RICHMOND, Va. – A Richmond resident had bill shock when she said her recent water bill was seven times higher than normal rate.
"They can estimate anything they want to,” said Angela Hamlet.
"It was reading one thing,” she said. “And I was billed for another.”
Her October bill was $227, for water she says she didn't use. She said that is nearly seven times what she paid in previous months.
“Well, once I looked at the bill, I said ‘something is wrong.’”
Hamlet says her bill is an estimate of her water usage and that it is not based on her meter readings.
She read the city's water meter herself. The numbers showed her usage to be between 1 and 3.69 CCF's.
She was billed for 58 CCF's usage.
After four attempts to get a technician to her home, Hamlet says the city agreed to reduce her usage from 58 to 7 CCF's.
"For me, that's still too much because I don't use that much,” she said. “And my thing with it is, if you are doing me like this and I can physically walk out here and check my meter, what about the elderly that don't check their meter or they don't really look at the bill.”
The Department of Public Utilities could not directly address Hamlet’s account. They did say an account investigator will contact Hamlet to address the issue.
Angela Fountain with DPU says more than 97 percent of city water bills issued to customers are actual readings.
The only time there is an estimated reading is when a meter fails to register an actual reading.
Fountain says that rarely occurs.
Angela Fountain says if you get a city water bill that’s unusually high, contact the customer care center at 646-7000.
Fountain says to make sure that you ask for a technician to come out and check your meter if you have doubts.