He moved out of Richmond 2 years ago. The city kept sending him bills: 'I wasn't accepting their baloney'

Posted at 6:52 PM, Jun 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-02 18:52:14-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Robert Barton enjoys the tranquility of his new home in Cumberland County.

“I love it. Peace and quiet. You hear the crickets at night, and I actually see lightning bugs now," Barton said.

He wanted to escape the city lifestyle of Richmond, where he used to live. But what he couldn't escape were his water bills.

Barton moved out of the city in July 2021 and called the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to disconnect his service.

DPU sent what should've been his final bill to his new address, but then Barton got another one... and another one.

“They put the new address in the system to send a new bill, but they ignored the fact that they should have shut off service, and I kept receiving a bill and kept receiving a bill," Barton said.

Barton said he contacted the city and asked why he was being charged for service at a home he hadn't lived in for several months.

He added that he even tried calling the mayor's office and left a voicemail, but that didn't help either.

“I was worried about it getting on my credit. It doesn’t look good to have outstanding bills like that," Barton said. "It's ridiculous."

This went on for almost two years.

In May 2023, Barton received a bill that stated he owed the city more than $500 after tacking on late fees.

He refused to pay it.

“I wasn’t accepting their baloney," he said. “Are they hardheaded? Are they drinking moonshine down there or something?”

Barton isn't the only one facing this problem.

Last week, CBS 6 spoke to Brian Alden who moved from Richmond to Goochland in July 2022. But he said the city didn't close out his account and kept sending him bills each month, totaling more than $800 in charges.

“This is just getting to be ridiculous. No one I know does business like that," Alden told CBS 6.

Both Barton and Alden reached out to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers, and after CBS 6 got involved, the city swiftly resolved the customers' issues — issues that they were trying to fix for a long time.

"They called us this morning and said, 'Sorry, we fixed it all. It won't bother you anymore,'" Barton said.

He told CBS 6 reporter Tyler Layne, “I did everything I could, and apparently you fixed it.”

Poster image - 2023-06-02T150719.150.jpg
Robert Barton

"If there's anyone out there going through the same issue, do you have any advice?" Layne asked.

“I’d recommend getting in touch with Tyler from Channel 6," Barton responded.

DPU said the agency has made "great improvements" to customer service levels and will be announcing operational updates next week.

Here's previous coverage of the recent challenges DPU has acknowledged.

Depend on CBS 6 News and for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

If you have a tip for the CBS 6 Problem Solvers, email our team at or click here to submit a tip. You can also leave a message by calling 804-254-3672. Be sure to leave your name, phone number and detailed description of the problem.

Find unique, award-winning stories every day on CBS 6 News:

📁CBS 6 Problem Solvers Investigations
🚸 Building Better Minds with Rob Cardwell
👔 Wayne's World with senior reporter Wayne Covil
🙋‍♀️Heroes Among Us with Greg McQuade
🏅Beyond the Roster with Lane Casadonte
✋I Have a Story with Greg McQaude