quick and effective resolution.

I would suggest you approach it from this angle: You've run up against a brick wall at the water dept. They aren't giving you a reasonable answer. Everyone in your neighborhood knows Commissioner Smith is committed ensuring all his constitutents get a fair deal from City Hall and you were hoping he could help get some answers.

Bob Dole
05-04-2005, 06:17 AM
However, I do find it odd that your meter is fenced in. Did someone add to the home you are living in or move the fence?

In KC, Bob Dole's water meter was inside the house.

KCWolfman
05-05-2005, 06:08 PM
In KC, Bob Dole's water meter was inside the house.
I have seen that setup when I lived in Louisville.

KCChiefsMan
05-05-2005, 06:11 PM
get an attorney and landblast them through the media if you can.....that SUCKS! and it's definately not fair at all. Just remember, consumers have rights, contact the Better Business Bureau as well. That makes me angry reading this because that could happen to anybody, just because the guy can't get out and read a freakin meter is not your fault