TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › The Cat Lounge › Outrageous water bill
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Outrageous water bill

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
My SO works at a funeral home. 99% of the time he's the only one there (the other 1% is when there are funerals). They received a water bill from the city stating they used 790,000 gallons of water last month. The only things attached to that particular water meter are 2 toilets, 3 sinks, and a couple of outdoor water spigets. The month prior they used about 68,000 gallons. They've called the city several times trying to explain to them that there's no way they could have used that much water. Their responses "oh, well maybe you left a sink running" or "maybe a toilet was running" "that's what the meter says so that's what we are charging you."

A plumber came out to the funeral home this week for something unrelated to this particular situation and so my SO asked him if there was any way possible that they could have use that much water in a month. His response "heck no!" The city is absolutely unwilling to work with them on figuring out this probelm. At the moment, my SO's work has (obviously) decided not to pay this rediculous bill. Does anyone have any ideas as to what they can do to remedy this problem? Is legal action the only way?
post #2 of 15
Well, first, they're right -- absolutely don't pay! Second, show up at a city council meeting and tell the story. Submit a letter from the plumber stating how absurd the amount is.

If that doesn't work, go to the media -- get the nearest TV station interested in doing a story on the obvious mistake, and raise the question of what sort of underground leak could be causing the apparent usage to be so high. Speculate on how much liability the city could face if the foundations of buildings in the area are damaged by such a massive leak.

Once it's out in public like that, the city authorities become concerned about how foolish they look and they step up and do something.
post #3 of 15
I had a $300. water bill back in the mid 1980's when I was a single mom with 2 young kids.

There was NO way we used that much water and no way I could pay it.

The water co. said to get a "plumbers affidavit" to confirm there was a water leak somewhere in the house and they would take the charges off.
At that time I had no idea how to go about getting that.
Calling a plumber sounded expensive too so they turned my water off.

It turned out causing a LOT of problems for me and we eventually moved after a short while.
post #4 of 15
I would say consult a lawyer on this one and make sure you do things by the book. Have several professionals (plumbers/etc) come out and check to make sure there are no superficial leaks under the ground/etc that could have been missed (surely they would have noticed THAT amount of water though!) - make sure you cover all bases and get legal advice and then argue with the utility company.

And most importantly- make sure that the meter is running properly.
post #5 of 15
Is there a possibility that someone left the outside taps on at some point? Even a small drip can add up to gallons and gallons of water.

It's also possible that maybe someone connected a hose to an outside tap and has been siphoning water from the building. Is there a home with a new pool nearby? When my brother built his pool he asked his neighbours if he could connect hoses to their taps in order to help fill the pool. My brother paid their water bills for that month.
post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by missourigrl View Post
My SO works at a funeral home. 99% of the time he's the only one there (the other 1% is when there are funerals). They received a water bill from the city stating they used 790,000 gallons of water last month. The only things attached to that particular water meter are 2 toilets, 3 sinks, and a couple of outdoor water spigets. The month prior they used about 68,000 gallons. They've called the city several times trying to explain to them that there's no way they could have used that much water. Their responses "oh, well maybe you left a sink running" or "maybe a toilet was running" "that's what the meter says so that's what we are charging you."

A plumber came out to the funeral home this week for something unrelated to this particular situation and so my SO asked him if there was any way possible that they could have use that much water in a month. His response "heck no!" The city is absolutely unwilling to work with them on figuring out this problem. At the moment, my SO's work has (obviously) decided not to pay this rediculous bill. Does anyone have any ideas as to what they can do to remedy this problem? Is legal action the only way?
I had this issue in college. What he needs to do is start asking around to the other houses to see if they had a very small water bill. The city is combining them somehow.

He's going to have to fight this one. Trust me.
post #7 of 15
A good way to test for leaks -

make sure everything is off, and look at the meter. If it is spinning, something is running, or leaking. . .

Sorry about such a high bill. . . I would most deffinatly not pay that. . .

When we were leaving our apartment after they screwed us over, I was going to leave all the water running (they paid water), but I could not leave it running. I felt bad for the fish. It felt like such a waste that a munite or two after I turned everything on, it was back off . . . I could not stand to think about the water I was wasting. . .
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoRachelHere View Post
When we were leaving our apartment after they screwed us over, I was going to leave all the water running (they paid water), but I could not leave it running. I felt bad for the fish. It felt like such a waste that a munite or two after I turned everything on, it was back off . . . I could not stand to think about the water I was wasting. . .
You get a gold star for that one. Bless your heart for taking the high road!
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoRachelHere View Post
A good way to test for leaks -

make sure everything is off, and look at the meter. If it is spinning, something is running, or leaking. . .

My SO has done this a few times now and said the meter does not spin when he turns everything off.

His work is thinking about getting a lawyer. The plumber that came out this week said there's no way they could have used that much water, even with a leak somewhere. And surely they would have noticed that much water if there was some sort of leak!

The bill is like $5000. My SO asked the city if they were going to work with them on this (meaning, figure out the problem) and the city said they would allow his work to make payments. They're not going to pay it.

I think getting a lawyer and having a couple of plumbers come out and inspect everything is what they need to do.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by missourigrl View Post
I think getting a lawyer and having a couple of plumbers come out and inspect everything is what they need to do.
Agreed!
post #11 of 15
gather as much information as you can and present it to the city. If they arn't listening and end up sending it to collections you can fight it in small claims court but make sure that your discusions with the city are documented date and time and whom you are speeking to. cover your arse!
post #12 of 15
Lots of good advice. I would:
1) call the plumber (sounds like one has already been there) and get a statement from them on the condition of the plumbing (leaks, etc) and the water meter
2) document the average water bills for the last 6 months
3) ask the neighbors if they've gotten smaller than usual bills (or no bills)
4) look around to see if anyone has a new pool or could be using your outside taps (in fact a lot of public buildings around here have lockable covers on outside taps and outlets)
5) hire an attorney (even if they just write a letter on your behalf, it shows you're serious)
6) go to the media (local TV news usually loves this stuff) if necessary

Yuck. We had a large bill once because a neighbor was getting no bill at all
post #13 of 15
We went through the same thing back in January. We live in a duplex (we own it) and the other side was EMPTY. Nobody was living there, nobody had been in that side at all for several months. Then we got a water bill for that side that was just unbelievable. It said we had used something around 270,000 gallons of water, and the bill was nearly $2,000. When I opened that bill, I honestly began laughing hysterically. It seemed like a joke someone was playing on us! I called the water company, and they said the bill was correct. They did send some guy over to check out the meter and stuff, but he said the meter was fine. He tried to tell us that maybe it was a toilet that had been left running. Nobody had used the toilet over there! The water company had even said it was impossible for anyone to use that much water in a month, yet still insisted we pay it. It was cold outside and snowing, so nobody had been using the outside faucet to fill a pool. We did discover foot prints in the snow leading to the outside faucet from the neighbors house and a dirty rag laying under it with the faucet dripping one day. We called the police, and they said they could do nothing. They said we had to actually see them do it or catch them on tape doing it. It was awful!

My SO talked to his father about the whole thing, and his father went down there with him and ended up paying the bill. I was not happy about that. I thought we should fight it!

I think they should fight it! It seems utility companies try to get away with stuff like that often. It's not right. Please let us know what happens!
post #14 of 15
There could be a problem with the pipe from the street that connects to the business.
I would find a service that has a camera they can put in the pipe to inspect it internally for a leak (I saw this on This Old House)
post #15 of 15
$5,000??? Wow!!! I would definately not pay that. That is ridiculous-and no way his work could of used that!!

Hope they get it all worked out!!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: The Cat Lounge
TheCatSite.com › Forums › General Forums › The Cat Lounge › Outrageous water bill