Errors occur from time to time on water bills, and they are typically not in your favor. In some cases, a call to the water company may solve the issue simply. Other times, the dispute may take months or even years to resolve. With that said, disputing water bills is not so easy. But it doesn’t mean that you should fume with rage seeing the ridiculous numbers on the bill. Also, screaming for a lawyer or venting your frustration and anger to the water company customer representative is not a complete solution.
It is not just you, but many homeowners have had the unfortunate experience of getting ridiculously high water bills. This is frustrating because you know there is no actual increase in water usage.
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Owning a home is expensive. There are big maintenance projects, tiny repairs, property taxes, mortgages, and energy costs. In the midst of all this, when you get a water bill that makes no sense, anyone would be furious. The dramatic increase in your water bill compared to previous months will definitely warrant your attention, especially when your water usage has not changed significantly.
In that case, you may choose to dispute the water bill with your local water provider to solve discrepancies. Here is what you need to know.
#1 Review Monthly Usage
Before you question your local water provider, it is better to review your monthly water usage. A hike in your water bill may also be due to actual changes in use. And your bill should return to normal once the usage drops down. However, if your water bill doesn’t coincide with the duration of increased water usage, it means that there is some flaw in the system that need to be addressed immediately with the water provider.
Ensure you have proof, like previous months’ bills, meter readings, and canceled checks. Always go by the books. You can easily find the water provider’s mailing address and phone number on the latest water bill.
Follow the instructions given by the water provider for filing a complaint. The water provider may ask you to request an investigation in writing telling why you think your water bill is absurd and incorrect. Make sure you support your claims with proper documentation.
#2 Rule Out Plumbing Issues
Plumbing problems or leaks can increase your water usage. At this point, you cannot dispute the water bill. You are at fault here. So, before making a move, do visual checks of outdoor water connections, taps, showers, sinks, and toilets to rule out obvious leaks. You may also call a plumber to test for hidden leaks in plumbing. Many kits are available at hardware stores that let you test for hidden leaks.
If your plumbing is intact and working properly, request the water provider for a review of the bill. Ensure you have all the proper documentation by your side, like previous months’ paid bills for reference. It is also viable to ask whether there are any hidden costs associated with the services. Ask your neighbors if they have experienced the same.
Nevertheless, if things are clear from your side, and you still don’t have a single clue of why your water bill is so high, request a specific action. You can request the water provider for an investigation by authorized personnel or reduction of the bill to the average rate.
#3 Request Meter Checks
Human errors and faulty meters could also be the primary cause of jumps in water bills. If you have found no leaks and ruled out increased water usage in your household, you can request a meter check to ensure the device is functioning properly and giving out accurate readings.
If the meter is old, then there are possibilities that the readings may be compromised. The malfunctioned meter could be the problem.
So, without wasting another minute, you should reach out to your water provider and request them to check the meter to determine whether it is faulty. Apart from a defective meter, misreading the information written on the meter could also be the reason for your increased water bill.
Therefore, it is imperative that you request the water provider to perform additional and more frequent meter checks for a specific time period. This will allow you to match and compare the meter readings with actual water usage.
Ways to Dispute Water Bills
Once you have made your background strong by reviewing your monthly usage, ruling out plumbing issues, and doing frequent meter checks, it is time to dispute the water bill.
#1 Start with the source
You need be prepared before you contact the water provider. As said, have your latest bill, previously paid bills, along with any canceled checks by your side. Ensure that your account credentials (if any).
Keep a notepad and pen with you in case you may want to make notes. Finally, be realistic and determine how much you want your water bill to be reduced. Once you have everything in place, contact the customer service of the water company.
- Write down the time and date you talked with the customer representative
- Don’t forget to ask for the representative’s name, extension, and identification number before you discuss your issues
- Once you file your complaint, ask for a case number or any reference ID and write it down
- Tell the representative that there is no fault from your side, and they should send in their professionals to further investigate the issue
- Make sure you remain calm and composed throughout the conversation
#2 Find an Advocate
If regular letters and calls to the water company are not enough or they aren’t responding, it is time that you hire a lawyer. You can always file a formal complaint against the water company for not investigating the dispute. The lawyer will contact the water company on your behalf.
You are always encouraged to dispute ridiculously high utility bills. But make sure that you review your water usage before contacting the water company. And always maintain a friendly tone with the representative when talking about the dispute.