Mas­sive wa­ter bill curbed

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Ryon Jones Staff Re­porter ryon.jones@glean­erjm.com

OLIVE HENRY’S mood has changed from one of shock to re­joic­ing af­ter the Na­tional Wa­ter Com­mis­sion (NWC) ad­justed her June bill from $175,102.34 to $9,161.80.

Henry, who is the land­lord for the premises in ques­tion at Man­ley Mews in St An­drew, had been faced with this on­go­ing is­sue for sev­eral weeks be­fore it was high­lighted in The Sun­day Gleaner last month.

The frus­trated cus­tomer thought the bill was gen­er­ated in er­ror as she had never re­ceived a bill of that mag­ni­tude, plus the premises was un­oc­cu­pied as con­struc­tion work was be­ing car­ried out. How­ever, when she ini­tially queried the bill at the NWC’s head of­fice on Marescaux Road in the Cor­po­rate Area, she was told that it was cor­rect.

Henry chal­lenged the NWC’s claim that there must be a mas­sive leak at the premises by pay­ing a plumb­ing com­pany $6,500 to check the pipes. But Henry’s night­mare was fi­nally ended last week when she called the com­pany and was told that the bill had been re­duced by 95 per cent.

GIVE GOD THANKS

“I called them (NWC) and they said yes, they have re­duced it, but I told them that I wanted some­thing to be sure about it, so I went to Wa­ter Com­mis­sion and when I went there, they said yes, the bill was wiped off,” Henry told The Gleaner.

“I had to just give God thanks. Peo­ple prob­a­bly thought that I was mad be­cause I was just shout­ing ‘Thank you Je­sus!’ be­cause I knew He would have come through.

Even when I left there (NWC head of­fice) and I was walk­ing to Cross Roads, peo­ple were just turn­ing around and look­ing at me be­cause I was shout­ing ‘Thank you Je­sus! You’ve come through for me again!’”

In a writ­ten con­fir­ma­tion of the ad­just­ment re­ceived by Olive Henry ex­plained to the Gleaner news team about a high wa­ter bill she got for more than $175,000.

Henry in the mail on Fri­day, the vice-pres­i­dent of Di­vi­sional Op­er­a­tions East at the NWC, Micheal Dunn, wrote:

“Sched­uled read­ing ob­tained on July 4, 2016 (1345 m3) in­di­cated that your con­sump­tion was sig­nif­i­cantly higher than nor­mal. Con­se­quently, our rep­re­sen­ta­tive was asked to con­duct a check at

the prop­erty in an ef­fort to as­cer­tain the pos­si­ble cause for the high con­sump­tion. The visit was made on July 8, 2016; the read­ing of 1345 m3 was con­firmed and no move­ment was de­tected on the me­ter. We were un­able to in­spect the fix­tures and fit­ting as the oc­cu­pants were out.

A fur­ther check was done on Au­gust 8, 2016 and the me­ter read­ing recorded was the same (1345 m3).”

The let­ter fur­ther stated that in ac­cor­dance with the NWC’s ob­jec­tive to re­place me­ters that are over a spec­i­fied age, the me­ter was changed.

“Given the fact that the me­ter was re­placed be­fore the re­quested test was done, and in the in­ter­est of main­tain­ing our good cus­tomer re­la­tions, the Na­tional Wa­ter Com­mis­sion has re­viewed the charges ap­plied for July and an amount of $164,054.17 cred­ited to the ac­count. The amended bal­ance of $9,161.80 is to be set­tled by Oc­to­ber 14, 2016.”

RE­VISED CHARGES

Henry said she has since paid the re­vised amount and has re­ceived her Oc­to­ber bill, which is back to nor­mal with to­tal cur­rent charges com­ing up to $828.46.

“I am grate­ful to The Sun­day Gleaner, which pub­lished it, be­cause I had been back and forth for weeks and was not get­ting any re­sponse,” Henry said. “Some­times the com­pany needs to look at peo­ple’s sit­u­a­tion rather than just telling them to pay, pay, pay.”

But ac­cord­ing to Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ager at the NWC Charles Buchanan, the com­pany does launch in­ves­ti­ga­tions when there are dras­tic move­ments in cus­tomer’s bills, and this is some­times done even with­out per­sons lodg­ing com­plaints.

“We do hun­dreds of thou­sands of bills, and we have built into our process mech­a­nisms for in­ves­ti­ga­tions, dou­ble check­ing and query­ing par­tic­u­lar bills that come out,” Buchanan said. “I think our er­ror rate is some­where less than one per cent and those are in­ves­ti­gated as far as the nor­mal course of op­er­a­tions.

“To make a query or ask for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, that’s en­tirely within their (cus­tomer’s) right.”

NOR­MAN GRINDLEY/CHIEF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

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